Welcome to How to Keep Writing Wednesdays, where you'll find a boost of encouragement to help you keep the words flowing.

The Writer’s Ego

When I talk about ego, I’m talking about the part of you that gets fearful (“What will people think?”), the part of you that revs up in survival mode when it feels threatened (“Oh yeah? I’ll show you!” or “Oh no! What am I going to do? What do I have to do? How can I fix this?”) or, worse yet, starts to believe the stories that made you crazy in the first place (“Maybe everyone’s right and I’m wrong.”). You begin to choose behavior and make decisions that accommodate everyone except for yourself. We’ve all played in this sandbox long enough to know how well that works (hint: it doesn’t).

When these feelings creep in, it’s time to take a stand.

It can feel very touchy-feely to talk about taking a stand for your own well-being as a writer, about loving yourself enough to choose yourself first. But why does it matter? You just have to look at the outcome.

The minute you point attention away from your own sense of happiness and goodness, the crazy chatter begins. Anxiety kicks in. The “never enough” tally starts up. The “what else can I do?” hamster wheel starts spinning (and guess what? You can never “do” enough.). Your health might take a turn. You feel stressed and unhappy. Worst of all, you no longer know who you are.

Sometimes things have to get really bad before you finally decide, without question, that you’ve had enough. Because it’s exhausting, isn’t it? But when you feel good, it energizes you.

Want your own happiness first, and that will point you in the right direction while helping others (your spouse, your partner, your kids, your community) find their happiness, too. The old parable about teaching others to fish rather than getting the fish for them applies here. Become fishermen (or women or people) of your own lives. Cast your line into waters that are clean, clear, and abundant.

This week, take a stand for your own well-being and consider writing the words, “I want to feel happy” or “I want happiness” (for me, my family, my writing etc.) on a piece of paper and put it somewhere so you’ll see it throughout the day. That’s all you need to do for now. The power of writing is that it clarifies and shapes—it gives focus to our lives. Such simple words can make all the difference.