Writers, we sometimes tend to be different people than the national norm. Not all of us, but some of us. I know a few of us who are really positive people, but a whole lot of us feel like the world’s ending when we can’t think of anything to write for the day’s blog or we’re stuck tight in a plot line. What if it never gets better? What if this is all we’ve got? What if all of that is true?
I tend to be one of those people who thinks worst-case scenario. If something goes wrong, I think it will always be so. If I write a blog post I think will cause all sorts of waves and maybe even hit the coveted viral spot (even though that’s overrated) and then I share it and it’s crickets, I think no one likes the things I write and that I’ll never be popular enough to do the whole blog-a-book thing. And if I have a book that doesn’t do as well in a launch as I’d hoped, I think that it’s probably always going to be this way, that no one will ever enjoy my writing and the people who read all my writings right now are probably the only audience members I’ll ever get.
So it’s odd that I would be the one to make a case for thinking positively, since that’s something that most definitely does not come easily or naturally to me. My husband is a positive guy, and he’s usually the one who can talk some sense back into me when I’m feeling a little down about something that went wrong for the day. He’s usually the one who can help me see what it is that I’m doing inefficiently and how I can learn from the disappointing experience.
If you don’t have a husband like mine, maybe I can help you a little.
There are all kinds of studies that show us the power of thinking positively. We can accomplish more in a day when we meet it head-on and see its challenges as learning experiences rather than you-should-give-up-now experiences.
It’s much easier to bounce back from hardships when we see them as learning experiences.
Recently, the hard drive of my computer, where I have ALL of my writing (the ONLY place I have ALL my writing — about three million words that exist in no other place on earth) decided it didn’t want to be all that helpful anymore, and I thought I’d lost it all. Years of writing I would never get back.
My husband, of course, thought it would be possible to restore everything, and he hoped enough for the both of us. I was ready to hang up my career, because that was eight manuscripts I’d worked on last year, and how would I ever recover from that? There were book releases that were fast approaching, and I didn’t have any of those books available anywhere else. It was the worst thing that could have happened.
My husband spent hours trying to recover my work, and he succeeded, not thanks to me.
But I’d lost a whole day to worry. I’d lost a whole day to imagining the worst-case scenario. Sure, I tried writing a little to distract myself, even though I didn’t have a computer to write on and had to use my husband’s unfamiliar one that didn’t know my hands like mine knew them, which was, in itself, a reminder of how dire this situation was (what if I didn’t get all that work back? What if I lost whole years? What if my computer was broken for good?). The writing helped me not think about it as often. But every time there was a lull in the typing of an essay, I would go right back to thinking about how I‘d have to give up. It wasn’t worth trying so hard again, not if we couldn’t recover those files.
Everything ended up perfectly fine. And what we learned from the experience is that we need to back everything up, because those files are far too important not to — and we do this every evening when I’m done for the day.
How much time would we save in thinking positively? I’d wasted a whole day thinking negatively. I could have done a whole lot in a whole day.
I know it doesn’t necessarily come easily for all of us, and I know it can get difficult to see the silver lining in something like losing a whole hard drive with three years’ worth of work on it, and it can be hard to see the positive in a book release that fell flat, and it can be hard to look at personal problems with something akin to hope. Sometimes we’re too afraid to hope, because we’d rather imagine the worst-case scenario and then be pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t end up that way.
But we could save ourselves a lot of heartache and worry if we would just think something like this:
Yes, this will go well.
Yes, I can do this.
Yes, I will get through this.
It’s not easy to change ourselves so drastically, but here are some things that might help us see the value in positive thinking:
1. We won’t spend as much energy worrying.
So many studies point to the fact that worrying is terrible for our bodies and our minds. It affects us physically and emotionally, and that, too, can affect our ability to write well. If we weren’t spending so much time and energy worrying about what might happen, we could spend a little more time writing. Which is always needed in the life of a parent writer.
2. Thinking positively has been proven to make us feel happier and more fulfilled.
If we’re a glass-half-empty kind of person, we tend to see everything with a glass half empty. We see our family and our relationships and our writing and our life half empty. I want to see my life full. I want to see my relationships and my family and my writing with a glass half full. I want to believe that this is the best life ever — even if my hard drive crashes and I lose all my work — and that the future has great things in store for me. Maybe being disappointed, if those things aren’t actually true, is better than being pleasantly surprised, because, along the way, you actually get to LIVE.
3. Thinking positively could possibly bring those positive things to you.
There are different camps to this line of thinking. Some say it doesn’t matter what your mind thinks, the universe gives what it gives. But more and more people are recognizing the power that our minds can have over what we get in life (and some scientists have even proven it in studies). When we see things in a positive light, they say, we tend to attract those things.
And if I’m looking at it objectively, when I’m caught in one of my negative thinking patterns, I tend to see the negativity everywhere. What if we expected the best? Would the best then come to us?
Well, I guess I’d like to try. Wouldn’t you?
Rachel is the author of the kid-lit fantasy series, Fairendale; the poetry book, This is How You Know; and the Family on Purpose series. She writes about writing on her blog This Writer Life, contributes regularly to Huff Post and faithfully writes 5,000 words of fiction and nonfiction every day.