Writers Almanac "A"
Stop Blogging me! A lesson on Attitude for writers…
As a professional writer, I face times where I don’t want to write, am under pressure to write something quickly and other times I must write to pay the bills. Sometimes, all three of these scenarios are as one and I am stuck with no motivation, a lot of stress, doubt, and worry. What do a lack of inspiration, pressure, doubt, and worry all have in common? They are all manifestations of our Attitude.
Procrastination is a funny thing. The more you allow yourself to put something off that you need to do the harder it seems to accomplish and the bigger the task grows in your mind. The task is then even less appealing to want to do. Someone once told me that if I wanted to really shine, always do what you don’t want to do first. What is so genius about applying this concept to our work as writers is that the untold law of motivation kicks in when we tackle writing our chapters, articles or blogs, which says ‘motivation comes after you begin’.
Writing is a creative art form and like other art forms, if you don’t just allow the creative juices to flow then that’s when your mind says I don’t want to do it… I don’t care if the deadlines are today, and I don’t need the money that bad. All these messages we say to ourselves are screaming BAD ATTITUDE.
"The only thing a poor attitude has ever improved for anyone is the likelihood of experiencing regret" (Blumberg, 2016)
Therefore, since disappointment is not a favorable option for the ingenious writer types, what are the experts at Harvard University recommending on how to improve our attitudes:
“First, savor pleasure. Feeling pleasure helps sustain a positive attitude. Focus your attention on something pleasing as it occurs, consciously enjoying the experience as it unfolds...Second practice gratitude… Try keeping a gratitude journal, in which you regularly write down things for which you are grateful. Doing so will help you go through your days with greater appreciation, taking fewer blessings for granted…
Third, Cultivate mindfulness. While savoring involves appreciating pleasurable sensations, mindfulness involves opening fully to both pleasant and unpleasant experiences. Being mindful helps you become fully engaged in activities and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events…Lastly, follow a regular sleep schedule, get enough exercise, eat healthy meals, and stay in touch with friends and family” (Merz, 2017).
Harvard makes an important point in that ultimately, we are responsible for our attitudes. By accepting that we can improve our attitudes to manage our responsibilities with less procrastination is key. So, when you are in a huff might I suggest you do as I do. I make light of the situation. By this I mean- really make light of it. When we are resisting something we are responsible for, we are just fighting ourselves unnecessarily. This is often the sign of a need to blow off steam.
What I do is take a few moments to imagine a far worse situation than the one I am challenged to work through. This could be called a form of visualization; however not in the classic sense because those are usually encouraging. Yet, this type of visualizing is positive because it purposefully puts your mind in a negative state evoking unwanted emotions. Somehow, this technique is like having your finger on a mental pressure valve that releases resistance and resets your mind by allowing a period of worry to invade your head.
For what it is worth, which is a lot, the next time you are stuck, assess your attitude and reset your mind. Like the well-respected William James, known as the ‘Father of American Psychology’ said:
“It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome”
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Sonia Blumberg is a writer in California
Sunset by Tim Green licensed by CC by 2.0
Quote by Maya Angelou