I spent decades of my life saying negative things to myself. As a result, I was unhappy and unsuccessful in nearly everything I did. It wasn’t until I recognized what I was doing, started seeing a therapist, and made the conscious effort to speak to myself with kindness, that things changed for me.
Often I see new writers who speak unkindly to themselves too. I wish they understood the more negatively you speak to yourself, the less likely writing success will come your way.
Below I have a list of the top five things wannabe writers say to themselves that keep them stuck in failure. I also listed what to say to yourself instead and how to fix the problem.
1. I’m So Disorganized.
This is the secret that super organized people know — organization does just happen, it’s daily work! If your house, office, desk, ideas or life is super disorganized, find the tools the experts use and make them work for you!
What to say to yourself instead: Today I’m taking 10 minutes to get more organized. I’m starting small. Something is better than nothing. Go me!
What to do: Take 10 minutes, make a list of the specific areas you want order in. Then, commit to ten minutes a day working on this area. You’ll see progress. You’ll find order. Try also Flylady.com (my personal favorite).
2. I’m Not Any Good.
How do you get better? With practice! The most talented writers in the world did not just spring up out of the ground as NYT bestsellers. They worked on their craft over and over until they grew in skill and confidence. Learn all you can about the craft of writing. Be teachable. Find a mentor. Take a class. And write every day!
What to say to yourself instead: Everybody has to work hard. I’m no different.
What to do: Take 10 minutes and write. Don’t evaluate it or edit it. You just practiced! Then take another 10 minutes and request writing books from your local library’s website, or search Goodreads for the best books and buy them. Commit to teaching yourself and you’ll get better!
3. What If Someone Doesn’t Like It?
If you choose to be an artist, then you’re choosing to have a bad review occasionally, you’ll receive a rejection letter or two and your skin will have to toughen up. But somewhere, someone will like it. This is your first fan. If you don’t write, you’ll never find them. It is for this reader that you write what you write.
What to say to say to yourself instead: What if someone does like it? That will be awesome!
What to do: Read all the one-star reviews of your favorite books on Amazon.com. Notice how this negativity keeps these authors down. (Hint: it doesn’t!)
4. I Don’t Have Time.
You’ll pardon me if I roll my eyes on this one. You do have time for everything you want to do. All you need to accomplish your writing goals is a minimum of ten minutes a day. It took me five years to write my first book, but I did it. I examined my carefully to find the time, made the time and then worked all the time!
What to say to yourself instead: I can find the time!
What to do: Spend ten minutes looking at your schedule on a daily and weekly basis. Where is there a lolly-gagging time that can be devoted to writing? What Netflix show can you forfeit for the sake of writing? I bet you can find a lot more than ten minutes a day.
5. I Don’t Have What I Need.
This excuse is an easy fix. If you are reading this, you’re on a computer or a smartphone. That means you have what you need. Don’t have word processing software? Put your work on Google docs. Or go low-tech and buy a spiral notebook and a pen. Don’t let this small problem keep you from pursuing your dreams.
What to say to yourself instead: Wow! That was easy!
What to do: Spend ten minutes finding a place at home that will be your workspace — it doesn’t have to be big or glamorous. (I spent years standing at my kitchen counter on an iMac.) Then set up a document, create orderly files, put that journal in your handbag, get a great pen. You can do this!
There really is nothing stopping you from pursuing your writing dreams! Now speak kindly to yourself and get to work!