Saturday, April 10, 2010

Self Talk

One of the things I've noticed I do a lot of is talk smack about my writing. Rarely do you ever hear me say I'm happy with the way the story is going.  I have an ongoing conversation in my head when I'm writing that usually involves the word "crap." No wonder I get to the point where facing the MS becomes a downer rather than a joy. Where does that come from? Whose voice am I internalizing?

 I don't remember my parents being overly critical. They had high expectations of my behavior and school work but I was never punished or spoken to in a harsh manner when I didn't achieve something. They mostly  taught by example. I have a suspicion that it might have been the nuns at the Catholic school I attended for seven years. Now, they were hard to please. God had high expectations and I internalized all of them. Perhaps its one of the reasons I can't forgive the Catholic Church today for the sex scandal and am no longer a Catholic. Or maybe it's the way they treat women and I have daughters - or their behavior in Rawanda - or ... well, that's a post for another day and another blog.

Back to the issue at hand. Negative Self-talk makes it feel like the mountain is too steep to climb. How in the world can I write a sellable book with all these discouraging, criticial, doubting voices in my head? I would never talk to my children like that. I believe in encouragement, support, positive messages. When they have a problem I brainstorm ways to solve the problem. I try to empower them to create their own lives the way they want them. To make smart decisions that reflect self-respect.

I have some health challenges that I've lived with for a long time. One of the coping mechanisms I use is to never give voice to the pain or illness. I've discovered that if I don't tell everyone how sick I am or how bad I feel, that I feel better. Moaning and whining and giving "voice" to it makes it worse. Brings it to the forefront of my consciousness and I start using it as an excuse to not do things and I dwell on it making it a bigger mountain to climb than it needs to be. Not acknowledging it really works. I know that's hard to believe but its an amazing and surprisingly easy coping tool.

So, I was thinking, what if I used the same technique for my writing?

What if I didn't give voice to the writing demons? the inner critic? What if, everytime I talked about my writing I stressed how well it was going? What if I focused on what was good? I love my characters. They are smart and witty and clever. Just like I visualized them to be. And my hero is HOT because I wrote him that way and it works. My sex scenes are amazing. Wow. I do a lot of things right.

So, my project this week is to not talk smack about my writing and to only speak well of it. Make myself believe.

12 comments:

Janet said...

Let me know how you do - I need help with the negative talk, too. We writers are a real negative bunch, aren't we. Never happy with characters, middles, conflicts, etc.

Rachael Johns said...

Good self-advice! This post resonated with me a LOT!! I might try be nicer to myself about my writing too :)

Kelly Boyce said...

Sounds like a good project for the week. I'm big on the self-fulfilling prophecies. If you think you write crap, you'll write crap. If you think what you write is golden, it will be.

Anne MacFarlane said...

Janet, today I started with an affirmation.

"I have unlimited creativity. Writing is a source of joy and comfort to me."

Anne MacFarlane said...

Rachael, I hear a lot of writers talk negatively about their writing and their talents. So, I think we all should be our own cheerleaders.

Anne MacFarlane said...

Kelly, today my words are golden.

Janet said...

Love that affirmation, Anne. Is it an Anne original? Can I borrow it for my Wednesday's Inspiration post - with proper acknowledgements, of course?

Julia Smith said...

*applause*

Funny how you can encourage others to be positive but smack down your own efforts. I do that, myself - I hear myself give people pep talks, but I get discouraged, anyway. Not listening to myself, I guess.

And the security word for my comment is 'truisms'.

Anne MacFarlane said...

Janet, the affirmation is a combination/edit of a Suzanne Brockmann writing affirmation. I took two, cut some words and combined the rest for one that spoke to me.

Anne MacFarlane said...

And yes Janet you can borrow it.

Anne MacFarlane said...

Julia, sometimes we need to ask what we would say to our best friend - and then treat ourselves the way we would a best friend.

Michelle Helliwell said...

Anne - I wish I had read this earlier...great post, and I really hope you were able to wipe that negativity away. I'm all for a little critical self-reflection but being negative is just self-destructive. I think you just start to believe it after a while. Hope it works for you - from what I've seen, you've nothing to be negative about.

I am happy to be your personal cheerleader. Everyone should have one:)