This is very true. Self help is easy to make fun of, and from my experience, writers tend to be particularly cynical about anything that might have 'pop' attached to it. But the reality is, when you are chasing any pursuit that lacks the stability of a day job, it's easy to drift into a sense of hopelessness. The little markers of progress that you wouldn't even think about in regular job, become something you crave when you're working away on your Magnum Opus.

In that absence of that feedback, little scraps of advice, frameworks and examples from people who have 'made it,' become invaluable to a writer-- for your own sanity if nothing else.

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Dec 15, 2022Liked by Hattie Crisell

Thanks for this Hattie.

I daresay Aging is another factor of change we're all subject to. Like many, I've wrestled with ambitions, doubt, encouragement, hesitation, slivers of success and the rest of life's challenges.

There is an accumulated benefit of making the attempt to create over time. As I've gotten older, going over the same ornery ground of my lesser tendencies has become suspect. For some of us, we may arrive at a point in our lives and say, enough. Something like "If not now, when?"

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Dec 15, 2022·edited Dec 15, 2022Liked by Hattie Crisell

I needed to hear this as I've become too cynical on the self-help paths I could follow to make some traction. I love how all of your articles are brimming over with excellent information and advice. Every single time!

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Next to my bed I keep a book called ‘A Year of Grace: Passages Chosen & Arranged to Express a Mood about God and Man’. It’s a compendium of wisdoms from different spiritual and philosophical traditions collected by Victor Gollancz, a

British intellectual and publisher of European Jewish heritage. A well-worn but beautiful copy was sent to me by a relative when I was going through a hard time. I slowly read all the passages (often in the bath), marking particularly interesting quotes with a post-it. The author had compiled it from a year of reading while he himself was going through a hard time. I’m not sure if it would be classed strictly as ‘self-help’. I do think that genre at its best is like a helping hand from another person, generously offered to you though their writing.

How funny the chosen assemblage of the titles from the Harry and Sally, still! I like the one that says ‘Crisis!’. I wonder too if our associations with these books had something to do with modern publishing and how they need to be given provocative titles in order to sell. Often what’s inside is much more nuanced....But sometimes it’s also vacuous nonsense churned out to prey on people’s insecurities and to personally make then responsible for issues that come from larger societal constructs.

Bon bref, thought-provoking piece as ever! Merci Hattie ! France is happy to have you here.

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Another great article, Hattie. 2022 has been a year of reflection for me unlike any other and I think that's in part due to shifting to deal with work stress, (often lack of) success and bouts of imposter syndrome that still like to creep into my life. And the nature of that shift? Finally turning to meditation and making it a daily routine in my life, thanks to Sam Harris and (no commission, sadly) his Waking Up app. It's really just helped with letting the pressure off things and keeping a grounded and sometimes totally new perspective on life, but the added bonus is that it seems to have let some of the creativity back into my being that was being suppressed by too much focus on things that, ultimately, weren't worth the mental effort I was letting them have.

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Serendipitous timing as I was actually thinking today about how I’m starting to finally notice a mindset shift when it comes to my writing, where I’m learning to take it more seriously again, like I did when I was in my teens. And so I entirely agree that change and growth is incremental - I think epiphanies, whilst they do happen, take a while to actually spread their roots in your consciousness. You can have an epiphany, a realisation, but it takes time and work to ensure it beds in and flourishes. I think my latest mindset shift is a culmination of epiphanies and ramming my head against the same advice over and over again until it’s finally taken root.

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I really like the way you write and express yourself.

"And yet… I believe/hope I’m getting wiser. Sometimes I stumble over an old text message or email or diary entry – evidence of my stupider self – and I’m shocked by how I thought and behaved. I’m still no genius, but a couple of weeks ago, emerging as if from nowhere, a new and promising idea came to me – for a book I gave up writing over a year ago. I really think something had been happening behind the scenes, though it’s hard to know how."

We do change. All the time, with each experience. I find it very interesting to know that we're constantly developing. It makes me want to live through as many things as I possible can, and it makes me curious to find out how the next version of myself is going to think and behave.

From the internet:

"Our brains are activity-dependent, meaning that the electrical activity in every circuit—sensory, motor, emotional, cognitive—shapes the way that circuit gets put together."

"Everything that you experience leaves its mark on your brain. When you learn something new, the neurons involved in the learning episode grow new projections and form new connections. Your brain may even produce new neurons. Physical exercise can induce similar changes, as can taking antidepressants. By contrast, stress, depression, ageing and disease can have the opposite effect, triggering neurons to break down and even die. The ability of the brain to change in response to experience is known as structural plasticity, and it is in a tug-of-war with processes that drive neurodegeneration."

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