"Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.” -Dale Carnegie
How do you stoke the flames of excitement as you pursue your writing goals? The truth is, we usually need to be our own cheerleaders, doing what we can to inspire and encourage ourselves. Here are seven simple ways to help yourself stay passionate and productive:
1. Celebrate everything. Whether you forced yourself to send out a query letter, finished a contest essay draft, or just got a decent blog post up, you can celebrate the accomplishment with some type of treat. Big achievements like finishing a book or a tough class may even deserve a party. "It's so common for us to quickly move from one project, goal, or task to the next without stopping to acknowledge what we've accomplished already," Cheryl Richardson points out in Life Makeovers. "We all need acknowledgement and reward, and the very best person to fulfill this need is you."
2. Create visual motivators. Inspire yourself by posting a meaningful writing quotation or affirmation in your work area, focusing on a different message every week or month. If you like to make collages or vision boards, do a writer-related page that you can look at from time to time. You can even make fake book covers, pretend resumes (for your eyes only), or an altered best-seller book list with your name inserted onto a real newspaper clipping. These fun techniques can move you toward making your dreams come true.
3. Tell people about your work. Why not add more supportive voices to go along with your self-cheering efforts? Notify a favorite relative, a few close friends, or some writing buddies of your latest byline or accomplishment. Definitely tell your writing group what you're up to—they'll understand. The approval you receive will stimulate good feelings about your writing life.
4. Review your portfolio. Every so often, pull out your list of writing credits and look it over. No matter how many completed works are on your list—three or three hundred—let yourself bask in the "Wow, I did that!" feeling. Reviewing what you've done reminds you of your capabilities, and makes you want to add even more items to the list.
5. Buy books and take classes. Allow yourself whatever resources keep you excited about writing. Buying a fun how-to book is an indulgence that pays dividends, prodding you to be creative and try new techniques. Taking a writing class is another way to ramp up your enthusiasm level—and it often includes a built-in support system of helpful classmates.
6. Collect positive feedback. Start gathering positive responses to your work, so that you have them available for future reading. For example, if you receive an appreciative e-mail from an editor or a writing instructor tells you that you did a good job, copy and paste the remarks into a Word document. You can even save complimentary blog comments from your readers. Whenever you take a look at the saved pages of kind words, you'll get a needed boost.
7. Write yourself a congratulatory letter. As a private journaling exercise, or even on a note card that you will actually send to yourself, write a letter of congratulations and encouragement. Focus on what you've done so far, the challenges you've faced, and the steps you’re taking to make good things happen. Since no one's probably saying these words to you now, it's up to you to go ahead and do it for yourself. Write as if you are talking to a good friend, offering motivating words that will inspire further greatness.
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!