Dinner with a friend who says she wants to be a writer.
“I’ll get going on it as soon as I finish this project I’m working on.”
Since I know she’s been working on “this project” for, oh, four or five years now, I gently suggest that she just plunge in with other work.
She takes a sip of wine and shakes her head. “No. I have to get this done first.”
Sounds like she is letting fear get the best of her, I think, but I don’t say anything. The conversation continues.
“I’d like to do some freelancing but I’m a slow writer.”
Now I can’t stay quiet. “Um, are you sure that’s not fear talking? Because you can learn to write faster, you know.”
“No.” Another head shake. “I’m just a slow writer. So it won’t work.”
The conversation continues but I give up on trying to convince her that her goals are viable. Because — she is too busy arguing for her limitations.
Arguing for your limitations is a fast path to cementing a negative mindset. And a negative mindset will hinder, if not derail, your writing success.
Because the thing is, what you think about, grows. If you look at the world through the eyes of a grumpy writer who thinks the world makes it impossible for creatives to succeed, odds are good that’s what will come to you.
But if you look at the world as a beautiful, lively place bursting with ideas and opportunities for writers, that’s what you’ll get.
Here’s how it works:
Negative mindset — difficulty getting to the page — no writing gets done. And listen closely, people, if you are not getting any writing done your writing is going nowhere.
Even if you do manage to get to the page, a negative attitude can corrupt your writing session. Because if the backbeat to your writing is a constant stream of thoughts about how awful your writing is, you’re not going to last long at your writing desk.
So let’s look at how to ditch your negative mindset and uplevel your writing.
Quit Complaining About Your Bad Habits
I have a friend who procrastinates. He loves to talk about it.
“Oh, I just didn’t get anything done today,” he’ll say in a proud voice.
And talking about it keeps him stuck right where he is — procrastinating. Not writing his novel. Not accomplishing his dream. I’ve noticed this with other people, too. Instead of speaking about how they can accomplish their dreams, they speak about why they can’t.
You’ve heard the phrase speaking truth to power? This is exactly what you’re doing, whether you’re talking about your terrible habits or celebrating the good ones.
Talking writing is a fabulous thing. But using that time to talk about your terrible habits most definitely is not.
List Reasons Why Instead of Why Not
Not, writing takes me away from my family, but, because writing makes you happy.
Not, but, I’ll never be successful because I’m not good enough, but, I will keep honing my craft.
Not, nobody cares anyway, but, I write because I love it so it doesn’t matter if anybody cares.
Get the drift? Of course you do.
Don’t Wait Until Conditions Are Perfect
Because they never will be. Trust me. I know people who say they’re going to get back to their writing — just as soon as the kitchen remodel is finished. Or when their oldest goes to college. Or when the dog quits barking.
Okay, so that last example is a bit silly, because the dog is never going to quit barking. (At least mine isn’t.) And that’s the point — conditions are never going to be perfect for writing. If the dog quits barking, the cat will start meowing. Or the baby crying. Or your neighbor will pull out his leaf blower. Or your kid will move back home.
There’s always going to be something to stop you from writing. Don’t. Let. It.
Take a Good, Hard Look At Your Excuses
Are they as dumb as waiting for you dog to quit barking? Probably not. More likely they are real stumbling blocks that cause you pain. And that pain is real. But the pain of not writing is going to grow, and grow, and grow if you let the other pain stop you.
Because when you really, really, really what to write, if you aren’t writing the pain of that will eclipse all your other pain. It’s like the famous quote from Anais Nin:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
What is Your Wound?
Discovering a potential client’s wound is a big thing for marketers. Because once you identify someone’s wound, you can design a product to heal it.
Guess what? You can do this for yourself. Most writers I work with have a very simple wound — they want to write, but they can’t get themselves to the page. There’s a very simple solution for this simple wound. Start writing.
Yeah, I know. But:
The only way out is through.
And in this case, “through” means writing. As you know.
So get to it.
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