This week we revisit a past episode. Enjoy!
What do you tell yourself about your writing? That it’s fabulous, or that it’s not so great? That you have all the time in the world, or that you never can find enough? That you are the only person who can tell this story, or that you aren’t qualified? What we tell ourselves about our writing makes a huge impact on the actual productivity. In today’s episode, we’re looking at two specific (and very common) thoughts that want-to-be-writers tell themselves that look innocent … but can actually cause some damage to our goals.
Today I want to start with gratitude. Thank you for listening. Thank you for writing and sharing your stories. Thank you for looking for ways to become a more powerful writer. Thank you for being here, for taking ten or so minutes out of your day to listen to me talk about my favorite subject.
And I want to ask you to take a minute, right now, and be still. Whatever thoughts are swirling around in your mind, let them go, just for a moment. I’m going to ask you a question, and I want you to really pay attention to the first answer that comes to mind. It won’t be the same every day, or even every hour. But let’s try and see what comes to mind.
What do you tell yourself about your writing?
What do you tell yourself about your writing?
Hang on to the answer you’ve heard as we go through this episode. You might find that you aren’t the only one who tells yourself that very same thing.
When we tell ourselves things, it causes emotions. Then those emotions cause us to act. In the most basic sense, if we tell ourselves something negative about our writing, we are likely to feel a way that we don’t want to feel. For example, if I tell myself that what I’m writing is no good, I will probably feel defeated or frustrated and will most likely quit. Whereas if I tell myself that what I’m writing is fantastic, then I will probably feel excited or enthusiastic and am more likely to keep writing. So the idea, then, is to practice thinking those positive thoughts – and more importantly, believing them.
If we think about our thoughts in terms of being negative or positive, then this is all pretty straightforward. But there are things we tell ourselves that we think are objective, that are simply factual. Today, I’d like to talk about a couple of these which I hear SO many people say and why, in fact, they aren’t factual, and are, in fact, likely to make you give up.
And I don’t want you to give up. Your writing, your stories, they matter. So let’s take a look at these two “objective” thoughts.
The first one is this: I don’t have time to write.
I know that some of us are still claiming that our lives are too busy to write. While on the surface this thought seems straightforward and objective, it’s not. The truth is that we all have the same 24 hours in the day. Yes, some people’s responsibilities eat up more minutes than others, but we have all heard the stories of people who wrote their bestseller while commuting to their job, or while their children were napping, or in the wee hours of the morning or night.
If we look closely at this thought, what it actually means is “I am not prioritizing writing right now.” And if that’s the truth, THAT IS OKAY. We all have different priorities at different times. But please, tell yourself the truth. If you don’t, you will never, ever find the time.
The second “objective” thought is this: I don’t have the right credentials. This might also sound like “I don’t have a writing degree” or “I didn’t go to school for this”. Though this thought is connected to the broader who do I think I am, they’ll find out I’m a fraud dilemma that nearly everyone faces from time to time (a.k.a. Imposter Syndrome), on its own it’s completely useless. So you don’t have your MFA. So what? Do you know how many published writers don’t have a specialized degree? (I actually don’t know. But I know it’s a lot. If you know, tell me!)
The thing is, this is a classic fish-or-cut-bait situation. If you want an MFA or other certification, if you truly believe that’s what is best for you, then go get it. Otherwise, just start writing. Practice makes…well, you know. But if you keep waiting for the magical credentials to fall into your lap to make writing easier then, well, you’ll be waiting for a long time.
Now I know that this is a bit of tough love if you’ve been thinking either one of these two thoughts, but in truth that’s why I’m here. These objections stem from fear and self-doubt, which is a totally normal reaction to an action like writing which requires vulnerability, patience, and a pinch of self-confidence. And that’s what I want to help you move through. Because whether you are telling yourself that you don’t have time, or that you aren’t qualified, or that you’re too old, or that you don’t know how, or something else that you think is a reason that exists outside of yourself …none of these things are true. What is true is that you are facing a challenge. Writing is hard, and you know it is hard, and so your brain reacts by coming up with reasons not to do it that seem objective and factual.
But they aren’t REAL.
What is real is that you, in all of your glorious, busy, non-MFA-having life, have a story to tell.
Writers, your story matters. Please, stop telling yourself things that keep you from moving toward your writing goals. And if you need support, I’m here for you. I’ll talk to you next week.