It’s a beautiful Norfolk day as I sit here on my balcony writing this. Instead of sunbathing, typically I’m writing, well actually I’m doing both but one by default!
Today I want to share with you some of my methods to motivate and block out negative thoughts, mostly learned during lockdown. This is connected to writing but can be applied to most life situations.
Luckily I’ve never struggled much with motivation. If the idea of a story bites, I’m off, burning to write it. For me, that works with any idea, as soon as I think of something, I want to make it happen. But like many other writers, I do sometimes struggle with self belief or a need to organise myself or I have to stop myself avoiding the jobs I hate.
When the COVID 19 pandemic hit last year, it came as a blessing in disguise. Suddenly I found myself getting up early, doing yoga, learning to meditate, finding out how to do simple coding, completing a cycle challenge for charity and writing a book of short stories – The Isolation Sex Stories. Instead of life getting in the way of the things I really wanted to do, suddenly, I simply did the things I wanted to do (within the safety guidelines of course). Lockdown gave me time to breathe, enjoy my own space and company and evaluate what I really wanted from life.
I know I was lucky, COVID has been a cruel visitor to so many.
When I spoke to friends, I found that some of them had quite liked the first six weeks of the world shutting down too. The later lockdowns were more difficult to get through. Now that peaceful time has well and truly passed and I’m back to trying to organise myself to get as much done as possible which isn’t easy with all the interruptions and distractions of the outside world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, I’m enjoying a lot of the normality that has returned but my mind races again as I race to achieve all I want to and it can be frustrating.
I’ve learnt to look for answers from others on how they cope with the onslaught of everyday living, achieving goals and fulfilling ambitions. During my search on YouTube I came across a lady by the name of Mel Robbins. I watched an interview with Mel who came across as extremely honest about the troubles she had endured and how she now makes decisions using the 54321 method. I have in the past used a different method to avoid doing things I know I shouldn’t, like drinking wine every night or thinking of someone who has annoyed me or to avoid a horrible memory. I used to call it ‘switching’. The minute I thought of something I knew I shouldn’t think about I’d switch the thought to something more positive. It’s easier said than done but if you practise it, it really does work. It works in reverse too. If you procrastinate or put things off, which I admit I used to do from time to time, you simply switch your thoughts to getting that thing done without letting any negative thought enter or pull you back. You force the positive thought into your mind before letting the negative thought take hold. Mel will no doubt explain it better than I have so take a look. (Caution: Mel uses some colourful language at times so be warned!) Mel Robbins
Like everything else in life, this can be applied to writing. If you are thinking, ‘I don’t have a good idea for a story.’ Replace that thought with, ‘where can I find a good idea for a story?’ If you think, ‘I’m not a good enough writer,’ switch to thinking of something you have written in the past that you are proud of. If you think, ‘I can’t face promoting my work,’ switch to thinking, ‘how can I find a way to promote my work that I will enjoy?’
Ali Abdaal, again a YouTube motivator says that you need to work at the jobs you feel weakest at or like the least rather than always turning to the ones you find easiest or like the most as that’s the only way you will learn. This is very good advice. I always hated maths at school and whenever I have to do something figure related it gives me an unpleasant feeling deep in my gut. When I set up my first business I made myself learn spreadsheets and how to do figures. I even had to present a business plan to the bank. This was way out of my comfort zone but with support and determination I did it. I had to switch from thinking, ‘I hate maths,’ to forcing myself to be interested in it. Instead of avoiding figure related work, I don’t think too much about it, instead I try to throw myself into it before I think too much and end up avoiding it. This must be one of the most useful techniques I have ever had to learn!
What does maths have to do with writing? Well, if you are an indie author, unless you are doing it as a hobby, it is like any other business, the figures will have to add up. You will need to study marketing, how to promote yourself and your product. Some people are natural at this but many are not. There is a lot of advice available, but you will need to separate the wood from the trees or you could lose a lot of time and money.
Learn to love promoting yourself and your work, it can be fun.
Something I never used to do was ask other people to help. I was so shy and I still find this difficult. This time when I published my short stories I still felt shy about promoting them but with the help of a very talented professional I actually did the launch live on Facebook. It was nerve wracking to begin with but once I started reading, I began to relax and even enjoyed it. Seeing the comments from the viewers afterwards was one of the best experiences ever! They had been discussing the book between themselves as I read. It was heartwarming and gave me huge confidence in going forward to promote the book. I’d never have done this without help so if you can find someone who will help you, do it.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to other writers. I find Twitter a great platform to meet other authors and book reviewers. It seems to be the most interactive and supportive. #Writingcommunity is a useful tag to visit and use. By reading the experiences of others, you can only learn.
Every week I will share what I hope will be useful information for you.
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This week on the balcony… the tomatoes have been coming thick and fast now the sun has finally made an appearance. I’m waiting for my chilli peppers to turn red but I’m not sure they ever will! It hasn’t been a good year for strawberries, maybe I didn’t get them early enough or there hasn’t been enough sun.
Autumn is creeping in and soon I won’t be able to work out here (unless I buy a heater…) so I’m making the most of it. If you write outside, send me a picture and I’ll feature it on the website, I’m always interested to see where people create their masterpieces!