I’m frequently tricked into reading about the habits of famous people. Especially acclaimed authors, since I read way too much crap about the process of writing (instead of using that free time to actually write.)
The typical puff piece will read like “Chuck Pahaliuk, what’s your writing process?” and Chuck explains his rituals like “oh, I shoot espresso into my veins like it’s heroin, kill three homeless women after my book outline is finished, masturbate into the opening on tissue boxes, begin every page of writing with the word humdinger and then stare at the bookshelf in my office packed with my best sellers.”
This is an exaggeration. No homeless women or tissue boxes were harmed in the writing of Fight Club. As far as I know.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the vast majority of authors hate the writing process as much as I do. All of these habits do one thing — distract from the task. Thanks for nothing. I assumed writers hated writing, just as I assumed garbage men hate collecting cans of waste. Trash men will take no solace in reading up on the collection process of other garbage men. I’m sure their main concern is getting people to stop calling them garbage men and instead refer to them as sanitation workers. I suggest embossed business cards.
My point — in my ramblings about tissue box masturbating and garbage men — is that if a person is frustrated with life, reading about the frustrations of others isn’t therapeutic. It often makes things seem worse. So how does a person cope with the fact that life never goes according to plan? How can a person reduce the level of suck on a day to day basis?
Here are four things to keep in mind when you’re knee deep in life’s excrement.
Remember — you don’t have it the worst
You don’t have it the worst. Not by a long shot. Not even close. Just open the newspaper and the first four pages. You’ll immediately feel better.
Also, don’t care the profession — writer, sales, stand-up, photographer, actor — you’re not the worst to ever attempt to make it a career. You’re probably not even in the bottom one hundred. People attempt and fail to do the same thing you do every day. At least a thousand people gave up in just the time it’s taken to read this article. Take comfort in knowing that you’ll never be half as terrible as countless others.
Remember — that orphan girl was onto something
Annie. Little Orphan Annie. The ginger who was adopted by the rich guy. Her life sucked. Then one day she’s the daughter of a millionaire. All because she sang about a sun coming out the next day, which was code for, today sucks but you’ve got a reset button.
If things go really bad, just go to bed. It’s got nothing to do with sleep (but sleep is more important than you realize — here read this) but more about bringing an awful day to an end. Having an awful day? Screw it, go to bed. Wake up in the morning and things have already gone wrong before you’ve left the house? Go back to bed. Tomorrow is another day. It might be just as awful as your burnt Pop Tarts, but as long as there is another day after that, there is hope.
Remember — being the best isn’t all magical unicorn farts
Everyone aspires to be number one but that lofty position isn’t always so awesome. Being number one, and staying number one, has way more pressure than being number forty-five. I’m a writer but I don’t need to deliver a best seller every time. Suck it, Palahniuk. Pressure leads to stress, heart attack, drug abuse and hundreds of other issues you probably don’t have at the moment. It should feel pretty good to be mediocre. No one expects that much.
Remember — this is the end
Wait, I forgot the word “not.” This is not the end. Whatever is going on in life, it’s not going to last forever. Whatever you’re doing — school, work, moving through life with zero money or opportunities — isn’t going be that way for the long haul. You’ve just got to take the general and be specific — that one thing in life you do incredibly well. It’s called specialization. People make millions in specialization.
The takeaway from all this is to stay positive, shovel through the shit, and remember it could always be worse. You could be Pahaliuk’s tissue box.