Have you ever played that party game where you’re asked, “If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?”
People always say they’d want to be able to fly. Or they’d want to be able to be invisible. One time I said I’d want to be super-flexible like Elastagirl in The Incredibles.
But I realized something this week: If you asked me what superpower I need as a writer, I know exactly what it is — and it’s not flying or invisibility or flexibility. Nope.
I need a super-human dose of enthusiasm.
Why do I say that? Well, earlier this week I told a writing buddy that I was thinking about not writing anymore. It’s not the first time I’ve had that thought — or said those words. I’d like to think it would be the last time, but I know there will be times when my enthusiasm — my passion, my fervor, my eagerness — to write will wane.
What happened this week to get me in the “I don’t think I want to do this anymore” mood?
It was just something someone else said. A passing comment, really. But it was enough to deflate my spirit … to make me wonder why I was I investing my time and my efforts in this writing gig. I opened my heart to a whispered “Are you sure you should be doing this?” and discouragement crept right into my heart.
When my heart falters like this … when I question who I am and what I’m doing … it’s best to drag all the shouldn’t-be-asking-these questions out into the light of day. How do I do that? I talk to a trusted friend or mentor about about the “Should I even be writing?” thoughts — and it’s best to do that sooner rather than later. Letting my thoughts steep in doubts and discouragement is a sure way to dampen the fires of enthusiasm.
I came across another quote about enthusiasm that helped me, too: “Enthusiasm is the electricity of life. How do you get it? You act enthusiastic until you make a habit of it.” ~Gordon Parks (1912-2006), noted photographer & film director
Did you catch that part about “acting enthusiastic until you make a habit of it”? On the days I’m struggling as a writer, on the days I doubt myself, I have to remember that I am a writer — and act like it. It’s true I may not feel enthusiastic at first. But acting like a writer by diving back into my story or brainstorming with another writer or Skyping with my mentor will remind me why I love writing — and it will reignite the electricity of enthusiasm inside of me.
Are you protecting the fires of enthusiasm within you? How do you rekindle them if circumstances have caused them to flicker?