“I’m not good enough to be a writer.” “Why would anyone publish my work?” “This is such crap!”
Every writer goes through this at various points of his or her writing career. Negative thinking has a way of creeping up slowly until it all piles up on top of you and keeps you from your writing goals. How do I know this? Because I’m going through it right now.
I barely write anything these days because of various life stressors (single parenting, work, finances, etc). Not to mention that the stress of my day job has been keeping me up at night with crazy dreams.
All of these stressors get me thinking negatively about myself, my abilities, and my writing. I doubt myself in all sorts of ways, which is the trick to negative thinking. It starts with one mistake on your part and can snowball out of control with negative thoughts coming at you on all sides.
A trick I’ve come up with to combat negative thinking is a pros and cons list. Most of the time my list is a tool to help me make informed decisions. In the case of reducing negative thinking, the list can be used to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are.
Take one sheet of paper and write “Pros” at the top. Then take another sheet and write “Cons” at the top. Start with the Cons list first. Yes, put all those nasty, ugly downright dirty thoughts about why you shouldn’t be a writer. These should be easy for you to come up with if you have trouble with negative thinking.
By writing down all of the negative thoughts, you get the junk out of your brain and onto a piece of paper. Then the negativity doesn’t seem quite so big and you can truly evaluate everything that has been keeping you from writing.
After getting on paper every single thing you think is wrong with your writing down on paper, make a list of all of the pros. If you’re not sure of the reasons why you should be a writer, look up old papers, emails or anything else that compliments your writing.
It could have been from your high school English teacher or your co-worker (the one who gets excited when you tell him/her that you’ve written something) or even your own child who says that you write the best stories. Start with these and then add your own pros to the list. Pretty soon you’ll find that you have more reason to write than not to.
And if that doesn’t work, take the cons list and rip it to shreds. As a therapeutic way of getting rid of the negative junk in our own minds, ripping something up connects us to the act of shedding the negativity. And if your cons list keeps bugging you, write it again and burn it in a glass/metal bowl. You’ll be sending the message to yourself that you should be a writer AND get rid of all those negative thoughts! Happy Writing!
Heiddi Zalamar is a mom/writer/therapist living and working in NYC and is the founder of The Freshman Writer.