For reasons I won’t bore you with, the last three weeks have been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. It’s brought home to me the truth of that remark I’ve heard so many times: how important it is for a writer to be resilient.
The question is: how do you do it?
When I was back at the day job, the department I worked for underwent some pretty dramatic restructuring. Forty per cent of jobs were to go. Sessions on “resilience” were made available to managers to help them cope, and in turn to help their own staff through the process.
The one thing I remember about those sessions was the reference to plumbing – what the tutor referred to as energy “taps” and “drains”. In other words, the things that you, personally, find boost your energy levels – perhaps going out for drinks with friends or a long walk somewhere scenic; and those that deplete them – say, just for the sake of illustration, arguing religion with your father-in-law. The theory was simple: when things are difficult, find ways to maximise exposure to your energy taps and limit the time you spend with your – er – drains.
Of course, if you’re feeling miserable the things that might actually make you feel better won’t necessarily be that appealing. At the end of a knackering week, the last thing you might feel like doing is dragging yourself out to the pub. Apparently, that doesn’t matter. You should do it all the same because, after the initial effort, you will feel better.
This is all well and good as far as it goes: but what about those situations that can be both taps and drains?
I’ve written before about the importance of Countdown to my writing day. Switching on and solving the conundrum before either of the contestants would definitely give me a lift. Ditto finding an eight letter word that didn’t end in “ing”. But what if it turns out I’m having a real thickie of a day? What if the only word I can find from that combination of nine vowels and consonants is “and”? If I suddenly can’t remember my 75 times table – or worse, my 100 times table – for the numbers game? That’s not going to do my self-esteem any favours. Does this mean I should abandon Countdown altogether, just to be on the safe side?
And what about people? First port of call for energy replenishment would usually be the Husband. But what if he’s had a crap day at work too? What if all he wants to do is sit in front of the telly with a cuppa and a packet of crisps? Well, in his case the answer is obvious – it’s tough, because he’s going to have to listen to me whinging whether he likes it or not. But I’m not sure that’s going to cut it for all of the people in my “tap” column.
So I’m appealing to anyone out there trying to grow that thick skin, look on the bright side, keep your chin up and believe the cup is half-full: how do you do it?
Answers on the back of a fifty pound note, please. Okay, a fiver. And if your idea doesn’t work, that’s enough for a large glass of red.