25 Jan 2011

Kindness Is Not A Swear Word

(Kindness n The quality or state of being kind. Kind adj Humane, considerate, tolerant, generous, agreeable, warm-hearted,friendly, charitable, understanding. Ety: from O.E. gecynde "natural, native, innate," related to cynn "family"and pre-Germanic gakundiz)

I've been wanting to use Kindness as WoTW for a little while now, especially after last week's word; I've been blogging regularly for nearly a month now and one thing has really struck me in that time. In all the blogs I read and all the tweople I follow, in all the discussions about writing, writers and authors just seem to be *so* hard on themselves and their work. What happened to being kind to yourself? Just why are we so self-critical and lacking in confidence + self esteem when it comes to our projects and w-i-ps?

Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of the X-Factor style delusion either (you know, when the tone deaf idiots show up to audition thinking that they're the next Mariah Carey only for SyCo to set them straight). It's important to understand that for the most part your work on a day to day basis isn't going to be the next War and Peace but equally, it's no Snooki/Katie Price either. Why can't we give credit to ourselves for trying to follow our dreams and do something different and creative.

I think maybe some of it is attitude related - I think it's very British not to blow one's own trumpet - but some days I think we need to acknowledge what we've achieved; whether that's an amazing scene, a new plot twist, another 1k/5/10k of words or simply just finding the perfect word for what you're trying to say. Why *not* celebrate that? It is good to recognise when you're just that little bit closer to finishing your masterpiece. It sounds terribly cliched to say *think positive* but sometimes that helps. 

One of the reasons why Nanowrimo worked for me + why it was so great was because of the lack of pressure - all I had to do was work towards a word count. It didn't matter if those words were crap or not - and that was unbelievably liberating. I felt happy to just write and write - and yes there was tons of dross but I think you need to work through the crap to get to mine the gold underneath. This attitude of positivity and kindness is also something I have learned - and practised - at work when it comes to being creative. You genuinely can't get to the really good ideas without chucking around some seriously crazy ones too. In fact I've been told in one job that they paid me to come up with "daft ideas"!! 

So lesson number one, for me at least, about kindness: relax your attitude a little, ease up on the inner criticism and feel free to play around with the crazy ideas and tangents - you never know what amazing plot line or character you might discover.

The other part of kindness, is that it's not just attitudinal, its about how you actually act towards yourself in both giving and receiving kindness. Sometimes when someone is kind to you it's really frickin hard to trust that kindness. After all - as many people on twitter said - an act of kindness is often an act of selflessness, giving without expecting anything in return; in these cynical times of economic doom + gloom it can really be hard to believe that people will give something for nothing. I am particularly learning that with twitter and blogging - that people will RT me or follow me or recommend me or let me interview them - and for what personal gain - nothing. It is amazing to be able to accept that and see that they have faith in me and want to help me. The more I see that the more I want to be kind to other people too. Again another cliche but the whole idea of pay it forward I think makes a big difference. Doing good makes you feel good. 

So lesson number 2 that I have learned is just to accept when other people are kind and *trust* them. To just open up and allow people to be kind to me so that I can learn how to be kind to other people - but also how to be kind to me; which will have a knock on affect on my writing.

I know that this week's WoTW has been a little mushier than usual but I'm in a bit of a reflective mood today. As some of you know (and some of you may not), last year was a bit of a tough year and I had a melt down over Christmas. When I went to see the doctor, as well as giving me meds + an appointment with the counsellor, she also told me to be kinder to myself and to learn how to worry less. So this post is my first tiny step on that journey. I know it's a little self indulgent but I hope you'll forgive me this once.

Thank you and good night

Stupidgirl has left the building

PS Many thanks again to all the tweople who gave me their thoughts on kindness, you know who you are - couldn't have done this without you


  1. That's a very nice, or, well, kind blog you have written here... I like the twist that we should be more kind to ourselves and I think you are right. I will easily forgive you for this reflective post - it's the first I have read from you but I liked it. We like to be kind to others and define it as doing something for another without gaining antyhing in return, yet when it comes to ourselves we are the harshest judges.

    Thank you for writing this, I think a lot of people, like me, will feel understood by it.

  2. Thanks so much for your comment + taking the time to do so. I am glad if you feel it said something that you feel too!

  3. You're right, kindness starts from within [ourselves]. I've been very harsh on myself lately, and sort of bittersweet towards others. As long as I'm always kind to people though, I can always pick my spirits up again. All it takes is for one person to be unkind & I'm down in the dumps. Someone left a cruel comment on my blog, but through the kindness of others I was able to feel happy again. Great blog post :O)

  4. So glad to read that you are being kinder to yourself...

    That's the first step to opening up to kindness with others - both offering and accepting it.

    You are lovely, my friend.

  5. Hear hear! You may remember a few years ago a young, bride to be called SG45 contacted me about creating jewellery for her wedding.....and I talked myself out of it. I do headwear, but have done jewellery courses too. But I kept thinking I wasn't that good, so didn't want to take on your wedding jewellery in case I messed up your big day. I really kick myself about this because I know I couldve made you something fabulous. (I know you got something great anyway).

    A few years on & I'm much kinder to me now. I accept praise & allow myself to say "I made this" if I'm out & about in something I've dine. And now business is booming. Be knife to you, others will follow.......and then it'll all fall into place.


  6. Note: please be nice to yourself and not knife yourself!!!!!

    And I've done not dine something! (hangs head in grammatical shame)

    Posting comment from iPhone late at night leads to these errors :-)

  7. Hooray for kindness to oneself and to others. Sometimes I think people who really don't like themselves have a problem liking others, and therefore find it hard to be kind. If we are kind to others, we like ourselves better which leads to more kindness all around. Very thoughtful post!

  8. "I know that this week's WoTW has been a little mushier than usual"
    Nothing wrong with being mushy. Some of the best people I know are regularly in a state of mushiness :)

    It's been a while since I've seen kindness in a total stranger. So much so that I've begun to accept that it's a quality humanity is losing as it devolves further and further every year.
    It's inspiring to know that there are still some kind people left out there :)
    And being as detached from the rest of the world as I am, I always have a supply ready if you need any :)

  9. It always pays to be kind to someone else - just a smile does it a lot of the time, so yes, great post and we all need to be kinder to ourselves than we often are.

    And this year has just got to be better :-)

  10. A very insightful, thought provoking post. Being kind to yourself, i.e. easing up of self doubt and self criticism, is the key to accepting kindness from others, in my experience. For a long I a deep seated feeling that I was inadequate, especially socially. Thus I found it hard to accept that those showing kindness were sincere. I wouldn't say I'm out of the woods, but I'm getting there. Interestingly, reaching out to others, showing them kindness, is a powerful way of breaking out of the cycle.

    Another perspective is the idea of enlightened self interest. If people are routinely kind to one another, they benefit from the kindness of others when they are in need. It's rather like the rule of law, only focusing on the positive rather than trying to eliminate the worse excesses of unkindness.

    To get back to matters lexicographical,I think part of the problem with people's perception of the word kind is that is is confused with pity or condescension, as is 'he's just being kind' as if the recipient is not really worth respect. To my mind true kindness is fact a signal that the kind person respects any sympathises with the interests of others.

    [Reaches for reference shelf]

    Life is mostly froth and bubble,
    Two things stand like stone,
    Kindness in another's trouble,
    Courage in your own.

    Adam Lindsay Gordon 1833-70: Ye Wearie Wayfarer (1866)

  11. Thank you so much for all your comments people - very kind + thoughtful of you. This subject really has resounded with a lot of people.
    Perhaps we need to make being kind fashionable again!