Finding Your Fire & Keeping It Hot: Discovering Your Why, Your Passion, Your Purpose in Life
Sharpened Pencils Productions LLC, 2022
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Finding Your Fire & Keeping It Hot is about finding your fire—the passion within—and discovering your why, how Universal Laws impact your fire, how fire dies, how to restart your fire should it die or dim, and how to protect your fire.
An award-winning writer, Dr. Diana Stout is a screenwriter, author, former English professor, and has published 14 books, writing in multiple genres. Currently she’s writing a historical gothic thriller novella, finishing her romance novella series, and assembling a writer’s editing resource guide to better understanding grammar and punctuation. To learn more, go to her website at https://sharpenedpencilsproductions.com.
Part V: When the Fire Dies
“One reason people resist change is because they focus on what they have to give up, instead of what they have to gain.” – Rick Godwin
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates
Chapter 14: How Fires Die
Our creative fires are more fragile than we know. We make that discovery when it is dying or already dead.
Here are a few ways a writer’s fire can die:
- Worry, Anxiety, & Stress
- Life Events
- Overextended or Overcommitted
- Daily Sacrifices
Worry, Anxiety, & Stress
Life is filled with stress.
Events we didn’t create can impact us: weather related disasters, fires, loss of jobs, accidents, and so forth.
People impact us as well: co-workers, family, friends, classmates, shoppers, and people around us when we’re in a crowd.
Stress can create anxiety, and then we’re having to learn how to live with that anxiety so it doesn’t mess with our mental or physical well-being.
Because of our anxiety, we start to worry.
- Will my child be safe if I let them (fill in the blank)?
- Is it safe to be on the road when (fill in the blank)?
- Should I stay with this job if it’s making me feel (fill in the blank)?
Far too often we can’t control these events that other entities—people, animals, and weather—produce, but we can control how we react.
Remember the Law of Action? The things we can’t control is the action part of the law. How we respond is the reaction.
Did you know that we often create our own anxiety because we start worrying about something of which we have no control?
Stress is a reaction.
Anxiety is a reaction.
Worry is a reaction based on previous actions or your own imaginary what ifs.
The goal is to learn how to control your reaction(s). Learning how not to react is a practiced skill that can be learned.
It’s about staying calm and cool. Analyzing while observing. Thinking before speaking. Not reacting emotionally. Concentrating on the facts only, not letting someone’s emotional reaction of trying to segue us away from the facts.
Have you ever said, That he/she/them made me mad!? Actually, the truth is you allowed them to make you mad. You handed over your power (the control of your emotion) to them.
Every attorney I’ve ever worked with has told me, “They’re trying to get you to react so they can use it against you. Don’t react. Don’t respond.”
I’ve learned that sometimes to get an issue out of my system, I respond via writing—journaling about the event, my feelings, what was said, what I wanted to say and didn’t. And then just before tearing it all up, I ask the Universe to handle the situation, to bring clarity and change. Sometimes, I have to let it go several times to the Universe before I can finally forget about it.
When you discover you’re feeling anxious or stressed about something, change your thinking by focusing on something else. If you’re worrying, play that worry out. Consider, what’s the worst that can happen? What’s the best that can happen? Now that you’ve thought it through, let it go.
The goal in changing your focus is to put emotional distance between that stressful event or person and your thoughts. Writing it out allows the stress to flow out of you and onto paper. Take heed: never send it out! Destroy it, instead.
Worry, Anxiety, Stress Assignment
List what you worry about typically.
List what makes you anxious.
List what makes you feel stressful.
Can you see how suggestions of change could eliminate some of these items on your lists? Write the suggestions down. If you can’t change any of the items, is there any way to lessen the impact they have on you?
If you’re not happy with your past reactions, then consider how you can change your reactions in the future.
For new writers, criticism that comes from those first critiques is like pouring a bucket of water on their fire.
The disappointment is deflating. First thoughts are: I’m lousy. I can’t write. What am I doing?
The thing is, critiques aren’t personal. Critiques are about the words on the paper. It’s the only thing a reader sees.
We have to teach ourselves that not everything said or done is personal to us.
More often than not, what is being said or done is a reflection or is personal to the critiquer. It’s wise to remember the Law of Karma and the Law of Action here.
No words have power until you give those words power.
Always consider the source when receiving criticism:
- Are they a master in the field of that criticism?
- Are they also offering a way to fix the errors?
- Are they highly-rated by others?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then be glad they’re helping you and celebrate the assistance.
If the answer to these questions is no, take the criticism with a grain of salt. Even so, is their intent to help? If so, there’s nothing to begrudge.
Proper protocol from you as the recipient of criticism if you requested it from a beta reader, judge, and so forth, is to never defend. Just say Thank you. You can add, something like, I’ll take your suggestions into consideration. Or, You’ve provided some good ideas.
After thinking about their advice for a few days, you may be surprised to find that their criticism was spot-on and that you’ve now found a new beta reader.
As a writer, the best advice you can receive about reviews is don’t read them.
If you do choose to read the reviews so you can get quotes from the better ones, ignore the rest. Just let them go.
Don’t respond to reviews. Everyone is allowed an opinion about your writing when you make it public, the same way you’re allowed to post a review—your opinion—after you’ve read a book.
Reviews are nothing more than opinions. Granted, some opinions carry more weight than others because they come from experts of the field, but how many times have you disagreed with even those reviews? I have, lots of times.
Anytime I was dealing with stressful events, which included deaths in the family, losing jobs, moving, and so forth, I would turn to my fire. My writing.
Writing was and still is my release, my safe place. I’m always able to pour out my feelings through the keystrokes. Much of that writing I’ll tear up, but the thing is, I have a positive release valve.
Your fire should be your safe place, too. A place where you can restore yourself, find yourself again, and where it protects you against the onslaught of daily and weekly negatives that are just part of life.
Life events can include weather, accidents, deaths, births, marriages, illness, caring for others, moving, or other events that can create a seismic shift in your life.
Big life events bring big changes. Some changes are short-term, others long-term.
My own creative writing got sidelined for fifteen years when I returned to school for economic reasons and was writing academic papers instead. Thankfully, I was still writing, and in the long run, all that writing made me a better creative writer once I returned to it.
Overextended or Overcommitted
Our fire can easily dim or die when taking part in too many organizations, events, and other extra-curriculum activities.
If wondering whether you should continue with any of these activities, consider or ask yourself:
- Do you receive the same joy from belonging or performing as you once did?
- Do you feel drained or energized afterward?
- Do you prepare for the activity with a sense of dread?
Your answers will tell you if you should continue with the activity or not.
If you want your fire to heat up, then make it a priority on your list of things to do each day. Be prepared to make some sacrifices elsewhere.
My sacrifices included less socializing both in person with friends and online in social media, watching less TV, and reading fewer recreational books.
Writing energizes me. Watching TV calms me, which I do after I’m done writing for the day, allowing my brain, my writing thoughts to wind down.
We all have different priorities and different needs, whether seasonal or day-to-day. It’s all about finding your rhythm while still tending to your fire.
Think of yourself as a bank of energy, where deposits and withdrawals are made and recorded in the register.
Withdrawals are the negatives, as discussed in this chapter, that over time can dampen and extinguish your fire.
Deposits are the positives that help your fire burn brighter.
What does your personal register look like? Are there more withdrawals than deposits? Is it any wonder you have no energy to work on your fire?
If there are more withdrawals from your energy bank than there are deposits, your account will surely become depleted and your fire will die.