How to be an Unstoppable Writer — Part III

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing a few of my top tips on how to be an unstoppable writer, a topic I’m extremely passionate about because I firmly believe that mindset is everything when it comes to achieving our writing dreams.

I’m back this week with two more tips, but before I dive in, here’s a summary of what’s been covered thus far:

To be unstoppable…

  • Establish Clear Goals
  • Don’t Just Think — Take Action
  • Don’t Be Driven By External Things
  • Never Stop Learning
  • Never Arrive
  • Be True to Yourself

I’m kicking off this week with a tip I personally believe is one of the most important because any time we let fear influence our decisions, we almost always wind up hindering our progress and making ourselves a little bit more — you guessed it — stoppable.

I. Don’t be Afraid of Failure

“I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate.” — George Burns

Let’s face it. It’s human nature (unless you’re an adrenaline junkie) to stay put on terra firma where it’s safe. A fall from thousands of feet up can kill you, after all, whereas falling a mere few feet will probably just leave a few scratches. Most people never reach for the stars or walk out on a limb because the distance away from their comfort zones is just too great; the fear of falling — of failing — holds them back.

I posted a quote on my fitness-related Instagram account that says, “Every failure is a lesson. If you are not willing to fail, you are not ready to succeed.”

Failures are part and parcel of success. They lay the foundation of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding we need to realize the dreams fluttering around in our hearts. They fortify us with the character necessary to manage success humbly and gratefully. They teach us invaluable lessons which we will call upon in the future to ensure we don’t make the same mistake twice. They validate our passion; it’s only when we truly love something that we risk failure, pain, and embarrassment in its name.

Unstoppable writers know that there is no success, nor satisfaction, apart from failure. Therefore, they don’t see failure as a foe, but rather as a mentor figure, a Yoda or Mr. Miyagi if you will, whose job it is to rough us up a bit and instill in us the discipline we need to truly thrive and persevere.

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” — Michael Jordan

II. Work on Your Mental Strength

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” — Thomas Jefferson

The power of unstoppable people begins in their minds. As writers, we know how potent the mind can be, as we use it to think up characters, imagine settings, and create entire stories! To be unstoppable, we need not only strong imaginations but also fierce control over our thoughts. Wherever our thoughts go, our lives will follow.

“You’re wasting your time. You’re never going to finish this manuscript.”

“No one is going to read this. And if they do, I hope you’re ready for one-star reviews!”

“Wouldn’t you rather get on Pinterest or watch Netflix right now? C’mon, you deserve a break.”

“You don’t have time to write.”

“So you have five free minutes? You can’t get anything productive done in that time. Might as well scroll Instagram.”

Those, my friend, are toxic thoughts that end up crippling stoppable people.

But we are unstoppable, and so we stomp on those thoughts the second they rear their dream-squashing, progress-hating heads.

Everyone has different strategies for how they best deal with negative thoughts. Ignoring them, however, is typically not recommended.

When a negative thought sprouts in your mind, take a moment to acknowledge it, then try applying one of these four defenses that I’ve had success with in my own writing life:

  • STOP IT. This one is the simplest because all it requires, after the acknowledgment, is a firm command from you to you. Interrupting the “stinking thinking” with an authoritative “Shhhh!” (or something harsher, depending on your preference) will prime the pump for more productive thoughts to flow.
  • SWAP IT. If you want to take “STOP” a step further, replace the negative thought with its opposite, positive counterpart. For example, if the thought was, “I don’t have time to write today,” tell yourself, “I have five minutes [identify the time slot]. I can definitely outline my next scene.” Or, if the bad thought was, “I’m never going to finish this manuscript,” think “If I just write a little each day, it will get done!” instead. Add some punch to this positive thought by saying it aloud. Hearing it come out of your mouth will reinforce your resolve to tune out the negative.
  • SEE IT. A third favorite defensive strategy of mine is to get still, silent, and then visualize what it is I want to accomplish. As soon as negative thoughts come cascading into my brain, I turn on peaceful music (I love Spotify’s “Cinematic Chill-Out”) and let the thoughts rush out as fast as they spilled in. Once they’re gone and my mind is clear, I envision my current short-term goal and the next immediate step to reach it. If the goal is to complete a novel, then most often my next step is simply to write a page or two. I imagine making a cup of coffee, lighting a favorite candle, sitting at my laptop, and doing what God’s gifted me to do: write. Mentally going through the motions of productivity prepares us to carry them out out in reality.
  • SCRIBBLE IT. This is sort of a no-brainer since I’m assuming that you, like most writers, express yourself best through the written word. Jotting down the negative, discouraging thoughts as they come will bring awareness to them and make you realize just how toxic and destructive — and often ridiculous — they really are. Once we see the thoughts on paper, we better understand what we need to think, say, visualize, and do to prove them false and unfounded.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful! I’ll be back soon with more tips on how you and your art can be even more unstoppable!

Now get back to writing! :-)