Letting go of the idea of perfection is a hard on, but here’s a great lesson: Whatever you do can be changed. Because things evolve and nothing is perfect the first time around.
On the flip-side of perfection is negative self-talk and how that can hold you back. Today I have five hacks for you to banish that negative self-talk, because it doesn’t serve any purpose in your life.
When I started the WriterSpark podcast, I thought all I’d be doing was giving tips and tricks. Helping people skip the line. But it’s already evolved into much more than that.
Yes, there are tips and tricks–a lot of them–but as well as the writing craft, there are discussions on business and on creativity. Which is why the name of the podcast has also gone through a slight change.
It is now: The WriterSpark Podcast: Business, Creativity, and the Craft of Writing
This much more accurately captures what I want to talk about with you and with other writers.
Understanding that you can change things after you’ve started is really important. As writers, I think it’s pretty common to get hung up on the idea of perfection. And that notion can really stymy forward momentum.
That’s what today’s episode is all about. Go listen to it and follow along here if you’re like me and like to have visual cues.
The bottom line is that everything can be changed…everything evolves…including your writing.
Whatever you write can be revised.
Raise your hand if you’ve gotten stuck with your writing and haven’t known what to do, or what to write next? I bet a lot of hands are in the air.
Keep those hands up if you’ve ever felt like what you’ve written is just terrible. Crappy. The worst writing you’ve ever done.
I have felt that… many times. I often feel like the book I’m currently working on is the worst one I’ve ever written—and I think that when I’m not even finished with it! How’s that for negative self-talk?
In our household, we have always discouraged that type of self-defeating negative inner dialogue. My husband has always piped up with, “No negative self-talk!” during dinner. Our kids, as a result, hear that mantra in their heads even now as adults. Hearing something over and over can really help you internalize it.
So…no negative self-talk.
Instead, let’s turn that around. If you feel your writing isn’t up to par, or what you’re producing is crap, or anything along those lines, you need to stop. Stop and reframe this thoughts.
This is where we come back to the first thing I said here, which is everything can be changed.
Your thoughts can change. Your plot can change…I have been known to change the victim and even the villain of one of my mystery novels after the whole thing has been written just because it didn’t feel right.
And your writing can change…through the process of revision.
Knowing that you can and will revise can free your mind. It can allow you to give yourself permission to just write. Write brilliantly. Write horribly. Write tritely. Just WRITE.
And when you get to the revision process, dig into it, because that’s what revision is all about.
Now, let’s dive into my 5 hacks for chasing away negative self-talk:
- First you have to recognize that you’re doing it. When you catch yourself thinking or muttering to yourself that your writing is terrible, or you’ve just written crap, or whatever words surface, own it. Acknowledge that you’re reinforcing the negative with those thoughts.
- Reframe it. Once you’ve acknowledged it, reframe it. Change the words. My writing is NOT terrible. What I wrote is not crap. Put a positive spin on your inner dialogue.
- Leave it for Later. Give yourself permission to leave it. Say: I will revise it later. And then move on to something else. Today’s writing is not going anywhere! Don’t let negative self-talk stop your forward momentum.
- Shorten the Timeframe. If you’re the type of person who just can’t move on—or if the idea of leaving it ‘as is’ is just too much—then shorten the timeframe. Keep going so you finish your current writing session and then start the next session by rereading and reworking the previous day’s work.
- Let your Subconscious Work. If there’s something in particular that isn’t working, step away from that scene, move on to something else, and let your subconscious help you solve the problem.
And that’s it. The message I hope you’ll take away from this episode is that nothing is perfect the first time around. You can’t expect it to be, especially when it comes to your writing. I’ve learned so much as an author, but even after 32 books (to date), nothing I write is perfect the first time around. Revision is key. I revise. My editor revises. It takes a village, and it takes time.
It’s perfectly okay—even expected—to be frustrated by your skill or perceived flaws as a writer (or as a creative of any kind). Remember, though, you’re your own worst critic. We tend to be very hard on ourselves, which is okay in some ways, right? It can push us beyond what we thought we could do. It can challenge us.
But it can also cut us off at the knees.
Doubt and insecurity is part of the journey for every creative person. What we do is personal. We’re creating something from nothing and it comes from deep inside ourselves.
Getting mired in the doubt and insecurity can stifle your creativity and your forward process. It is up to you to stop that from happening…to recognize the negative self-talk and reframe it.
You have the power to do that…to give yourself permission to write crap, write terrible, and to let go of the judgement you put on yourself.
I’ll see you next time. Until then, happy writing!
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