SELF-TALK/SELF-PERCEPTION: CONSTRUCTIVE OR DESTRUCTIVE?
Authors are creative people, and creative people are trained by nature or design to explore alternatives and ponder motivations--the layer below the surface, and the layers under that one. We have to do these things, and be good at doing them, or our writing is surface-clutter and lacks the depth and complexity of the human mind, heart and spirit.
Combined with Voice, that ability to see many layers (insight to note, voice to express) equal great writers’ assets. Imagine trying to pen a book without them! Yet these same assets in the actual work can be complicated webs of mines in the field of our writing business. These mines can take the form of interacting with other industry professionals to be sure, and that can cause the writer all manner of challenges. But even before that challenge can occur, there is one greater that can blow the entire minefield up--right in the author’s face.
That challenge is self-talk. How the writer relates internally, speaks to and with and about him or herself. His or her self-perception, attitudes, ideas about him or her--the human being--and then, after all that, his or her perceptions about those same things as they relate to the work, the profession and the life.
Too few people realize the enormous power of thought, and writers are particularly vulnerable because theirs is a totally creative pursuit: creating something from nothing. Manifesting a story, peopled with three-dimensional characters that live in readers’ minds is a terrific example of the power of thought. And yet even we “creators” too seldom make that correlation and fully understand the power within it.
Because we don’t connect those dots, we fail to grasp the significance and impact of our thoughts. In its simplest form, think of the concept in these terms: If your thoughts are garbage and you dump them into your mind, then your mind is a garbage dump.
Why? Because you’ve created it. If garbage goes into the dump, then only garbage can come out.
Why? You can’t take out what you first don’t put in. If you doubt it, try taking a file off your hard drive you didn’t first put on your hard drive.
Now I think we can all agree that we and our readers deserve better than garbage. It’s smelly, decomposes, and serves no constructive purpose. And that’s only the surface clutter of the damage that negative self-talk or negative thinking can do.
Remember, anything you manifest first begins as a thought. An idea. A dream to pursue. Your thoughts direct the manifestation. If you believe you can manifest it, you will. You might not see the path for it when you begin--who among us visualizes the final form of a book before we write the first word?--but if you work at making your wish/idea/dream/thought manifest, the path will appear.
Note thought comes first. That germ of an idea that will by your efforts grow into a book.
That is, if you nurture the thought. Feed it. Groom it. Do all you must do to manifest it.
Now that requires a major investment from you, and you’re aware of that. No such thing as a free lunch. Nothing worthwhile comes easily, right? So imagine yourself in the following situations:
The situation is:
You have that germ of an idea for a book. You’re excited, enthused. It’s rich, complex enough to hold your interest, the characters intrigue you. You love it and you can’t wait to write it.
Then the following things happen:
•You doubt you have the ability to write it as it should be written.
•You look at other published works and see nothing like your idea. Maybe there’s no market for it and writing it is a waste of your time.
•Worried, you have a writer friend take a look, to get a second opinion. Said friend comes back to you with an “it’s risky. Special, but risky.” You don’t need risky. You’re not set in your career. You’re building. You can’t afford risks. You need a sure thing.
You keep talking to yourself, and determine it’ll never sell. You’re wasting your time. And so you abandon or shelve the project.
That’s negative self-talk. You’ve murdered an idea that well might have become your defining project. A project that defined a trend for other authors. You blew a chance to blaze a trail.
The power of thoughts. Enormous.
Imagine letting go of the negativity and embracing possibility and potential.
Ability is subjective. I have enthusiasm and vision. The rest can be edited until this project is written as it should be written--as only I can write it. This isn’t arrogance, it’s fact. No other author will make every exact choice on a novel as any other author. Only you can write your book and manifest your vision.
There’s nothing like it on the market. Yes! I could be first. Blaze a trail. Someone has to blaze trails. Why not me? That’s how we got Harry Potter and every other beloved story in written history. Someone blazed a trail.
And NOTHING I write is a waste of time. I learn something from everything I do. Houses are built brick by brick, and any missing brick weakens the whole structure.
There are no sure things. That is an illusion--and not one I want to embrace. Risks are part of life and taking them isn’t a sign of weakness but of strength. I believe in this idea, in this book, and my faith in it, my determination to make it manifest, assures me that manifesting it is worthy of my time and effort: this segment and share of my life.
Being worthy, not selling, is the determining factor. There is purpose and strength in this project. I see, feel and believe in it. Can it be made stronger? Perhaps--and I’ll work to do that. But so long as I believe, I will not abandon.
That’s more constructive self-talk.
This isn’t to say that every idea should be developed and pursued. But those that fire your imagination and get that bubble floating in your gut have earned the right. Does that guarantee they’ll sell. Of course not. Some books I’ve written have not sold. Some of those have never been submitted. Some have sold years after I’ve written them, when the market has caught up.
That brings us to another mistake writers make: believing that only published or sold books prove success. Neither ever has or ever will. Selling does not define the work. The writer defines the work. First by thought, then by acting on those thoughts.
You can talk yourself into or out of just about anything. Things worth doing and those that aren’t. Even those your instincts warn you to avoid. What you can’t do is be a proponent for negative thought--a gateway for it, if you will--and blame anything else for your circumstance.
Responsibility for your thoughts begins at home, with you, inside your mind.
Letting your thoughts control you, rather than you controlling them, is a wickedly costly error. So many times I hear people say, “I can’t help it. I can’t not do this or that. I can’t get it right.”
Well, the truth is you can help it. You have the option of choice. Choose to do or not do. Choose to get it right.
We all remember the story, THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD. The “knock that ‘t’ off can’t. These elementary examples aren’t just exercising positive thinking. They go far deeper. Into faith in oneself, into external expression of our inner selves.
If we believe, we can manifest. If we doubt, then we manifest that, too. A simple truth, yes. But a truth, nonetheless.
What we think, what we believe, the way we see ourselves and our work--those are our reality, and though we’d like to blame others for our circumstance when things aren’t exactly stellar, the truth is we create our reality.
Which is why it is so critically important that we think constructively, see ourselves and our work constructively, surround ourselves with constructive people. We must guard ourselves against negativity and destructive behavior and conduct--in ourselves and in those we permit to enter our circle. Otherwise, our minds and works and lives become polluted, tainted, and then we have to overcome the obstacles created. “You are what you eat” doesn’t just reference food. It refers to what you take into your mind and heart, your thoughts, too.
If you think negatively, are surrounded by negative people, then you will become tainted by that negativity and your fears (which hosts most negativity) will become self-fulfilled prophesy. You will create it.
Self-talk and self-perception are things we can control. Admittedly, we’ll do better at it at times than others. But if we keep working at it, remembering the power of thoughts and the impact of negativity and that we create our reality and are responsible for it, then we will spend a lot more time feeling content and peaceful with what we do. And we will minimize and/or avoid this mistake we otherwise make--in our writing and in our lives.
And that brings us to two other mistakes writers often make, Motivation and Frigidity, which we’ll discuss in Part 4 of Mistakes We Make.
I hope this helps!