Thursday, September 24, 2009

Guest Post: Adrian Mead

The ever lovely and helpful Adrian Mead sent me this email, so I thought I'd print it in full as it's so good and extremely helpful.

"Sounds like you have taken all the right steps to address your situation and there isn’t much I can offer you other than saying well done for being so open and taking action. Known lots of very happy and successful folk who have learned to manage these sort of episodes.

Depression gets used as a term for many things. Perhaps others reading this may have experienced some of the feelings you have talked about.

If you or someone you know is feeling down and de-motivated it’s important to recognize those feelings are real and valid because that is what they are experiencing. The following is worth considering.

Ask yourself these questions -

MOTIVATION

Why do I want to be a writer?

What exactly do I expect to gain from this activity?

If you are not enjoying the process it may be because your motivation is out of balance and skewed towards a transient or often unquantifiable goal – such as validation from others or fame.

AVOIDING THE SLIP INTO SELF DOUBT

All humans experience self doubt – with writers it’s easy to focus it on your writing and career.

It’s hugely important that you quickly stop the slide into self doubt or feeling down. Having a positive feedback file at hand with reviews, clippings and emails that praise your work is an extremely powerful tool."

(I'd agree with that. I do indeed have such a folder and it's good to read those comments now and again.)

"ARE THINGS REALLY THAT BAD?

Your feelings are real and valid because that is what you are experiencing. However, and I know this is an oft quoted one but it’s true, go volunteer to help others. There are people with way greater challenges than you and I. Works for me."

(Again, good advice. I like to help those less fortunate than myself so last Saturday I was tea/coffee/food bitch for Lucy, at her first ever Script Reading seminar.)

"TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR DIET

Cut out all junk food, dairy and all booze for three months. You’ll be shocked at the difference this can make. Don’t believe me? Try it and prove me wrong."

( I quit the booze for two weeks, and even that little amount of time made a huge difference.)

"YOU MUST EXERCISE!

Commit to exercise every day -

Hit stuff!!! Join a martial arts class.

Got a family and reckon you haven’t got time to exercise? Then take the baby buggy and a back pack filled with books on a 20 mins very brisk walk in the morning!"

(I take my son and dog for a walk at least once a day, twice if I have the energy to keep up with them.)

"Try Dancing/crawling/singing with your kids in between writing breaks or to their favourite DVD. You will feel good, they will have a great time.

Every time you think of raiding the fridge between writing breaks do 10 press ups, 10 sit ups, 10 squats instead.

Buy a punch bag or stand up target. Great for dealing with rejections and stress

Commit to doing something every day!

HATE EXERCISE?

Join a choir – lots of folk find this hugely beneficial.

Join a dance class. Your wife/girlfriend will most likely love the new man in you.

Or if you are single it will be a great chance to meet the opposite sex!

TOP UP THE CREATIVE TANK

Take yourself on a weekly date to art galleries, movies – even a read of the papers and a coffee in the garden – but do it every week.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is a great manual for ideas like this.

MANAGE YOUR TIME: DON’T SPEND TIME, INVEST IT

Make a plan.

Whenever you approach the computer, TV, etc ask yourself “What return am I going to get “. Don’t spend time. Invest it.

“What return am I going to get “.

See the brilliant Jim Lawless book Taming Tigers for lots of great strategies on time management and inspiration.

SET GOALS

Most powerful motivator there is. Achieving a goal gives positive feedback and helps you maintain your motivation."

(I set daily goals, cleaning the house, doing the washing, or anything like that and if I've completed at least half of my list I feel I've had a productive day.)

"YOU MUST DO THIS and stick to them.

Set daily goals in your diary. Ring fence time and stick to it.

For your career and personal life set -

Short term.
Mid term
Long term goals.

Set deadlines for each. Stick them up where you can see them!

SURVIVAL KIT

Go download the E book MAKING IT AS A SCREENWRITER. www.meadkerr.com"

(If you don't have it already, get it. It's an invaluable thing to have.)

"PRINT IT OUT and keep it next to your computer. You can feel good about supporting Childline and taking control of your future at the same time

Positive feedback file. Start building it now. Keep it next to your computer at all times. Soon as doubt creeps in reach for this.

Stick your list of goals with deadlines up on the wall next to the computer.

FINALLY

If all this talk of goals and time management seems like too much hard work, well the truth is that you probably enjoy writing as a hobby. That’s great, but don’t confuse an enjoyable hobby with the goal to become a professional writer. It requires a massive, daily commitment to your craft and a well honed and highly active career strategy to become a professional writer.

It’s easy to fall short in your efforts and assume that your lack of success is due to a lack of talent. Enjoy your hobby and stop worrying about “making it” or get seriously committed.

None of the above is meant to trivialise the illness of depression or the feelings of others. As I said earlier, your feelings are real and valid because that is what you are experiencing. If you stick to the suggestions above and still feel down and unmotivated you should seek professional help – as Dom has done. It’s important to talk to people."

Cheers, Adrian.

1 comment:

Dom Carver said...

Wise words and everyone is so stunned they can't comment. God, Adrian is GOOD!!!!