Kim Fleet is a writer, teacher and writing coach. She’s the author of two novels (so far!) and her short stories and articles regularly appear in women’s magazines, family history and writing magazines.
She’s worked with hundreds of writers, getting them writing from scratch, rebuilding their writing after a break and helping them to reconnect with their writing after a long period when it just hasn’t been fun.
I’ve invited Kim to my blog today – Welcome, Kim! – to talk about how, as writers, we often let the critical, pessimistic part of our minds take control without even realising it and how to combat it using a few simple tricks.
So, it’s over to Kim…..
What messages are you telling yourself, every day, without even realising it? Are you reminding yourself how wonderful, talented and all round fabulous you are? Or are you telling yourself that life is tough, work’s a nightmare and you’re a drudge?
You might be subliminally sending yourself messages that are affecting your mood and shaping your perception of life. Subliminal messages are those messages that you take in without being aware of them. A hidden word in an advertising campaign. A few frames of violence embedded in an otherwise innocuous film. Yet subliminal messages aren’t the preserve of evil advertisers or nasty filmmakers. We could be regularly feeding ourselves with messages that we don’t even notice.
A few years ago, my colleagues gave me a big, chunky mug as a present. The slogan was ‘Overworked’, and underneath the mug it read ‘Underpaid’. That was how we all felt. Eventually, I left the job, taking the mug with me, and for years it’s been my ‘morning coffee’ mug. A couple of weeks ago, I suddenly saw the mug with new eyes, and wondered, ‘What message am I giving myself each day? That I’m overworked and underpaid? Do I want to see my life that way?’ (Answer – No.)
It’s often said that you get what you focus on. You attract into your life what you think about. Think that you’re unlucky and you’ll be unlucky. You just won’t see opportunities that are there for you. Your brain filters out all signals that contradict your beliefs – it searches for evidence that what you think is correct.
I didn’t want to attract overwork and low pay into my life. I didn’t want to believe that I was a drudge, and I didn’t want to reinforce this belief subconsciously every day of my life, so I demoted the mug and it’s now awaiting reincarnation as a flower pot. Instead, I have a jolly mug decorated with beach huts that makes me smile and reminds me how much I love being by the sea.
I started to wonder what other messages we send ourselves. Hands up who’s ever had ‘Ihatework’ as a password? I changed all my passwords to motivational slogans – Iamlucky, Iamworthit, Happydays. It’s a small thing, but I probably type in those passwords ten times a day, and get ten little bursts of optimism because of it.
Then I looked at my workspace – cluttered, a teetering in-tray, a pile of receipts to write up, and a huge to-do list. The clutter was stressing me out – a constant reminder that there was lots and lots and lots to do.
I set aside an afternoon and cleared it all, then put a posy of scented flowers on my desk. For me, this created a calm, clean space in which to work. As for that to-do list – I now limit it to three things a day. It forces me to focus on the key priorities in my life. Each morning I ask myself, ‘How will completing this task get me closer to achieving my goals?’ If it won’t, it doesn’t go on the list. I tick off each item once I finish it, and there’s always a great sense of satisfaction at the end of the day when the list is struck through.
What messages are you sending yourself? Are they building you up or knocking you down? What can you change so you’re reminded how fabulous you are and that life is good?
Thanks, Kim! Lots of food for thought there. As it’s Valentine’s Day (aagh, I nearly managed to avoid mentioning it), perhaps the message to us writers really is ‘Love Yourself’!
Kim’s offering a free guide to the causes and cures of writer’s block on her website, banishwritersblock.com. Her latest novel, Paternoster, will be published in June by the Mystery Press.