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Have You Suffered from Time-Off Poisoning?

Well, I’ve made the move from Oklahoma to Massachusetts. After months of getting rid of things and packing, the drive lasted three days. Then Pam and I had to wait over a week for all our things to arrive. Then we spent weeks arranging our new home. At last, I’m able to begin a little story work.

Why haven’t I done story work so far? Sure, the house work has taken most of my time and energy.

But, to be honest, there is another problem: I have lost confidence in myself. After 6 weeks devoted to packing, moving, and unpacking, I have a bad case of what I’ve come to call “Time-Off Poisoning.”

Not the First Time

I remember other times when, intentionally or because of a slump in some section of the storytelling market, I have taken a couple months off.

Each time, I had a hard time starting up again. Each time, I could hardly remember – in spite of decades of this work – that I knew anything about telling stories. Or about coaching. Or that anyone else thought well of my work.

Others, Too

Some of my buddies experience this, too. It doesn’t seem to matter how much fame or success you’ve had. If you take an extended time off, you may face a crisis in self-confidence when you return.

If famous and successful long-time storytellers face this, it’s no wonder that many (most?) beginner and intermediate storytellers do, too.

What to Do?

If you are facing – or have already faced – such a “Time Off Poisoning” effect on your confidence, start by remembering two things:

1. You are not alone. Others face this, too.

2. This feeling has nothing to do with your actual abilities. Therefore, don’t take it as a sign that you shouldn’t be telling. Treat it as a phantom feeling, unrelated to the reality of your storytelling abilities.

Next week, I’ll send out two more quick tips, on strategies for dealing with Time Off Poisoning – including the antidote that got me back on track.

For now, just note that this effect exists for many of us. Don’t be fooled by it!

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