Thursday, December 5, 2013

Positive Self-Talk for Writers

From Cheryl's Writing Crate

As a working mom of 8 kids, I suppose you could say my days are busy.  OK, make that very busy!  Truthfully, I enjoy being on the go and the way I stay grounded is by waking earlier than the rest of the house so I can spend ½ hour – 1 hour quietly writing my morning pages and contemplating about the day ahead.  In fact, I gladly give up that extra hour of sleep just for my own inner peace and as a way to help me organize my thoughts.

I started a new job a few months ago and am learning things I’ve never had to do in the workforce before.  While I find some of my new duties challenging, the one constant that has kept me focused and feeling confident is the co-worker who has been training me.  Not only is she extremely patient, she’s also a big believer and speaking positively each time I conquer a new piece of the job.  I can tell you I never tire of hearing her say, “Great job, Cheryl, you are becoming a master at this grant writing!”

That got me thinking about how I talk to myself when I’m writing an article, a column or working on my novel.  I often read aloud so I can see how the piece sounds and if it flows.  It also gauges how I feel about my writing on that given day.

I ask myself if I like what I’ve just heard, but often I’m a harsh critic.   There have been times I’ve read something aloud and wondered why I wrote it and then the negative self-talk sneaks in and makes me question how I could ever get this particular piece published and what was I thinking when I began writing it.
Now that I’ve been hearing positive feedback from my new co-worker, however, I’ve stopped to evaluate how I talk to myself when I step back and critique my writing.  Sometimes I just chalk it up to having a bad day and take a break.  But more often, I’m becoming more mindful of my inner critic and instead of saying negative things to myself, I’m stopping and appreciating the fact that at least I’m trying and I then change my comments to positive ones so that I can pick back up and let the muse flow once again.

I love post-it-notes for this very reason.  I have several of them stuck to strategic places in my writer’s crate that say “You can do it” or “One step at a time” for when I’m overwhelmed with deadlines that are on tap.   It takes my mind off of negative thoughts and reminds me that as a writer, I can do anything I put my mind to.
Writing is work. Work we love, but still work.  By monitoring our thoughts, we can make it easier on ourselves. And the end result? Well, it will speak for itself.   What is your self-talk like?

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