A Sense of Power

I have to report a major victory this week. About two months ago, I announced to my writing group that I would finish a short story and submit it to the Writer’s Digest popular fiction contest. I made my intentions public in order to have some accountability. When the September 15th early bird deadline whistled past my ear, I got mad at myself for, once again, missing a goal.

In Chapter three of The Artist’s Way, Recovering a Sense of Power, Julia Cameron writes about anger. For most of us nice people our typical reaction to anger is to suppress it, tamp it down, swallow it. But anger, Cameron says, is a map. It shows us boundaries, and if we listen to it, anger can show us where we want to go.

Anger can point the way

Anger can point the way

My anger at missing yet another deadline told me it’s time to get serious about my writing goals.

I wrote an affirmation on my mirror: “I finish what I start.” I read it out loud every day, and as the October 15th final deadline approached, I got serious. I made a commitment, and I was determined to keep it. Clicking that “submit” button gave me a sense of power.

I did it!

I did it!

I had wrestled my doubts, set boundaries on my writing time, fought perfectionism, procrastinated away my procrastination.

I finish what I start. It is an empowering step in the direction of another of my affirmations: “I am a brilliant and prolific writer.” (Yes, I cringe to call myself brilliant.) Maybe I should switch those two adjectives. Isn’t “prolific” the path to “brilliant”? Practice, practice, practice.

Do you get mad at yourself for falling short of your goals, or at someone else for being more successful? Don’t ignore or deny or bury it. Anger turned inward can morph into depression. Translate that anger. Read the map. Where is it leading you?

13 thoughts on “A Sense of Power

    • Thanks, Cassandra. I didn’t want to embarrass myself after announcing it to all my writing buddies. Thanks for following.

  1. What a great post, Patty! Congratulations on your accomplishment and on your newfound sense of power. I’m another “nice” person who is learning to pay attention to her anger.

    I liked what you wrote so much that I wanted to “share” it on Facebook. At that point, I noticed that we didn’t include a “share on Facebook” option when we set up your site. Let me know if you want me to add that.

    • Thanks Nina. I’m glad it spoke to you. Follow that anger map! Yes, it would be great to have the share buttons for Facebook and Twitter. I’m still getting compliments on the website. Everyone loves your work.

  2. Patti, you are too nice a person to be associated with the word “anger”. As a gentle and kind person that you are I think “disappointment” more readily describes your reaction to not meeting a goal. However we choose to bandy words, I still think you’re very talented and relentless in your will to succeed. We love you.

    • Oh dear Hank! Maybe you should ask your son about that! 🙂 Anger can have a positive effect if it’s channeled well. Love you too!

  3. Great post, Patty. And good for you for meeting that deadline.

    I think meeting deadlines is a crucial skill for achieving success as a writer. If we don’t meet deadlines, we never accomplish anything. A piece of writing is never really complete — we can re-write forever in chase of perfection — so it’s crucial that we be able to put a story or book to rest. And then move on to the next project.

    Good luck with the contest!

  4. My anger doesn’t get the best of me like it used to. Fear of others’ anger when expressed verbally is still threatening. Now, when I am angry it’s not with myself; it’s usually a situation that failed me where I choose to focus. At least it’s not turned inward. Do still have difficulty telling someone they’ve angered me. Difference is, I’ve noticed anger to be motivating. Thanks for the suggestion of seeing where the map may lead.

  5. This is a great example of how to use your anger (or disappointment) into a positive and useful tool. I look forward to reading more of your work. And I am very inspired by your dedication to your writing and the Artist’s Way group. Congratulations on meeting your goal!

    • Thanks, Candy. I love seeing people in the Artist’s Way group make progress, some big steps, some small. I hope the move is going smoothly and we’ll see you next week.

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