What advice would you give your younger self, assuming your younger self would have listened to an old crock like you?
And what if you had to do it in only three words? This is the hard bit, because we baby boomers do tend to rave on about the days ‘back in the sixties’ of black and white TV, waiting a week to get your photos back from Kodak and long distance calls being constantly interrupted by a nasal, ’Your three minutes is up, do you wish to extend your call?’
The Huffington Post recently posed this challenge to their Facebook fans. You can read some of their responses here. It’s surprising how much you can deduce about a person’s life from those three words, even the flippant reply from one man – ‘ Pull out quicker.’
The answers that resonate most with me are Believe in yourself and Trust your intuition. Writing has been my passion since schooldays and the only occupation I was interested in pursuing was journalism. Even back in the seventies there was a lot of competition for jobs in the industry and I didn’t have the confidence in my abilities to jump in regardless and give it a go – I was defeated before I even started. It was not until I was in my late thirties, divorced with young children, that I plucked up the courage to begin a freelance writing career.
Self-belief is something that many writers struggle with – it’s easy when you’ve got plenty of writing gigs and your books are selling, but harder to maintain when the work dries up or you’re having problems getting into your next novel. All the more difficult because it’s a solitary occupation and much of the time, particularly if you’re a novelist, you’re relying on yourself for validation. Sometimes you just have to give yourself a slap in the face with a wet fish, or get someone else to do it for you, like this.
Or read Margaret Atwood’s ten rules for writing fiction, particularly number seven – Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.
As for trust your intuition, I’m a firm believer in this one. When you’re making major life decisions, you can be as rational as a lecture in quantum physics and draw up lists of pros and cons until you get writers’ cramp, but if your gut is screaming ‘No!’ you need to take notice of it. Assuming it has nothing to do with last night’s Indian curry.
One of the few times I’ve acted against my gut feeling resulted in an unhappy and short-lived marriage. But it was a learning experience – one way of bringing home to me the immutable truth of that adage. In a blog post on Care2, Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide, says that the rational mind is only capable of making minor concrete decisions, like choosing between two brands of car insurance. When we’re making decisions that will have lasting repercussions on our lives, there are too many factors for the poor over-worked brain to consider, so we’re better off deciding from the gut.
That feeling we sometimes get, that a person or a situation feels right – there was no struggle, it just fell into place as if it’s meant to be – that’s intuition working at its best.
What three words of advice would you give your younger self? Share them with us in the comments below.
Robin Storey is an Australian author from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. She is a certified book nerd and has no weird hobbies or unusual pets.