Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I chose today to blog since this is my favorite holiday of the year. (My daughter also turns 11 tomorrow). Anyway, in my last few years of college, I used to go to the University of Missouri—Rolla, cover myself in green, and celebrate with all my friends who were members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. St. Pat’s was huge when I was there in the 80s.
I have to admit, many a times, I didn’t know my limit and drank way too much green beer. Rolla was a party school, and I could tell you many stories we won’t even get into here. Now I’m older and wiser. But sometimes I still struggle with limits, especially in writing. I may have only a limited time to write. My publisher only has limited spots to place my book. My writing may be limited by my creativity. And worse, I can be limited by my own self-doubts.
But once I began to look at setting limits as positive things, I discovered that by setting beneficial limits, I had more control over who I was and how much I could accomplish. I could remove restrictive limits and replace them with positive ones that helped me reach my goals. I eliminated the limits that held me down, and added limits that protected my creativity.
Just as our characters have limits, authors also have tolerance thresholds. While we analyze our characters and establish their limits, many times we don’t spend enough time contemplating our own. Worried about our careers, we may push ourselves into areas in which we may be uncomfortable just so we get a sale. We may agree to a PR tour we don’t want to do. We may commit to writing faster than we normally do, at the expense of our family and our sanity. We have pushed ourselves beyond our limits, and that can lead to burnout, frustration, and doubt.
Limits you set for yourself should not be limitations. Limits are self-imposed and self-directed, based on doing what is best for you. Just like limiting how much you might spend on promotion, or limiting how much food you eat, limits should be positive choices that yield positive benefits. Knowing your limits can eliminate guilt and self-doubt. Once you choose to create positive limits, you’ll be in control. Limits allow you to set priorities, and say no to those things that aren’t important.
So evaluate whenever you feel something is askew. Ask yourself whether the limit you’ve placed on yourself is harmful or beneficial. If it’s bad, change it to something that benefits you. For example, you may find you get more writing done if you limit the time you spend on line reading blogs or posting on message boards. Or you may find that you need to limit your writing time slightly so you can create an online presence. You may choose to limit the amount of chapter activities you do so that you can spend more time with your family. Setting personal limits that you are comfortable with is healthy. The person you answer to is yourself. You should know where your limit is long before you reach it.So what are the limits you’ve set that are holding you back? How can you get rid of them, and turn them into something positive?