Your mindset is everything
I’m fresh off a week of the Bout of Books read-a-thon, and if you ever need a lesson in how people talk about their goals and progress, following the #boutofbooks hashtag on Twitter is enough to see that people are incredibly negative and self-judging.
“I’m totally failing!” and “OMG, I had to work/go to school/etc and I don’t have time to read and I’m failing!” and “I haven’t read as much as I wanted to. I’m so behind!”
And no matter how many times we try to send out the message that a) if you’re reading, you’ve won and b) if real life intrudes, that’s okay, people invariably find fault with themselves over their perceived lack of progress.
Writers do it too, by focusing on everything they’re not accomplishing. “I wanted to write, X number of words, but I only wrote less-than-X words” or “I was supposed to edit X number of pages, but I only edited less-than-X pages.” Which is almost always followed by, “And now I’m so behind!”
When you focus on what you’re not accomplishing, you only see your “failures” and not what you’ve already accomplished
To that I say, “Stop.” You set your goals. You have the power to change them—to adjust them to fit your life, not fit your life to your goals. You have a choice:
1. Beat yourself up over not accomplishing your goals and self-judge yourself to be wanting and a disappointment and a failure
2. Acknowledge that not everything goes according to plan, accept it, and look to tomorrow (or next week) to do better.
Here’s the truth:
If you put out negative, self-chastising thoughts, you’ll continually “fail” and find yourself lacking. If you put out positive thoughts, the world will find a way to provide what you need. And not for any woo-woo reason, either.
A negative mind finds all that’s wrong and ignores the good; a positive mind acknowledges the bad, but focuses on the good and what comes next
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you focus on what you’re not accomplishing, you’ll always find failure. And the more you find failure, the deeper you’ll sink into the failure mindset.
For people who naturally gravitate to the negative *raises hand*, this is one the hardest lessons to learn—that you, and ONLY YOU, determine your success or failure. It’s not time or writer’s block or lack of motivation—it’s you and how you talk about your writing.
Here’s a bookish example: many readers during Bout of Books said they had a “bad reading day.” And I’ll be honest: those days happen to me all the time—I mean to read, but something else comes up or I get distracted and I don’t read as much as I intended (if at all).
But rather than calling it a bad reading day, I simply shrug and make a point to read more tomorrow. Getting upset isn’t going to give me time to read. It’s not going to rewind the clock so I can get off social media to read. It’s not going to magically change my reading habits to allow me to read more, faster.
Getting upset will, however, depress me. And you know what happens when I get depressed? I don’t want to read. And when I don’t want to read, I read less, and suddenly I’m in a negative spiral of my own making.
Because getting upset—or resolving to do better next time—is a choice: YOUR choice
How you talk about your writing is your choice. You can choose to focus on what you haven’t accomplished. Or you can choose to shrug and whatever’s not going “right” and resolve to do better the next day. Only one of those choices puts you in a positive head space.