With two mystery series and a huge newsletter following, my writing career often places me in the role of teacher, speaker, and advisor. Inevitably, I’m asked how I find the time to write, market, and manage the business. It’s difficult to instill my sense of “because I feel I have to” into people. Or when I tell them that I’ve made the choice to make writing a priority in my life, they still look at me with the unasked question, “but how do you do it?” So this is the first lesson I teach them.
Get rid of the following words in your vocabulary:
When asked if you are a writer, chances are you’ll use one of these words in your reply. The answer spills out with a qualifier or, as I call them, an excuse word. The correct answer to the question asked of me is “I am a writer, therefore, I make time to write.” You decide to become a writer.
You aren’t JUST someone who writes sometimes.
You aren’t a writer, BUT you don’t do it as often as you need to.
You ONLY write when the muse visits.
You write IF you find the time.
Those four words dilute the sentence, dilute your response, dilute your image in the eye of the other person, and dilute your view of yourself as that writer. Those words diminish and tear down instead of build, which is not the attitude you want. If you aren’t sure of yourself, nobody else will be either. To start this morphological process, delete these four words from your vocabulary. They’re not even good words to use in a story. Excise them from your word toolbox for the time being.
Attitude is half the battle in making a life change, and taking writing seriously is a life change. As time consuming and as deeply spiritual as writing can be, you must redefine your day, your hours, and your focus, making this craft a serious part of your existence.
Nobody wants to read a writer who doesn’t hone his craft, pour his soul into his craft, or strive to make his craft what readers want to experience. No writer can come to the table with half his heart and expect a full-bodied story to emerge. If you embrace your writing journey, you find you don’t even need these words to describe what you do, and when you hear yourself speaking confidently, you begin to believe it.
You write tight to create the best stories. Think and speak tightly as well. When asked, “Do you write?” reply, “Yes, I do. I write mystery.” Short, precise, assured. When asked how do you find the time to write, say, “I find time to do what I love doing.” We call this empowerment.
Discounting yourself mentally and orally, allowing yourself to fall into the ruts of BUT, ONLY, JUST, and IF, is like someone complimenting me, yet I respond with, “I really didn’t do anything.” Did you know it’s more mannerly to respond, “Thank you very much.”? Otherwise, you discount their compliment.
My latest release, Echoes of Edisto, came out last week. At the book signing and a wedding I attended the next day, people congratulated me . . . and I thanked them simply, without discounting it was a good and great accomplishment with excuse words. In doing so I also appreciated them.
Practicing this positive outlook takes effort, but is quite doable.
- Keep a journal. Edit the entry seeking the negative, disclaimed, or excuse words.
- Listen to others. Try to hear positive versus negative language and image how the positive could work by changing a few words.
- Monitor yourself. When speaking, catch yourself, even correct yourself. Others will be intrigued at what you are doing, maybe adopting the practice themselves.
The results can reach wider than you imagine.
- You empower yourself. You talk yourself into being positive with your efforts.
- You empower others. Yes, your confidence makes them want to be more like you.
- You brighten the day. A positive person brightens a negative person’s day. Hearing positive phrasing has been known to reduce depression.
Inserting positive words and extracting the negative is good for everyone, but to writers, whose world is wrought with rejection, critiques, and one-star reviews, exchanging some words for others mentally strengthens them to tackle stories, submissions, and marketing. Training the mind to think of moving-forward words, instead of excuse words, can turn them from wannabes to published authors.
Hope Clark has written six novels in two series, with her latest being Echoes of Edisto, the third in the Edisto Island Mysteries. Mystery continues to excite her as both reader and writer, and she hopes to continue as both for years to come. Hope is also founder of FundsforWriters, chosen by Writer’s Digest Magazine for its 101 Best Websites for Writers. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com