Getting Over The Hump – August McLaughlinPosted: September 19, 2012
Please welcome a new friend, August McLaughlin. A former model and actress, August has found her calling writing fiction. I highly recommend visiting August’s blog while we await her first book. You’ll find her writing polished and insightful. You’ll be glad you paid her a visit.
Forging Ahead Without Going Crazy
The moment I set foot in Los Angeles in 2005, I was a giddy firecracker. After years of working in the fashion industry, I felt I’d found my calling in acting. Shortly after my arrival to the film and TV mecca, I sat down to dinner with my theatrical agent. He asked me a question his first acting coach posed to him. It went something like this:
“Imagine yourself in your seventies… You’re living in a studio apartment, eating Top Ramen for dinner and performing in a play at a little known black box theater, making just enough money to get by. Would you be happy?”
My agent responded, “NO,” and began pursuing an alternate career. My answer? A resounding “YEEE HAA, YES!” I loved acting, and I’ve always believed in following my heart’s desires. The only way I could see myself quitting acting, was if something I loved more came along. I couldn’t imagine that. About two years later, it did.
I have plenty of downfalls, but the tendency to give up isn’t one of them. If I’d left acting because I wasn’t booking enough work or wanted a more stable income, I’d say I surrendered. But neither was the case. I quit because I knew with my whole heart and mind that I was, and will probably always be, a writer.
If my agent asked me a similar question about writing today, my answer would be an even more enthusiastic YES. That’s not to say I don’t believe or desire success or financial stability; I do. The joy for me, though, is in the journey. Taking that path and trusting it leads to success of many kinds. That’s my compass. When I feel challenged, I remind myself of that. Then I sit down to the page and keep going.
When C.J. asked me to share how I stay motivated when times get tough for his fantastic blog, I was stoked. When I sat down to write it, though, I came up empty. I just…keep going, I thought. Why wouldn’t I be motivated? I quickly realized that there’s much more to it than that.
Forging on no matter what is vital, but that doesn’t mean overworking, never relaxing, or hitting back-to-back literary home runs. When I first began writing, I was under the impression that more meant better. I’d cram as much as I could into every day, barely stopping to breathe. This took away from my writing quality, my sleep and even my finances. I’ve since learned the value of rest, full days off, friendships with other writers and setting boundaries. (Every time we say “Yes” to a lunch, volunteer work or walking the neighbor’s dog during work time, we’re saying “No” to writing…)
If your brain feels sludgy today, rest then write tomorrow—assuming you’re not facing a deadline. If you think best during morning or evening hours, work then, but also leave room for play. Aim to move forward, rather than for perfection. Sleep enough. Eat well. Don’t forget to breathe. And when the going gets rough, don’t be afraid to seek help. One of the attributes I love most about the writing industry is its supportive nature. Lastly, listen to your inner voice. I can’t tell you how many times my instincts have saved my writerly butt. We often have the answers we seek, and need only to tune in and listen.
What keeps you motivated and moving forward? What has your inner voice been suggesting?