I think I know why writers are often portrayed with a drink in hand. It's not the writing that causes them to unravel, it's the publishing process!
I have completed a solid first draft of my book and am in the process of trying to hire a freelance editor to help this book reach its potential. The publishing process, not the act of writing, is causing me to lean heavily on my meditation practice. I am no stranger to fear and doubt, but I seem to find myself in their company with unnerving regularity.
Carl Jung said, "What we resist, persists." So, I have chosen not to resist their presence but to accept it. When they begin to speak, I meet their words with Tara Brach's RAIN practice. I feel how doubt sits in my body. I often feel my guts constrict and my breath retreat to the confines of my chest. My hands become cold and clammy all the while my body begins to spin like a pinwheel sending sparks in all directions. When I ask doubt what she is believing, I am often met with phrases like -
"Maybe my book isn't worthy of publication."
"All my life I've said I wanted to be a writer, what happens if I don't become one?"
I notice how those beliefs sit in my body and if there are any changes. I then proceed to ask doubt what it is she needs to hear. Often, she just needs to be nourished with love and swaddled like a baby. She needs to be reassured that she matters and has every right to go after this dream. Sometimes I need to cry simply to release the tension.
Each time this vulnerable place cries out in pain, I have the chance to grow. Each time she and her friends begin to chime in with their familiar monologues, I can choose how to respond. When I bring RAIN to the pain, I can be as the Buddha said, "a refuge unto myself."
In an ironic twist, a few yeas ago I wrote, "Passing the Tests," which speaks to my habitualized perceptions. Maybe a wise place within wrote the poem knowing I would need to rely on it when I set out to chase my dream. I return to this poem again and again when I am in need of a friend to help me respond, rather than react, to that pesky clique (doubt, fear, jealousy, anger...).