“Psychologists have begun to speak of what is perhaps the largest mental health problem in our day. It is not depression or anxiety, at least not at clinical levels. It is languishing—a failure to thrive.”
~~John Ortberg, The Me I Want to Be
We usually associate this languishing “failure to thrive” with newborns. But we adults can languish in our health, our careers, our marriages (or just about any endeavor). But today I want you to look back over 2013 at the health of your writing life.
Do a Check-Up
What is the health of your writing? Would your writing career be diagnosed as suffering from “failure to thrive”? Is it languishing when you want it to be flourishing?
Some symptoms of languishing might include:
- A loss of hope and meaning
- Absence of mental and emotional vitality
- Weariness of soul
- Inability to delight in your writing life
- Feeling an inner deadness
From Languishing to Flourishing
The opposite of those symptoms would include feeling hope, having mental and emotional vitality when you write, being energized by your writing, delighting in your writing life, and feeling “alive” when you are able to get in the flow!
That would define “flourishing.” [Note that I didn’t define flourishing by the number of contracts signed or the size of your royalty checks. Those things make individual days more fun, but they have little to do with overall flourishing as a writer.]
The Missing Ingredient
What if you are starting out 2014 as a weary, languishing writer? Is there anything you can do about it? How do you get from the “languishing” side of the equation over to the “flourishing” side?
You find it in the word “nourish.”
The equation goes like this: Languish + Nourish = Flourish
To be honest, if you are truly languishing in your writing life, it will take lots of nourishing of your writer’s soul to move into flourishing. But the nourishing is FUN! And once you are flourishing with hope and energy again, the nourishing falls more into the daily nurturing and maintenance of your writing life.
- Some of you need physical nourishing: more sleep, better nutrition, some solitude.
- Some of you need mental nourishing: a good novel or movie, a trip to a museum.
- Some of you need spiritual nourishing: prayer, meditation, a walk in the woods.
- Some of you need emotional nourishing: hugs from kids, a phone call to a friend.
- Some of us could use nourishing in all four quadrants now and every day.
Flourishing as a writer doesn’t just happen. Life happens instead. And it depletes your energy—all four kinds.
Don’t settle for a languishing writing life in 2014. Make flourishing one of your goals instead! Examine what areas of your life need nourishing, and make a plan to include that nourishing. (Remember: nourishing is FUN!)
Where are you on this continuum?
Languishing —> Nourishing —> Flourishing!
Where would you like to be? Begin to make those changes today.
And please leave a comment! If you are flourishing now, tell us the nourishing things that got you to that point. If you’re languishing, hopefully some comments will give you ideas to try. Do NOT settle for a diagnosis of “failure to thrive.” Choose to flourish instead.