Do you have one? Our attitude is one of the few things in life that is completely under our own control. Having control of it means that your attitude doesn’t have control of you. This is much easier said than done. I work at it. When you slip – and we all do, get up, dust yourself off and get going again.
Your approach to life, work and everything helps determine whether you win or lose. Life has challenges. It is part of being alive. If you are aware of that and approach life with the ability to cope you’ll get things done. Having a positive attitude helps you overcome those challenges.
And definitely do not whine. Don’t be the whiner, you drag everyone down. Especially yourself. If you have a positive attitude you won’t whine. Simple, right?
Now, I wish I was this self-motivated to begin with. I’m not. I found this on one of those random browsing events where I came across David B. Rutherford. He has several series of trainings one of which being self-confidence, (others include life missions, leadership, and living the team life – yes, he is a team guy. His site changed recently, so his YouTube channel is the easiest way I have found to access the videos by topic.) This is Mission 1: Have a Positive Attitude. I’ve gone through all 8 self-confidence missions, but I keep coming back to this one. It resonates with me. I must still have something to learn from it. I’ll go through the others too at some point.
In the meantime, be positive, set your sights high, chase and achieve your goals. Write on.
Just do something, even if it is wrong. The point about having goals is to actually have something to shoot for. If you don’t start you can’t get there. I’m having this issue myself today.
Some days it is really hard just to find the motivation. You don’t feel in top condition. You don’t have the right tools. Your laptop blew up or you can’t find the power cord. Your favorite notebook got dropped in the dishwater. Your dog ate your pen. It doesn’t matter what it is, there is something that is holding you back from achieving your goals.
But there is a cure for all of that: start. Big projects are not completed in a day. Climbing mountains takes planning and training. Building bridges takes a plan and lots of engineering and assembly. Olympic sprinters and swimmers train most of their lives for a less than 1 minute performance at the right time. You (or most of us anyway) cannot possibly write a novel in a weekend. Even my author friend, the hare, can’t. Yes, she wrote the book in a weekend, after months of planning. It didn’t happen all at once except the final tie up of the project. She knew where she was going. She made the plan and worked it. At that point all the hard decisions were made and she just had to write it up. Where did she succeed? In the starting up every time she had writing time. Did she add to the plan every time she sat down? That I cannot tell you, but given human nature she might have had an off day or two, where whatever she seemed to write may have seemed ok or not, but it wasn’t her best. She kept doing it. She worked and didn’t let the end goal of the story down. She started.
That is what we need to do to succeed. Start. Life’s journey is a bunch of starts. You choose where to spend your time. I just spent more than an hour of my precious writing time not writing. Did I let it derail me? No, I’m going to take the time I have left and write. The next time I have more writing time I’m going to start again.
Will Smith says there is a difference in talent and skill. (1:42 – 2:02, actually the first 5 minutes.) Talent is something you have naturally. Skill is something you develop by spending hours and hours and hours beating on your craft. I may not like his work or a specific project of his, but the man has a vision of what he is and where he is going. He works and he works hard. I can learn from that. Go beat on your craft.
Start. Restart. Write on.
An author acquaintance of mine likes to think she’s a tortoise. She plans. She works up a schedule being meticulous about deadlines and word counts per day. Then she writes the book in a weekend. She’s a hare. I love watching it happen, but I cannot do it myself. Do I envy the hare in her? Sometimes, I must admit. She makes it look sooo easy. And let me tell you: it’s not. She works her tail off. But it works for her.
What did I learn from her? I needed a plan. My writing was erratic. I would write in a spurt here or a spurt there. I waited for inspiration to strike. Little did I realize was that with my personality, if I sit down to work the inspiration comes. I need to just give it time to get out. By setting up a plan and keeping to it, I’ll get there. Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t set up finish lines. You bet I do. Once I set that milestone I paste it up everywhere to remind me (and my subconscious) that the next stage is coming. Right now I’m planning. Next is writing. I’ll have a word count and goal for that too. Editing and submission are in there as well, but they don’t take as long for me as the others. Then we start over again with planning.
So regardless of how you write and what type of writer you are, tortoise or hare, (outliner or pantser if you go for that terminology,) the whole idea is to actually do the work. It doesn’t really matter how it gets done as long as it works for you. Write on, friends.
Yes, I live in northern Colorado. All around me are rivers that have overflowed the normal capacities. And yes, the news is all about the waters. I am up, dry (relatively) as water flows downhill, and have food and shelter. I’m lucky. All of this goes into the idea folder for if I ever need to write about natural disasters and whatnot. I’m not planning on writing about the flood.
But the things that have gone on around here have made me acutely aware of the specificity of word choice. Granted, the talking heads on the TV generally do not write their own copy. It is handed to them after cursory editing to get it on the air before anyone else does. I get that. The minutiae a lot of times gets overlooked in the rush. But it can be important.
For example: water is EROSIVE, not generally CORROSIVE. In certain cases, water can be corrosive especially with lead and time. Rust is the result. However when you’re talking about a flood, the water is eroding the substructure of the road/bridge/railroad/building etc. The water is taking the substance away, breaking it up, changing state (dirt to mud, snow to water, for examples) rather than actually changing its nature by a chemical reaction (iron to rust). Mud is much less stable than dirt. The river therefore eroded the support under the road and washed it away.
The term 100 year flood is another specific example. There is a 1% probability of a flood of this magnitude happening each year. Where people get confused is that they say it is a 100 year flood. No, it’s just a possibility of 1 chance in 100 of it happening each year. It could happen again next year and then not again for 1000 years, we still have the same 1% chance. 1 chance in 100 does not mean that it only happens once every 100 years.
Now does this really matter amidst all the destruction and suffering going on due to these floods? No, not really. But as a writer, when you go back and edit what you’ve written make sure that the words you’ve chosen mean what you really intend them to mean. Write on.
First word. First phrase. First sentence. First beat. First paragraph. First page. First scene. First chapter. First turning point. First act. First draft. First rewrite. First submission. First rejection. First acceptance. First revision. First galley. First book. First review. First day of the rest of your writing career.
Make today a day of firsts. Whether it is your first story or not, it can be a day of firsts if you choose. Write on.
*Side note: did you ever have the issue where you know a word is written correctly but it looks funny or sounds so funny when you read it that you question yourself and have to look it up in the dictionary??