Thoughts We Think
Featuring Jane Porter
Iím normally a very positive person, but I had a bit of the blues
this past weekend, and didnít understand why until I woke up this
morning dreading that it was Monday. Not because itís Monday, but
because I had to write.
Ah, yes. Fear and dread, close companions of the working writer.
We fear rejection. We fear failing. We fear the hard work itself.
These feelings certainly arenít new to me, as Iíve been writing for
over twenty years, and have been published for nine of them. In the
twenty years Iíve been writing seriously, Iíve produced thirteen
novels that never sold (and never will), and have sold and seen
published thirty novels. And not one of those books was an easy
book. Not one came together without effort and struggle, but in
writing thirty books Iíve learned how nasty and destructive fear and
dread can be on the writing process.
Four years into being a published author, I began to suffer so much
anxiety that it nearly took over my life. I was afraid I was
writing the book that wouldnít work. Afraid that I couldnít find
the ending. Afraid that I couldnít handle the stress. Afraid,
afraid, afraid. And guess what? The fear only made the writing
harder and the anxiety worse.
Realizing I was about to self-destruct, I did two good things: I
hit the gym to physically toughen up (thereís such a strong
correlation between physical fitness and mental fitness), and I
aggressively worked on my negative thought process. Because thatís
what it wasónegative.
After six months of hardcore exercising I began to hear some of
those negative whispers (canít, canít, canít, wonít, wonít, wonít),
and whenever I heard them, I changed them to can, can, can, will,
will, will. Then I took it one step further. I beat the negatives
to the punch by flooding my brain with positivesóthis is going to be
a great writing day! Youíre going to have so much fun creating
today! My brain is so amazing, it can figure anything out!
Those little mantras sound corny, but if you repeat them often
enough your brain begins to believe them. Your body believes them.
And your writing muse believes them, too.
Move forward another five years, and Iím astonished by the new me,
the one that embraces challenge and seeks change and
welcomes hard work. This me really, truly believes that I can do
anything and handle anything. I just have to try.
I was asked recently in an interview at what point I know a book
isnít working, and do I ever give up on a book? I thought about it
for a moment and realized, no. I believe every book can work.
Since first getting published I havenít given up on a book. Iíve
sometimes set a manuscript aside while I mull it over some more, but
Iíve never abandoned a book once I started it. I donít need to. My
brain can figure out how to make every book work. My clever little
mind can tackle motivation, character, plot, pacing problems and
help me come up with solutions. Thatís why I have a mind. To help
me solve problems. Not to create problems.
Now itís Monday, and Iím excited about it being the first day of a
new week and the start of a great writing week. Iím no longer blue
or dreading whatís before me because I know I can do it, and I know
once I start writing, Iím reinforcing what my brain believesóIím a
good writer and I enjoy writingóand thereís no room for fear or
dread in my life or in the writing process.
For those of us that write, we have to understand that the best way
to beat the fear and dread is to understand whatís behind the
negative voices, and then to actively address the voices. If youíre
feeling fear and dread because youíre procrastinating, then stop
procrastinating and jump in there. Get to work!
If you fear not being able to succeed, remind yourself that thereís
nothing you canít do, if you give yourself permission to succeed,
and if you give yourself time to succeed. We donít become
successful overnight, but we do get there thought by thought, choice
by choice, book by book.
If you dread the hard work, know that it gets easier by doing it.
Action, not reaction. Beat the negative thoughts to the punch and
flood yourself with positives. You are immensely talented, and you
have a great mind.
Our thoughts do determine our future, and the thoughts we think will
help us or hinder us depending on what we think. One of my favorite
quotes is from Buddha: ďAll that we are is the result of what we
have thought. What we think we become.Ē
So letís feed ourselves only the best, most encouraging and
empowering thoughts. Letís stomp out fear and dread and enjoy being
hopeful, optimistic, and creative people. The writing life is a
wonderful one. Itís a powerful one, too.
Jane Porterís July 2006 release, Flirting With Forty (5 Spot), was
picked by Redbook Magazine as its Red Hot Summer Read before being
optioned as a Lifetime Christmas 2008 TV movie. Jane's newest novel,
Mrs. Perfect, (May 2008, 5 Spot) has also received tremendous
acclaim from her readers. www.janeporter.com