Positive thinking is necessary if you ever hope to accomplish your goals*—whether your goal is something big like becoming a New York Times Bestselling author or something small like how many times you can use expletive construction without driving your editor insane. I know I’d never be able to eat half so many books or sit as many times on my boss if I did not vigilantly maintain my optimism.
Wait…is that a good thing?
How to Cultivate Writer Negativity
The number one way to produce positivity is simply to avoid pessimism. Profound right? Easy? No. What causes negativity? Here are a few of the activities that can inhibit positivity and open the door for negativity:
•Frequently looking at social media. Checking to see how few likes you received is a foolproof way to depression. If that fails, your news feed will be sure to cheer you up with the report of some disease, hurricane, or new law taxing you on many times you wash your dishes. To quote Sebastian from The Little Mermaid “The human world…it’s a mess.” The internet is where all that mess congregates to host an annual garbage dump—and its distracting garbage that will keep you from accomplishing anything except brain damage.
•Overthinking. Are you tired of writing freely? Are you itching to feel writer’s block hammering at your head? Then be sure to sit down and analyze yourself, your writing, and your ever-growing stash of unfinished books and you’ll be well on your way to nowhere.
•Comparing your work to someone else’s. When not in doubt, look up the most famous author you know and point out all the areas they excel in that you don’t (never mind the fact they’ve written thirty books and studied the craft for forty-five years—that has no bearing whatsoever on why they’re better than you when you’ve only written three books and studied for ten years). This technique will instantly stop you from bothering to write something when some else has said it better. While you’re at it, you might as well convince yourself to stop living since I’m sure someone else has lived a better life than you.
•Giving into your impulses. Stop all writing routines and only write when you feel like it. Go eat that candy bar, watch that movie, like those fifty Facebook posts—postponing your writing will uplift you for about ten minutes then you’ll start thinking about all the stuff you shouldn’t have done and that will make you feel like a failure and that will make you eat more chocolate and that will make you fat.
•Excessively listening to advice. Don’t know what to do? To further confuse yourself, read every writing craft book, article, and course. This will help you feel overwhelmed and make you question every element in your book even though you’re only on the first draft.
•Dwelling on your weaknesses. If all else has failed to put you in a sour disposition, try pondering your flaws. Think of every wrong scene, bad dialogue, and typo. Forget you can go back and fix it later—you can’t fix it now, so why fix it later?
•Only focusing on marketability. Forget about the book you’re writing and remember how few followers you have on your blog. If all of them buy your book, you’ll make a whopping thirty bucks! And then you’ll be a New York Times Low-selling author!
•Having too many goals. Anyone can write a book month, send out thirty queries, manage their blog, read ten books, and exercise an hour every day—and anyone can stare at a big list with a bunch of unchecked boxes and feel guilty.
How to Cultivate Writer Positivity
•Remember how far you’ve come. Instead of dwelling on your weaknesses, look at all the times you overcame those weaknesses. Sure, you may be a bad writer. But at least you aren’t as bad a writer as you were yesterday. And you won’t be as terrible of a writer tomorrow. And a bad writer that keeps improving won’t end up being so bad after all!
•Celebrate your triumphs. You finished a book—go celebrate! Who cares if it’s not published yet? A runner celebrates finishing the race, not just winning it.
•Look at the small picture. Big goals are great, but big goals are only completed by several small ones leading up to it. Stop thinking about all the things you must do and focus on writing the story one word at a time.
•Set up a schedule. Rigidly holding to schedules can make you weary. And rigidly not having a schedule can make you weary. Instead, make a general schedule that can be broken for emergencies, writer’s block, and Christmas. Sticking to a routine will help you complete more tasks, and that will help you feel accomplished.
•Take time to enjoy life. The best place to find inspiration is through living—through walking through a forest, laughing with friends, sitting on your boss—and if you pour all your time into writing about life instead of living it, you’re liable to lose your inspiration.
•Look ahead. You have some amazing dreams, so stop staring at the valleys behind! Keep reaching ahead, even when you’ve got short arms like me.
•Talk to your friends. You think your book is terrible. Your friends think you’re wonderful. So no matter how awful your book is, they’ll still love it, and that will inspire you to make it as wonderful as they think you are.
•Love the process. Writing is a gift. Take a moment to enjoy that gift yourself—don’t be ashamed to love your characters, the plot, or simply the sound of your fingers hitting the keyboard. If you let yourself love what you do, you’ll write even better stories.
•Write what you’re passionate about. If you write the story you love, you will spread love to the rest of the world.
•Remember you are human. You aren’t perfect. You’ll make mistakes. Everyone does. It’s human nature. Now if you were a dinosaur that’d be different, we are less stupid than you humans and make less mistakes. And when you’ve had a bad day and can’t seem to write anything, don’t beat yourself for being sad. You will have those times—you can’t help it. But remember: if you’re gonna be negative, you can at least be positive about it.
*That is, of course, if you have goals. If you do not have goals, you are most welcome to be as sour as you please.