Energy vampires are all around us. Whether we are writing at home or mingling in the outside world, certain people, settings, or practices can zap our mojo. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are three common vampires and ways to vanquish them.
Casper-the-Friendly-Ghost Kind of Vampire
These are well-meaning people who ask how your writing is going. Some are genuinely interested. Others are being polite. Spend energy on those who are sincerely interested. Their eyes will stay focused as you are talking. Most people don’t know the publication process, so be prepared for them to not understand how long it takes for a book to be published, or that getting a short story accepted for an anthology is an equal win to a book contract.
One way to deflect well-meaning energy vampires is to have your signature story ready. This is a story of a few short sentences about why you write, or what inspired your book. Be mindful of how you state things so that you aren’t sharing more than you intended or are stepping outside of your emotional boundaries. When you practice your signature story, you are in control of the conversation.
Other friendly vampires are people close to you who subconsciously sabotage your writing time. Recognize that this is really a fear of change on their part. They want you to be happy and succeed, but they also fear what may be altered in your relationship or in your daily routine. Establish boundaries by setting office hours to help with things they need or spending quality time together on a schedule that works for you.
These will be people intent on taking away your positive energy. When around true vampires, put your tongue on the roof of your mouth. This protects your energy boundary. Deflect as much as possible. When they ask about your work to dig for a soft spot, turn the conversation back to them. Ask how their writing is going. But don’t spend too much time listening. Scan the room for an opportunity to walk away.
After an encounter with a true energy vampire, ground yourself. Go for a walk barefoot in the grass. Work with your hands in the soil. Create a mood board with images of your goals or box of treasures as a touchstone to anchor you. It also helps to write a list of your allies who are cheerleading for your writing success. If this person’s words or actions stay with you, mentally visualize hanging up the phone on them. You can even say, “I am disconnecting this phone call now.”
Vampires of Your Own Creation
It is easy to get caught up in chasing the next shiny thing, whether it is a new writing project or a volunteer opportunity to grow your audience. Scattering your attention in too many directions drains your energy. And I’ve found that without a singular focus, it takes me longer to complete one project. Celebrate each writing win in the moment without raising the bar for the next one.
Another technique is counting to five before leaping into an opportunity. I read about this practice in the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown and it has been a game changer for me. Consider whether this project is in line with your writing goals and daily routine. Watch for Fear of Missing Out, or reactions that start with “I should…” The right project will be there at a time and place that is best for you.
A word about clutter… Seeing stacks of magazines you intend to read actually drags you down. I confess that I have a storage tub filled with past issues of Writer’s Digest. The craft content is relevant, but the publishing industry changes so quickly that much of the information is obsolete. Your writing space doesn’t need to be perfectly organized. But if there are stacks of things that have been gathering dust for a year, send them to the recycle bin.
For measurable energy vampires, invest in a plugging strip. Appliances that are plugged in continue to draw energy, known as vampire energy. Turning off the power strip when you shut down your computer and other office equipment saves a measurable amount of energy. I experimented with using plugging strips for everything except major appliances. My electric bill one mild-weather month was only $24. Be kind to the earth and your bank account by warding off electricity vampires.
With these techniques, you can create a positive environment for yourself and your writing space. No garlic needed!
Ambre Dawn Leffler is a Tai Chi instructor, gardener, and weather geek who writes about vegetables, seasons, communing with nature, and the interconnections of mind/body. She loves trees and cherishes time in their presence. Learn more about her tree time, garden residents, and wellness practices at her website ambredawnleffler.com and seasonal inspiration from her newsletter Sky Earth Water. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram.