The Optimistic Mindset for Writers
The most common concern I hear from my writing clients is, ‘What if my book/story/idea isn’t good enough?’ Imposter syndrome is wildly common for writers at every stage in their career but is especially raw for writers who are just starting their first novel. A bad writing day or (subjectively) negative feedback on a piece of writing can feel crippling.
Our beliefs about ourselves are powerful, and our inner critic is often much louder than the parts of ourselves who believe in our abilities. But there are strategies we can use to drown out the doubts and give our inner supporter a chance to be heard.
An optimistic mindset is an essential tool we can employ to keep our fears at bay. Now, I’m not talking about the kind of optimism that tells us that everything will be okay no matter what. That’s not realistic, nor will it make you a better writer. I am talking about an optimistic mindset that recognizes the obstacles and challenges in our writing and encourages us to keep working past them. Notice I said ‘working.’ Optimism isn’t simply putting our dreams into the universe and hoping they are magically handed to us. Instead, optimism helps us identify the things in our way and encourages us to take action to overcome them.
A simple strategy you can start with is affirmations. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Your thoughts are incredibly powerful. Bolstering them with daily affirmations and positive visualizations is one easy adjustment you can make to create more productive thoughts. There is evidence to suggest that the things we think about before bed turn into the things we process while we sleep. As you fall asleep, consider repeating a few affirmations to help build optimism around your writing process. Here are a few to start:
I believe that being a published author is part of my journey.
Rejection and criticism won’t stop me. Instead, I will learn from them and grow as a writer.
I believe in myself and my ability to become a good writer.
Another strategy is to focus on the things in your control. If you received critical feedback about a piece of your work, that’s great! You can control how to implement that feedback into your work. If you received a rejection letter from an agent, that’s great! Allow it to fuel your motivation to keep going. Your success will feel that much sweeter. Focusing on those things in your control and working towards solutions will inevitably bolster your writing abilities.
In addition to these strategies, you might find it helpful to keep a box or file with references to your past successes. This can include positive reviews of previous work, notes from friends or family, reminders of why you love writing, or previous awards or recognition for your work. Keep this box or file accessible on days that feel particularly challenging to prove to yourself that you are valued and remind you why you started this journey in the first place.
Your optimism is the fuel you need to push past your doubts and rise to the occasion. Once you’ve developed this mindset, it’s easier to believe that your book, story, or idea is not only good enough but likely better than you ever expected.