Friday, June 03, 2011

What Makes You Succeed?

I read a blog post recently about identifying what gets in the way of a writer's creativity. While it's good to recognize what defeats you, and the writer did a nice job on the list, I caught myself thinking negatively. Let's flip this missive upside down.

What makes you succeed?

I hear the collective moan. You feel you haven't succeeded, or succeeded well enough to post anything on a resume. However, I bet you know what makes you sing, fly high, soar in the clouds. Just like you know obstacles and bad habits that interfere with your writing effort, why not recognize the traits that make you happy telling stories?

What makes you happy in your writing?

1. A thank-you.
Whether your mother or a stranger, a reader who appreciates your words shoots you to a high that lasts for days. Write with the idea that someone will read your words, maybe hang on them, taking them to heart. Alone in your room, pecking away on a keyboard, envision somebody out there waiting for you to finish, polish and deliver a piece that connects.

2. Accolades.
Praise from peers, readers, agents or publishers always works. Even in a rejection letter, watch for the positive remark, the atta-boy that makes you want to keep at it until it sells. Blog posts count, too. Can't wait to find out if someone likes your novel-length work? Post online. Sell magazine features. Nobody writes forever in a vacuum. Sooner or later you come up for air in hope that someone appreciates why you were down there so long.

3. Defying writers block.
Ignoring writers block by not recognizing its ability to paralyze you is empowering. When I feel blocked, I write more. Block all gone. Period.

4. Tantalizing ideas.
Focus on the good ideas and quickly toss aside the ho-hum ones. Don't be afraid to kill mediocrity and hold out for excellence. When you see it more readily than the junk, you jettison your writing to another level . . . on a consistent basis.

5. Solitude / Companionship
I put both in here because one person's love of solitude might be another's fear. One person's desire for social interaction might be another person's osbtacle. I love the solitude. While I enjoy people, solitude makes me a better writer. So I embrace it, make sure I get it, schedule it like I would eating and sleeping. On the other hand, if you crave companionship to thrive, schedule networking into your day, making sure it's rejuvenating and worthwhile for your career, not chatter, gossip, or rants. Regardless of which one keeps you alive, put a timer on it. Too much solitude steals you from stimuli; too much people contact steals your writing time.

6. Acceptance
Instead of fearing rejection, love acceptance. Thinking from a more positive angle puts more drive into your writing, propelling you toward more and more submissions. Like Pavlov's dog. The more reward you receive for successful behavior, the more you want to perform.

7. Your strong point.
Write long enough to figure out your niche, and what you write best. When times are rough on you, pull out your secret weapon and write what makes you shine.

Instead of thinking what cramps your style, define what makes you strut.

(Writer's name of the blog post that prompted this article was omitted so this message didn't appear to be a critique of her work. After all, this is about positivity.)


Cheryl Barker said...

Hope, I love this approach! In so many other areas of life, we're encouraged to concentrate on the positive rather than the negative so why not with our writing, huh? Makes perfect sense. Thanks for the positive kick in the pants! :)

Sarah Tokeley said...

This is a great post and I adore the picture you used to illustrate it! Those girls look so happy :)

Hope Clark said...

I liked that pic, too. We ought to cut loose more like that, don't you think?

Diva Jefferson said...

Another wonderful post, Hope. Such a positive flow of energy into all our writing hands. I love it. :)

Karen Lange said...

Love these points. I think I thrive on the same or similar, and know that they are a catalyst to move ahead as well. As for solitude or not, I prefer solitude, with sprinklings of interaction. :)

One thing that always thrills, cheers, and motivates me is seeing these three words after an article:
"By Karen Lange". I've promised my family that I won't get the big head. :)

Thanks again, Hope, you always encourage and/or challenge me!

BECKY said...

Wonderful advice, Hope! And hey, I act silly and dance around the house all the time! And sometimes even in public...but I tone it down a bit for that! :D