It was the Christmas gift my mom was most worried about. “Open it last,” she said, fretting. “I’m not sure you’ll like it.”
Used to her doubting her gift choices, I tore it open anyway, to find Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. I laughed out loud, happy to reassure her that not only was it a good choice, I’d actually wanted to read it.
I’m not much for pop psychology books, and even less for bloggers-turned-best-selling novelists, but Manson is so funny and refreshingly different he had me hooked from the first page. I haven’t finished his book yet, but already I’ve learned a lot. While reading, it struck me how helpful his advice would be for writers.
Rather than tell you how to avoid caring about anything, as the title may imply, Manson’s book is instead about choosing to care only about what’s most important to you, and not worrying about anything else. Bold, brilliant lives are forged when we decide we have no more f*cks to give…think about how many times this industry has kicked your butt, but you’ve kept writing anyway. That’s exactly the kind of thing he’s talking about.
He also explains that our current society is so focused on being happy that we’ve forgotten suffering is an unavoidable part of being human. We all experience sadness, sickness, death, heartbreak, anxiety, worries and fears, etc., yet we’re told there’s something wrong with us if we’re not Positive with a capital “P” all the time. No one wants to be a downer. Manson says this pressure creates a spiral where we feel guilty about feeling guilty, worry about how much we worry, feel anxious about being anxious, get sad about feeling sad. These feelings aren’t touted as “normal,” so people do whatever they can to escape them, whether that’s turning to drugs and alcohol, buying things they don’t need, becoming adrenalin junkies, or simple avoidance. But if we accept that we’re all flawed, and we’re all going to feel shitty sometimes, it frees us. As someone who’s spent a lot of time worrying about worrying, this resonated with me. Sometimes I’m going to worry about stuff I can’t control, but so what? The trick is to only worry about the things that are truly important to me.
Is becoming the best writer I can possibly be important to me? Yes. Is making writing a sustainable career important? Hell, yes! But how about the bad reviews, the rejections, the days of poor sales, the friends who can’t be bothered to buy my books? Basically, someone else’s subjective opinion of what I do? Is that important? No. Everyone who puts themselves out there creatively is going to encounter those who negate or otherwise crap all over what we’re trying to do. The last thing we should care about is people like that.
Easier said than done? Of course, but I found Manson’s message inspiring, especially as a writer. If I let all of the stuff I can’t control go, and focus on what I can control–namely, doing the best work I can, learning as much as I can, and budgeting wisely–there’s no limit to what I could achieve. He adds that when people admit they’re flawed, that they have challenges and negative traits just like anyone else, that’s when they tend to succeed. An image of perfection is not genuine.
Have you read Manson’s book? What would you choose to not give a f*ck about anymore? Or what should you give more f*cks about?
P.S. I’m behind on blog comments/visits again, but promise to catch up this week. Hope everyone had a wonderful New Year’s celebration and is feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
The purpose of the Insecure Writers’ Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. To see a full list of IWSG authors, click here.