I’m starting 2017 hoping to accomplish what I didn’t in 2016, namely the completion of another novel. However, I’m fighting the dispiritedness related to constantly striving for something that might never happen, namely getting a novel published.
After doing some introspection I came to the conclusion claiming to not have time to write is a crutch I can no longer use. I don’t write because I don’t want to be rejected. I don’t write because I keep hearing how hard it is to get published. I don’t write because I believe I’m not good enough.
But, I want to write. I want to create stories and bring the characters I love to life, hopefully so a reader can fall in love with them too.
At this stage in my writing career I’m tired of the push and pull between my rampant imagination and my fragile ego. I began reading about motivation and found a couple of helpful articles. The first one is written by world class athlete and Guinness world record holder Christopher Bergland entitled One Motivational Technique Really Works (And It’s Easy!).
(The second article will be discussed in a future blog.)
Bergland discusses the paper Brief Online Training Enhances Competitive Performance: Findings of the BBC Lab UK Psychological Skills Intervention Study (link is external),” which was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology in June, 2016. The study had 44,000 participants which speaks to its validity and reliability.
The question the researchers posed was “What psychological skill is associated with the greatest improvements to performance?”. They discovered positive self-talk and visualizing were the best ways to stay motivated.
The simplicity of the results are staggering as is how easy they are to do.
Here are the adjusted results for writers:
Tell yourself you can write more and you will.
Tell yourself you can write better and you will.
Tell yourself you enjoy writing and you will.
Imagine yourself writing more and you will.
Imagine yourself writing better and you will
Imagine yourself enjoying writing and you will.
For me enjoyment is key. If I enjoy writing I will want to write more.
There is a second result of this study. If-then planning is not as effective as positive self-talk and visualizing. For example, saying to yourself, “If this publisher/agent doesn’t want my book, then I’ll send my book to another one.” creates a strategy for failure and doesn’t inspire or motivate you to keep writing. It’s better not to plan for failure but when it happens immediately tell yourself, “Someone will want this book.”
In conclusion the article talks about pragmatic optimism and defines this as equal part hubris and humility. Self-talk shouldn’t be, “This book is the best book ever written” and an objective critique should never be ignored.
So welcome 2017! I optimistically see a completed novel before your conclusion.