This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. In today’s post we continue the chapter we started last week on Taking Control of Your Mindset.
From a very young age we’ve been taught to ask for permission – “May I leave the room, miss?” “Can I have another piece of pie, mom?” The publishing world has also taught us that we need the permission of gatekeepers before our words see the light of day.
However, we now live in a world where blogs and self-publishing are commonplace. Are we still waiting for permission to start?
The reality is the first person (and often only person) who needs to give us permission is ourselves.
If we haven’t committed to a project, if we haven’t acknowledged that we can and should be writing, then we’ve withheld permission to begin. That roadblock is of our own making, and only we can tear it down.
Choosing a project, and committing your attention to it, is all the permission you need.
Give it a go: What would you do if you had permission? Write down your answer, and then give yourself permission in writing. Sign your name at the bottom. Now go invest your time and energy in your new project!
We want to be known as a writer. We want to be read by other people. We want to take our place in the writing world.
This sounds like the kind of recognition that can only be bestowed by other people, but first ask yourself these questions:
- When people ask me about myself, do I identify myself a writer?
- Do I give the proper attention and time to my writing?
- In other words, do I recognize myself as a writer?
Others won’t recognize you as a writer until you take yourself and your writing seriously. If you don’t call yourself a writer and act like a writer, how will others recognize you as one? The best way to get started is to give yourself a pep talk and get writing.
Give it a go: Start identifying yourself to others as a writer. The next time someone asks you what you go for a living, say you’re a writer. Make a poster declaring yourself a writer. Set aside time each day to write.
We want to shine in the eyes of others, especially those closest to us. It’s natural to want someone to say, “Well done. I’m proud of you.”
Unfortunately, relying on other people’s approval is like flying a kite – we will find ourselves continually at the mercy of elements outside of our control, the fickle winds of opinion. The constant adjustments and sudden dips will never change.
Don’t wait for others to approve of you. Approve of yourself and keep moving forward. Shut down the voice of your inner critic and allow yourself to be proud of what you accomplish. When you reach the end of each day, find something (no matter how small) that you can say “well done” about.
Give it a go: Make a list of your recent accomplishments. Don’t focus on what went wrong with them, or what didn’t turn out exactly as you planned. Instead, spend your time patting yourself on the back for the progress you’ve made, the words you’ve created, and the results of your hard work.
Ideas are essential to a writer, but they can seem to pop into our head without warning or disappear for long periods of time. We may feel we’re at the mercy of that elusive spark.
However, inspiration is not as fickle as it first appears. By understanding our personal creative process and keeping our ‘creative well’ topped up, we can place ourselves directly in inspiration’s path.
By maintaining a positive outlook and a regular creative routine, you can attract inspiration like bees to pollen. (We’ll cover the source of creativity and the elements of a good creative process in a following chapter.)
Give it a go: Find an activity (like reading a book, walking in a park, visiting a museum) that you find creatively rewarding. Regularly set aside time in your monthly schedule to feed your mind high quality idea fodder.
Writing projects can tend to loom large on our horizon, especially when the excitement of a fresh idea wears off. We face a mountain of things to do without any idea of where to start. We might wish that someone was there to tell us what to do, to take the lead and give us direction in our writing life.
Often the problem is we’re trying to tackle the entire project all at once. We need to remember that all projects, no matter how huge, are completed in tiny steps. Even experienced writers still only write one word at a time.
If you’re not sure of where to start, write yourself a To Do List. Keep breaking down your To Do List into smaller and smaller chunks until you find something you can start on. If you’re working on a first draft, start anywhere. Just get the first word on the page, and then the second. They’ll eventually add up.
If you don’t know how to do something, then start by learning. View reading a book on the subject or watching an online course as the first step in your project.
Give it a go: Start a To Do List for your project. Take each major task and break it down into smaller tasks until you find something you feel able to manage. Then get started on that task.
As you can see, these needs which first appeared to be out of our hands can often be filled by simply changing our mindset. One of the best ways to help us make this transition is through writing a personalized pep talk, where you can get your new mindset down on paper. We’ll cover that in next week’s post.
Add your comment below. What writing project are you working on at the moment? How have you given yourself permission? What is next on your To Do List?
I’m finally getting back into my writing routine (although I’ve just had a flu jab today so we’ll see how that goes). I’ve fallen a few months behind with my fiction writing schedule, but my priority at the moment is to make sure I’m setting achievable goals for the coming months. My De-Stress Your Writing Life posts are one of my top priorities because I promised I’d always have something encouraging here for you to read on a Friday.
If you’ve found the above helpful, please either send the information on to a fellow writer you feel would benefit or leave a little donation in the kitty to help things along.
Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.
Thanks for dropping by.