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.
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 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?