And now onto Part III, what I’m titling:
“Ahhhh!!!!!” (Advice Overload)
Raise your hand if, whether in pregnancy or during your writing journey, you’ve ever felt so bombarded with suggestions, tips, and “must-follow” advice that you wanted to scream from the rooftops: “I DON’T NEED ANYMORE HELP, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!”
I know I definitely have, both as a writer and a mother-to-be.
From what kind of writing software to use to which outlining methods to adopt, I’ve received a plethora of tips and insights from wonderful, well-meaning writers. Over the years, however, I’ve learned to take each trick and tidbit with a grain of salt. That’s not to say I don’t listen to or heed others’ advice (I’m not that prideful!), but rather I don’t put pressure on myself to embrace and perfect every tool, philosophy, plot structure, etc. that crosses my radar.
Since becoming pregnant, I’ve been inundated with advice (often conflicting advice…) from friends, family members, acquaintances, even strangers in line at the grocery store. I should say that I’ve also voluntarily been filling my own head with all manner of pregnancy and labor/delivery information. Basic female anatomy. Pregnancy hormones and their functions. Labor interventions. Birthing positions. Midwifes, doulas, OBGYNs, and the differences between them. Oh, and of course I’ve also been researching baby products and furniture, doing my best to ensure we don’t overspend or buy things we actually won’t use, or things that are friggin’ adorable, but don’t really serve a purpose (thank goodness for YouTube – the mama community there is so helpful and amazing!).
Slowly but surely, I’m learning to apply the same mindset to absorbing pregnancy advice as I have to writing advice. I accept – graciously, I hope – and appreciate what I’m told, knowing that most people offer their input because they genuinely care and want to help, but I remind myself I don’t have to put it into action.
I don’t have to sign up for that writing course or webinar. I don’t have to buy that brand of diaper or baby shampoo. I’m under no obligation to please the people who have given me their two cents by implementing what they’ve advised. My responsibility, to myself, my husband, and my babies (book babies and human baby), is to become educated and well informed, and then do what’s right for us.
“One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.”
– Shannon L. Alder
Cliché as it sounds, we are all different. Special snowflakes everyone of us, designed and created with different personalities, preferences, and purposes. Our brains are all wired differently. Our bodies function differently. Our backgrounds have helped mold and shape our perspectives so that we think about and respond to the the world around us differently.
These differences aren’t wrong or bad or disadvantageous in any way. Think how dull and colorless the world would be without them! No, our quirks and passions and idiosyncrasies are beautiful, and beneficial. The moment we try to suppress or deny them, we sabotage our own happiness and delay the fulfillment that can only be reached through self-acceptance.
What’s right and awesome and best for someone else may not be so great for you, and that’s 100 percent okay. Even when it comes to something as monumental and life-changing as giving birth, that’s true. Different women will plan and nest, labor and deliver, and care for their little one in different ways. As long as what they’re doing isn’t harmful, to themselves or the baby, no one has the right to judge or fault them for their choices.
So, if and when you find yourself standing on a rooftop, ready to scream and stomp and stuff your writing dreams down a chimney, stop. Take a breath. Look within yourself. Take note of the precious gifts and abilities inside of you, then see which pieces of advice best serve them, and which can be respectfully discarded. When you do, I promise that you, and your babies (whether creative or physical) will flourish.
“Take care not to listen to anyone who tells you what you can and can’t be in life.”
– Meg Medina