In these stages, it's common to look for sources of affirmation. I'm lucky to have a group of people who support me when things get challenging, but sometimes, affirmation becomes my albatross. I get so consumed with the external--what people think, and confirmation that I'm doing all right--that it's easy to get desperate when affirmation doesn't come my way.
Unfortunately, this makes me look a bit like John Cleese in the beginning of this Monty Python YouTube clip (language NSFW).
And here are some other reasons why having affirmation as my albatross is a bad idea (the fact that John Cleese has his around his neck is probably no accident):
1. I look desperate. ("Alllbaatrosss!")
2. It's extremely unsatisfying. ("I haven't got any choc ices, I just have this albatross.")
3. Sometimes I get defensive. ("Don't you oppress me, mate!")
3. And at the end of it, I'm still left with a gigantic bird that weighs down my psyche. ("Of course you don't get f*#king wafers with it!")
So here's what I'm going to try. I'm going to look within, and find what matters in my bones, no matter whether the affirmation comes or not. Namely, I'm going to ask myself the following:
1. What are five things I've accomplished?
2. What am I most proud of?
3. What do I value most?
4. What keeps me going when things get tough?
Often, when I answer these, I find I'm further along than I thought. Plus, it helps me keep focused on the writing itself (a great source of internal affirmation). With these tools, I'm optimistic that I can eventually drop my albatross for good.
So what about you? What is your albatross? In what ways does external affirmation (or conversely, disavowal) affect your writing life?