Take Back Your Energy with a Question
You know that feeling when you are powering away on a creative project and then notice that you’ve stopped, seemingly against your will?
It’s as though all the energy that was streaming through you just dissipated.
Why does that happen? Does that energy loss come from a place outside yourself? Or from the wayback machine of your personal or familial history?
For times like these, I recommend a question to your attention:
Is it mine?
This question is not original to me.
I value it, and refer to it often.
What it means: Interrogate every inner suggestion, imperative, critique, expletive-laden attack, hint, unquestioned response, etc. that you experience. Are you its actual source?
If not, you can ignore the message and let it go back into the ether.
If you are – if the message is really yours, or if it comes from an intuition you can trust – pay attention, take it in, and see how it will affect your choices.
Here’s how the question can play out.
Whose voice is it?
You’re ready – finally ready – to start querying your new book project. You’ve done the research on agents and presses. You’ve crafted and polished and disassembled and rewritten and repolished the query letter and the sample pages and the proposal or synopsis. Then, on the morning of your first day of querying, something’s off. You can just tell. You realize you have doubts. Serious, cracks-in-the-firmament doubts. What were you thinking? You have no credibility as an author. Anyone who even takes the time to look at your letter will see what a poseur you are. A rejection letter would be too good for you.
What if, right then, in the midst of the disgust and overthinking, you asked yourself, Is it mine?
It’s often so clearly not. Whose voice is that? Sometimes, it’s really easy to identify. The tone of their imaginary voice is unforgettable – it’s the English teacher or college roommate or family member or critique group member or Goodreads reviewer. You’d recognize that voice anywhere. Other times, it’s less recognizably one person’s voice, but that’s not important. As long as you can tell that it’s not your voice, the question has done its work.
Why? Because that voice, whoever’s it is, isn’t yours. It’s none of your concern. You can shake yourself off, get back to work, and start sending out queries with a smile and a happy, deep exhale each time you click “Send.”
Whose burden is it?
So much is so deeply wrong with the world right now. How can you seriously believe that what you do is worthwhile – to you, let alone anyone else? How can setting aside time for building sentences and paragraphs be reasonable in the face of these huge problems? Even defensible?
What if, in the midst of the pain and despair, you asked yourself, Is it mine?
Here, the question isn’t about the source of that voice. Instead, you’re asking whether those problems are yours. They certainly are, in the sense that they are currently interfering with your creative flow. But in a larger sense, are they of your making? Will collapsing under the weight of those problems help you or anyone else? And even: Might continuing your meaningful creative work do a bit to relieve those huge problems for some people?
Conserve your energy
From one day to the next, our creative energies are likely to vary in intensity and quantity. When an energy leak appears, doesn’t it make sense to address it?
Making changes to your life is often hard to do. And yet, extricating yourself from unnecessary demands could be pretty great. Do you think the question “is it mine?” will come in handy for you? Please let me know.
Thanks for reading