Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How to attract a Black Dog into your working life




None of us want a black dog of depression or discouragement. Here are a few deterrent tips I've presented at workshops recently. I've done each of these ten things at different times and decided that if I want to stop being shadowed by this nuisance, I should start doing the opposite. I'm not talking about the menacing, clinical sort of black dog which requires medication and/or counseling but the black dog which artistic and creative people find gatecrashing their peace of mind. Perhaps they are simply different sized variations of the same beast.

1) Compare yourself to other authors and keep a close eye on their success.

2) Assume that slow periods of time prove that God is not blessing you.

3) Tell your family and friends about each of your writing projects and expect them to brim over with enthusiasm. Size up everybody you know as potential customers to buy and promote your books.

4) Race impatiently through each of your writing projects with the incentive of sweet success, warm accolades and piles of moolah to spur you on.

5) Dismiss compliments but take it for granted that all criticism must be true.

6) Assume that setbacks are typical and will keep recurring.

7) Turn up your nose at the small blessings each day brings.

8) Keep anticipating bad things which may happen so you can prepare yourself for them in advance.

9) Get impatient when things seem to be moving slowly and either grit your teeth and try to force things to happen or give up completely.

10) Never think beyond what you can see or hear. Don't take time to imagine the people your writing may touch now and way into the future who you never hear about.

Paula Vince is a homeschooling mother and award-winning author of faith-inspired fiction set in Australia. She believes stories are a powerful tool to bring goodness and hope to the lives of readers and loves invoking tears, laughter and cheering. Visit her at www.appleleafbooks.com or her motivational blog, "It Just Occurred to Me."

17 comments:

  1. Hi Paula,
    Loved your title. I agree that it's us who often invite that little black dog for company. And we can do much to turn him away or turn him into a frisky happy dog that barks in appreciation instead! Many thanks for some great pointers in keeping ourselves focussed and persevering!
    Thanks also for the reminder that sometimes we have to change ourselves and our expectations in order to make our writing life much more rich and fulfilling!
    Blessings and thanks,
    Anusha

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    1. No one but another author can really appreciate that list, Paula. If we haven't yet experienced any of those soul-sapping discouragements, it'll happen when we least expect it. Who else cheerfully pours themselves into their work day after day and year after year without decent remuneration? And yet we do it because it's our calling. We may never know this side of heaven who has been blessed, challenged or even comforted by our stories. Yes, we write fiction, but it's not airy-fairy stuff, it's based on real life situations. We are preaching the Good News with our pens, or should I say,computers! Maybe I can paraphrase a little..."How blessed are the fingers of those who tap out the Good News for their readers!"

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  2. Hi lovely ladies,
    Thanks for stopping by. Rita, I'm going to have to borrow that final quote of yours to remind myself often! That's a gem.

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  3. Very true, Paula. I like the way you phrased your points in the "do" rather than "don't" position - very imaginative!

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    1. Hi Margaret, I'm sure many would agree, these are very easy things to slip into.

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  4. Hey Paula,
    Hang in there because God does have a plan for all of our writings even if sometimes it is hard for us to see. On the bright side He gives us plenty of opportunities to show are faithfulness and trust in him by continuing to write in his strength.

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    1. Yes, in fact, we authors may even be among those who do see fruits for our efforts more so than others at times :)

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  5. No black dogs for me thanks. I don't like dogs. Not even the man's-best-friend kind. Not even if they're cute little puppies with a pink ribbon tied around their neck. Keep them away from me! :)

    In all seriousness, it is definitely hard work to keep a positive attitude all the time, but it sure beats crumbling into self-pity and depression.

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    1. And they cost a lot to feed, the man's best friend type and this type, either in money or emotional energy or both. The hard work of staying positive definitely pays off.

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  6. Thanks Paula. Interesting post. May I be bold enough to add one more. Don't praise God continually!

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  7. Absolutely, Jo! That one goes on the list for sure.

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  8. Paula, great post! I think No. 1 on your list can cause us a lot of grief. It can be hard to focus on our own unique journey and not compare our success, or lack of success, with others. It's all about attitude :)

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    1. Narelle, most definitely! The comparison game is not one we're meant to play, so no wonder it can make us feel so discouraged when we do :)

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  9. Great post, Paula. I keep focussing on Jesus, because with him I walk an amazing journey towards the purpose he has for my life.

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  10. I love your honest post, Paula. I am going to print out your tips and keep a copy handy. I suspect that I am predisposed to 'black dogs'. They seem to be part of my passionate genetic make-up. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or down, I always ask God what He thinks. I never fail to get that loving response - even if it involves discipline. PS: I love my dog – Noodle is not black. He is brown and white and very cute.

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  11. I'm going to copy them out too, and place them beside my writer's prayer. It's so easy to wade into the writing world, minus the skin and backbone needed to get us where God wants us to go. Thanks so much Paula, for sharing this!

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  12. Great post Paula. I can definitely relate. When the black dog comes to visit me I think "how dare other Christian magazines do well / why are they doing so well / it's not fair!" but the reality is there is plenty of room for all of us in God's Kingdom, and I bless them and wish them well (most of the time anyways!).

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