Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips

Happy Positive Thinking Day!

The origins of this holiday seem to be a bit murky. Legend has it that an entrepreneur founded it in 2003 to encourage others to overcome negative thinking. Whatever the origin, I’m always up for an excuse to celebrate and inject some positive vibes into the world – complete with cheesy images!

glass-300558_960_720Too often, we creative types succumb to negative thoughts. When you consider our introspective natures and the sensitive subjects with which we work, it makes sense. We put so much of ourselves into our craft, it’s difficult not to take things personally.

Today, whether you’re reading this on Positive Thinking Day or not, I challenge you to take a negative thought and reframe it in a positive way. The thought you choose will be personal to you, but here are a few that I’ve dealt with in my writing life:

Why even write a novel? It’s going to suck.
My first novel may not be my best, but I can always improve. (Longer pep talk here.)

Everything I write is garbage.
I’m still learning as an author, but at least I’m practicing my craft!

That author writes faster/has better books/earns better reviews/makes more sales than me.
That author is doing really well. What can I learn from them to improve my own writing? (More on dealing with jealousy here.)

I’m never going to make it as an author.
Overnight success is a myth. I can make it if I work hard, establish industry relationships, and learn to market myself and my work.

field-328962_1920I can’t write. I have writer’s block/am unmotivated/am tired/am busy.
I am taking a mental health break from my writing. I will return on [insert date] and write [insert goal]. In the meantime, I do what I must to unblock myself and I will not guilt myself. NOTE: This is not permission to procrastinate. There is a difference between caring for your health and laziness.

I have no idea what I’m doing. Any minute my readers will call me out as a fake.
Imposter syndrome is normal, and even big-name authors feel this way. As long as I’m still learning and improving, that’s all anyone can expect of me. (Here are a few mantras to beat imposter syndrome.)

I wrote one book. It was a fluke/failure.
If I wrote one book, I can write another. It will be even better, because I have grown as a writer. Next-to-no first books are break-out successes. I can become successful over time, with a respectable back list, strong writing, and smart business practices.

Still feeling negative? Here a few resources to help you out of your funk:

The Successful Author Mindset: A Handbook for Surviving the Writer’s Journey by Joanna Penn – I gave it 5 stars!
Why You Have to Be Your Biggest Fan – The Smarter Artist Podcast
25 Things That Will Definitely Make You Smile via Buzzfeed
40 Powerful Mantras to Help You Think Positive via Marc & Angel Hack Life

Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips

The Power of a Writing Streak

If you can’t tell by my listed and categorized New Year’s resolutions (not to mention the countless other organizational habits I reveal through my website…), I’m a big fan of using efficiency, logic, and positivity to “trick” myself into being productive. And luckily for me, it’s still early enough in 2016 to do just that.

That's one way to keep me at the keyboard...
That’s one way to keep me at the keyboard…

Every day this year (yes, all whopping six of them at the time of this writing), I have written on one of my works-in-progress. Now, for you more seasoned authors, or you enviable full-time creatives, this probably isn’t impressive. But for those of you stuck in the day job grind or the continuous battle with “the muse,” you know that, sometimes, maintaining even a measly six day writing streak can feel like climbing a mountain. And with how much hell Desertera #2 is giving me, I feel like I’m tackling every inch of Everest.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m an “all or nothing” person. If I’m going to do something, I put all my energy into it and do the best job I can. If I don’t think I can do it well, I usually don’t even try. Is this a great philosophy? Obviously not. I’m continuously working on it, but for the time being, I’m learning to work with it. And if you want to accomplish your goals, whether writing or otherwise, you need to sit down, psychoanalyze yourself, figure out your weaknesses, and find a way to turn them into strengths.

Learning to manage this personality quirk has been one of my greatest accomplishments over the last few months. Slowly, but surely, I’ve seen a quantitative increase in my writing and a qualitative increase in my writing itself and my attitude towards it.

For those of you needing a little inspirational boost, here are some of the many benefits my writing streak has given me:

  • A sense of purpose
  • Increased confidence in my writing ability
  • Less “staring at the blank page” time when I start a session
  • A healthily growing word count
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • Greater creativity in other aspects of my life
  • Closer bond with my best friend (who is my alpha reader)
  • Validation of my authorial aspirations

And here are some of things my writing streak has taken away:

  • Guilt at not doing my creative work
  • Feelings of self-doubt and self-loathing
  • Time spent binge-watching Netflix

We’re only six days into 2016. I know I’m still in the New Year honeymoon phase, and I know this streak cannot last. But what I do know is that I’m making progress toward my most important goals, putting something good into the world (even if the world can’t experience it yet), and feeling better about myself in general. And all it takes is actually sitting down at the keyboard and putting in the work. Some days, it may be a struggle to get there, but if I can remember my strategies to get started…and the feeling I had while writing this post, I know I can keep hacking away at my goals, one word at a time.

As for you…if you want to join me in this honeymooner bliss (or stay here with me), you’ve got to commit. You’ve got to be brutally honest and figure out what’s keeping you from your ambitions. Fear? Laziness? Poor time management? Don’t be ashamed – we’re all human, and we all fail. Victories come one day, one minute, one word at a time. Find your weaknesses and learn how to beat them.

What goals are you working toward? What keeps you from writing or doing other creative work? How can you find the motivation to overcome your weaknesses?