I don’t like needing help; I like asking for help even less. In the solitary practice of writing it wouldn’t seem that I rub up against this aversion for help very often but I do, more than I could have ever imagined.
Lately as I’ve turned over in my head what I would write about this month, I came back to a few underlying concepts and as New Years Eve approached and I had not managed to form these words my thoughts shifted to what “advice” I would give writers going into a new year, new deadlines, contests, opportunities and difficulties.
The internet is bursting with advice for writers, all of it important; much of it technical. I have read countless articles about creating and maintaining a writing routine, how to choose where to submit, M.F.A vs. workshops. Even more articles on craft and nuts and bolts of good quality writing. I don’t see much about navigating life as a writer. I’ve always focused my words in that general direction here because other topics are done often and often done well. The fact is that as a writer pre M.F.A, M.F.A in progress or no M.F.A at all you have to navigate this thing called life.
For some that life includes long term committed relationships, children, and aggressively focusing on publication; for others this life is being a nomad, bound only to the next far flung fellowship or writer in residence position. For many of us all or some of these things will be true at different times but no matter what choices are made along the way you are not an island.
I told a lie recently, someone close to me asked if I needed help with something, I said ‘no, I have it under control’. I kicked myself later for not being honest. “No, I have it under control” is my default setting and the hardest habit I’ve tried to break lately. I was reminded today as I rambled off my ongoing internal checklist that someone had a great idea that would help me, from an angle I had not thought of. In that moment I was reminded that I have an inner circle for a reason, a team of people who are intelligent, quick, and most of all have my best interest at heart, why am I not utilizing them?
As the new year opens we will undoubtedly see lists of best productivity apps, best word processes etc but the most under utilized tool in a writers arsenal are the people who can offer a listening ear, a helping hand, a different approach, a dinner date to offset stress and writers block.
In 2016 I will be striving to be unashamed in putting down the Superwoman cape and being diligent in managing the unfair expectations I place on myself to do it all alone, perfectly, and without flaw. I know I will be a better writer for it.