Thursday, March 27, 2008

Desire and Positive Reinforcements

Do you know what one of the advantages of hosting the Friday edition of the Blog-O-Rama is? I get to see what everyone else wrote about during the week. Yeah, I know it is kind of cheap, but I do get to see what the others are writing about and if something strikes me while reading the other posts, then I can ponder on it for a while. Sometimes my mind really takes hold of something that one of the others has written and I can’t let it go. Kind of like an old dog gnawing on a bone—just try to take it from him.

Earlier this week Erik Smetana brought up a friend of ours laying down the pen and pursuing other avenues. That friend has taken an editorial position with a respected publication and his time is going to be put to good use—and probably some abuse as well.

But, it’s a good move for him and he will learn a lot about the other side of the business and when he is ready to come back to writing, then he’ll be better equipped with the knowledge of what editors are looking for. That is gold in this business.

Now the question comes to mind and I think it is something we have all pondered at one time or other. Erik asked it in his post.

As he asked: Was I cut out to be a writer? Did I have what it takes to achieve some semblance of success? What would finally constitute success for me? Would I ever be able to realistically turn my avocation into my occupation? Am I choosing my writing projects wisely? Am I taking on too much? Not enough?

Come on, be honest with me, now. How many of you out there have thought this about your writing, or about anything in general in life? Come on, a show of hands. Be honest. Nobody? Wow. You mean I am alone on this?

Well, I would have never thought that, but it is what it is, right?

I have come to realize there is one thing about life, not just writing, that can help improve your chances of being successful. Do you want to know what it is? Really? You do? Sweeeettt.

Okay, it is simple. How many times have you heard someone say something like:

Oh, he’ll never amount to anything.
I’m fat.
I can’t do that.
I’ll never be good at that.
You suck at that.

Do you notice a theme here? They are all negative comments. If someone is told enough times they won’t amount to anything there is a good chance that is going to happen. If you tell yourself you are fat all the time there is a good chance you’re going to eat more, work out less and get bigger. If you say you can’t do something enough, guess what? You won’t be able to do it. If you say you’ll never be good at something then you are right—you never will be good at it because you won’t try as hard to succeed. If someone tells you that you suck enough, you’ll start believing it.

It’s those negative statements that are part of the problem—a significant part of the problem. Now, think about the opposite type of statements, those that encourage, that don’t tear a person down.

I can do this.
I want to learn how to do this.
There’s nothing I can’t do if I try hard enough.
I don’t suck, I’m just not there yet.
I’m not fat, I’m just big boned.

Okay, the last one is a Cartman reference and I should be ashamed of myself for that, but you get the idea. If you tell yourself you can’t do something then you won’t be able to. But, if you tell yourself you can do it then your effort changes, your mindset changes, your attitude changes. And it is that attitude that goes with you and helps drive you to be better.

I can write. I tell myself these three words every day. It’s true, whether I write good or bad is inconsequential. I can write.

I can get better. Again, a true statement. I think you can get better at anything you do with a little bit of luck, some hard work and a solid belief in yourself.

I want to learn how to be a better writer. Another truth. This is one of my primary goals.

My mindset is on the positive, not the negative. It is that mindset that I think—I know—will eventually help me be successful at whatever I choose to take on. I choose writing and one of these days you’ll know who I am. And, no, that is not arrogance. That is confidence.

Am I there yet? No. Not close. But I will be.

I asked three questions in response to Erik’s post. Those three questions I ask myself on a regular basis. Think about them as I asks them and then answer them.

Do I enjoy writing? Yes. Emphatically, YES.

What do I get from it? The satisfaction of completing something from beginning to end by pouring myself into it and working on it until I reach the conclusion I want. Sometimes I get published. Sometimes people like my stories. Sometimes I get paid. Sometimes I don't get any of these.

If I never get published or become 'successful' will I still be happy doing it? That is easy for me: Yes. I love to write. It is like air to me. It is my addiction (other than my wife). I can’t go more than a couple of days without writing and stay in a good mood. I get cranky when I am not penning something. My family doesn’t like me when I don’t write. Writing is as much a part of me as my skin is.

And, when I write I have that positive mindset that I will succeed at it. It does make a difference.

Back to our friend who announced he is putting down the pen. I think he is doing the best thing for him. I think his attitude toward it is the right one. I also think he’ll be back to writing one day. For now, though, I think he chose the right path. His attitude could make him successful at it.

I’m AJ and I’m out.

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