Just the other day, I saw a Tweet from a fellow writer who wanted to know if anyone else “talk to themselves,” by leaving themselves little notes in their manuscripts. Sure! Doesn’t everyone? I leave myself all kinds of notes. INCLUDE A BRILLIANT TRANSITION. BREATHTAKING SUMMARY GOES HERE. LOOK UP DATES. INCLUDE METRIC. My notes to myself are general instructional. I was ready to respond, but then I saw what he writes to himself. I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw something about cutting off your fingers if you can’t write better than this.
I was floored.
I do realize that humor doesn’t always come across well in social media. And maybe he was trying to be funny. Maybe. Either way, the tone rocked me back.
Then I saw this quote. My friend Lill Pluta and I take turns making memes to post on social media. We’ve been doing this for about 8 years because we are concerned about the amount of negativity that people put into the world.
This quote took me back to that Twitter thread. Yes, we all get frustrated when the words don’t come or the words that do come are awkward and clunky. It happens and we generally don’t like it.
When this happens, does it help to include negative self-talk in the manuscript? “Get it right! Seriously, get a day job if you can’t write better than this!”
Or is it more beneficial to give yourself a pep talk? When ever I get a kind e-mail from a reader, I drop it into my “nice letters” folder. That way they are all gathered in one place when I need a boost. I can page through letters where the writer tells me that I put into words a feeling they’ve been having about their work. Maybe I’ll find the one where a friend’s daughter used my book as the core for her “we should get a dog argument.” It didn’t work but I love that my words formed the basis of her case.
Sometimes I go back and read something that I’ve written that I especially like. As I explore the scene, I’m pulled into the setting and the mood. There are chills and ominous notes and it works. “Not bad, self!”
I’m not going to say that you always have to be upbeat and positive. But I do think that cheering yourself on is going to have much better results than anything negative. Hold up your potential, not your problems.