When asked if you’re a writer, do you use excuse words to hold yourself down, or do you use positive language and build yourself up?
With multiple books published and a large newsletter following, my writing career often lands me in mentoring roles as a teacher, speaker, or advisor. A common question, wherever I go, is “How do you find the time to write, market, and manage your business?” It’s difficult to instill my sense of, “Because I feel I have to,” as writing is the path I’ve chosen to pursue.
When I tell people I’ve made the choice to make writing a priority in my life, they’re still looking for the answer to, “But how do you do that?” Here is the first lesson I teach them.
Get rid of the following words in your vocabulary:
Be honest. When asked if you are a writer, do you use one of these words in your reply? Do you use positive language, or does the answer spill out with a qualifier or an excuse word (as I call them)? The correct answer to the question ought to be, “I am a writer, therefore, I make time to write.” You decide to become a writer.
You aren’t someone “who just writes sometimes.”
You aren’t a part-time writer, but you “don’t do it as often as you’d like to.”
You don’t “only write when the muse visits.”
You can’t just write “if you find the time.”
Those four words dilute your response, dilute what you do in the eyes of the other person, and dilute your own view of yourself as a writer. Those words do not build, they diminish and tear down, and that is not the attitude you want. If you aren’t sure of yourself, nobody else will be.
If you want to become a writer, delete these four words from your vocabulary. Excise them from your word toolbox – they’re not even good words to use in a story.
Attitude is half the battle in making a life change, and I speak from experience when I say taking writing seriously is a life change. Writing is time-consuming and deeply spiritual, and you must redefine your day and your focus to make this endeavor a serious part of your existence.
Nobody wants to read a writer who doesn’t hone his craft, pour her soul into her work, or strive to make their writing something 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 need these words to describe what you do. When you hear yourself speaking confidently, you begin to believe it; when you use positive language, you exude a positive attitude.
Tight writing produces the best stories, so think and speak tightly as well. When someone asks, “Are you a writer?” I reply, “Yes, I am. I write mystery.” Short, precise, assured. When asked “How do you find the time to write?” I say, “I make time to do what I love doing.” I call this empowerment.
Discounting yourself, mentally and verbally, by using excuse words like but, only, just, and if is like receiving a compliment and responding with, “I really didn’t do anything.” It’s more mannerly to respond, “Thank you very much.” Otherwise, you discount the compliment.
My latest release, Echoes of Edisto, came out a few months ago. At the book signing and a wedding I attended the next day, people congratulated me, and I thanked them simply, without discounting the accomplishment with excuse words. In doing so, I honored and appreciated them.
Practicing this positive outlook takes effort, but is quite doable. Some proactive things you can do include:
- Keep a journal. Edit your entries seeking the negative, disclaimer, or excuse words.
- Listen to others. Listen for positive versus negative language and imagine how the positive works simply by changing a few words.
- Monitor yourself. When speaking, catch yourself – and 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. Your confidence makes people 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 a good idea for anyone, but for writers, whose world is wrought with rejection, critiques, and one-star reviews, removing the negative and exchanging it with positive language mentally strengthens you to write your stories, make those submissions, and spend time marketing. Training your mind to think of forward-moving words, instead of excuse words, can help turn you from a wanna-be into a published author.
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