Habit 15: Don’t be Overly Critical

In order to venture into the mindset of excellence, try to get rid of all negativity from your vocabulary. Being overly critical is absolutely counterintuitive to excellence because excellence can’t flourish in a critical environment and with a self-deprecatory attitude. Instead, excellence thrives from within a positive mindset. This is so important to establish first and foremost in your writing career.

So, how can you take steps not to be overly critical? Here are a few things to try:

• Don’t have a critical attitude towards yourself or your writing career;

• Eliminate negative self-talk as much as possible. Negative self-talk can only make you feel very joyless and unhappy and excellence doesn’t thrive in this environment.

• Step back and take stock as often as possible. But take stock in positive ways. Don’t take stock in order to criticize yourself harshly.

• Take time to relax and refresh. This is an essential step to focus and to be at your best.

• Have fun when you write. Make the process as enjoyable as possible

• Create a positive attitude around your writing time and environment. Sometimes our surroundings can help us to be more positive too and at our best.

By taking these steps and by trying to be as positive and compassionate towards yourself and your writing, you will be at your best.

Irene S. Roth

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Guest Post on Newbie Fears by Linda de Cougny

Newbie Fears
By Linda de Cougny

Who are “They”? Who are these faceless, nameless masses that I attach so much power to? The unconscious collective who en mass I let decide what I do, how I think and most importantly how I feel about any topic or situation.

As a newbie writer, the fears of not being good enough and giving my power over to such a collective is real. What if I do “it” wrong? What if I offend somebody? OR…here’s a biggie…What if they don’t like me or my work?

Oooohhhh!!! Scary!!! And yes, it’s scary, and just as palpable as my neighbor’s cute but annoying dog who incessantly barks at night. Each little high-pitched yelp nips at my psyche and enters my soul only to make it worse than it really is. Before I know it, the little bugger is happily back in his house, but I allow the noise and distraction live on in me.

So…what if I do “it” wrong? My question is: What is “it”? and What is “wrong”? Throughout history if we were all so worried and concerned about doing “it wrong” we would still live in caves. Yes, there are proven guidelines to do almost anything one can think of, but sometimes we need to break away from convention and introduce something new and fresh. That’s called taking a risk. And sometimes taking a risk pays off.

What if I offend somebody? Yes, some people are offended by many things. Some are real, some are manufactured. But, really, I can’t go through life worried that I may offend someone. Yes, I can use common courtesy and be aware to the best of my ability, but there is no way to really know who will be or choose to be appalled by what I write.

What if “they” don’t like me or my work? Those nameless, faceless masses that I give myself over to. Not everyone is going to like everybody or everything. I certainly don’t. If they don’t like it, they will move on to something else. As for other professionals in the field that are overly critical and who may not like my work as a newbie, well, shame on them for forgetting what it was like when they were new. They will have to own their attitude as I have to own mine. Constructive criticism is helpful and always appreciated; destructive is not.

So my question now is…Who are “they”? “They” are the masses of potential readers that I can connect with; the ones who will appreciate my writing. And maybe I can inspire someone to overcome their newbie fears.

To read more about Linda and her work, please visit her blog at: https://everything-french.blogspot.com/

Thank you Linda for being on my blog today!  I look forward to receiving more of your wonderful articles in the future.

 

Habit 14: Be Your Own Coach

Writers sometimes can get lost in their writing to the point where they become unaware of where precisely they are headed in their writing careers. This is like floundering in a dark dungeon. This doesn’t mean that your writing is a dark dungeon. It’s just that you don’t have a big picture of where you are going in your writing career. And that is one way not to be excellent.

Therefore, you have to bring where you are going both in the short-term and long-term to awareness and write down your process of proceeding step-by-step. When you have this kind of road map, you will be successful as a writer. Otherwise, you will just be busy but not completing manuscripts or goals.

A few ways to be your own coach is to first always write down your long and short-term goals. Take stock of how you are doing on completing your writing goals from week to week and month to month.

Second, monitor which of your writing goals you are completing. Focus on completing your whole goal before moving onto the next one. In other words, never start a new manuscript unless you haven’t finished the one you are working on.

Third, make sure that you follow-through on your goals. Make sure that you are completing all the goals that you committed to at the beginning of the year.

Lastly, aim to complete each of your writing goals with excellence. This means making sure your manuscripts are proofread and well organized.

By following these steps you will be working towards being your own coach, and you will be striving to be the best that you can be, one small goal completion at a time.

Irene S. Roth

Habit 13: Encourage Yourself

It can be easy to keep going in a neutral fashion. But we all need to find ways to spice up our writing life.

There are many ways that writers can do this. Here are a few of these ways:

1. Set mini-goals for yourself. When you set mini-goals and achieve them, you are setting small goals that will over time help you produce and complete more manuscripts. That will mean that you get a lot of writing done over time.

Also, as you complete each mini-writing goal, you will become more self-confident as a writer and you’ll be able to encourage yourself to be better and better.

2. You could write for personal fulfillment. This type of writing allows you to explore new types of writing never yet explored. But what is more, you can explore who you are as a writer and the many types of writing you can do.

So, try to encourage yourself often as a writer. You will feel more self-confident and you will be growing as a writer every step of the way. Excellence occurs over time. There is no one size fits all way to become excellent. You just keep improving, getting better at your craft, and complete manuscripts that you can complete and get published.

Now that is true excellence.

Habit 11: Stay Passionate About Your Writing

It can be hard to keep our levels of enjoyment when we write on an even keel. But in order to write consistently and at our best, we must try to do so as much as this is possible for optimal success as a writer.

When a writer is passionate, she is excited when she sits down to write. In addition, the passionate writer finds that this passion propels her to write every day.

Second, the passionate writer looks ahead to her writing time and loves to write. This excitement gives a writer the courage and motivation to write often.

A passionate writer also wants to write the best quality manuscripts that she is capable to write. This all adds up to a good quality of writing life.

Lastly, a passionate writer is motivated to be an excellent writer. This helps her to be at her best and to write in such a way that she enjoys writing and writes manuscripts that are of the best quality at all times. This can be hard to achieve. But if a writer has passion, all things are indeed possible.

So, try and stay passionate to your writing. This will not only help you to get to your desk every day, but it will help to be your best and feel most self-confident. And these are two things that are necessary for you to be an excellent writer.

Habit 10: Keep Growing and Learning

Do you ever feel like you’re not really progressing with your writing?

Perhaps you’re at the start of your writing journey, but it’s hard going. You feel unconfident and unsure: you want to move forward, but you don’t know quite how.

Perhaps you’ve been writing for years and years, and you’re in a bit of a rut. You feel bored, stagnant: you want to take the next steps, but you’re afraid of leaving your comfort zone.

One of the most important things that you can do as a writer is to keep growing.

Here are 21 ways to grow as a writer, whatever stage you’re at. See what you could try this week.

Get Started

1. Read something — and think about it. How did the author grab your attention on page one of that novel? How did the blogger keep you reading post after post on their site?

2. Learn a new word. If you come across one when you’re reading, look it up, and find out what it means.

3. Tackle a writing exercise. Use a book (or website) with prompts, or flick through a magazine and pick an image to write about.

4. Write as often as you can. That might not be every day — but it should at least be every week. Once writing becomes a habit, you’ll find it much easier to make consistent progress.

Practice As Much As You Can

5. Correct a persistent mistake. Do you constantly confuse “its” and “it’s”? Do you muddle “affect” and “effect”? Spend some time learning the difference.

6. Practice one element of writing. Try writing dialogue, or description, or killer opening lines. Lots of writing books have exercises to help you.

7. Keep a writing journal. After each writing session, jot down your thoughts: how did it go? What worked (and what didn’t)? Did anything surprise you?

8. Go through your writing folder. Look back at something you wrote months or years ago. See if it might have potential for development (and see how your writing has moved on since then).

Seek Help and Support

9. Share your writing with someone. Perhaps that’s a family member or a trusted friend. You don’t need to ask for their feedback — just let them read it.

10. Get your writing edited. Pay a professional to edit an article, blog post, novel chapter, etc. Look through all their edits carefully, and see what you can learn.

11. Join a writers’ group. This is a great way to meet other writers, get feedback on your work, and learn more about the craft of writing.

Shaking Things Up

12. Try a new form of writing. If you only write in third person, try first person. If you only write prose, try poetry. If you only write serious non-fiction, try a humorous piece.

13. Read something outside your comfort zone. That could be literary fiction, biography, erotica, westerns … anything that you normally wouldn’t consider reading (or writing).

14. Write in a new location. Try a library, a coffee shop, a park… and see whether you find it easier to be creative when your surroundings are different.

15. Attend a writing course. There are so many options, from afternoon workshops to degree programmes to foreign holidays — take a look at what’s available!

Aim for Publication

16. Enter a competition. There’ll be dozens of websites, magazines, and writers’ groups running competitions in your country.

17. Pitch your book idea to a publisher. Even if your book proposal gets turned down, you’ll have gained valuable experience — and you’ll have a detailed plan that you can use for a self-published e-book.

18. Submit articles or short stories to magazines. (With articles, you’ll normally need to pitch first; with short stories, you’ll normally need to send the complete story.)

Going Further

19. Get testimonials. If you’re a freelance writer, or if you’ve written a non-fiction book or product, ask your clients/buyers to for testimonials — this is a huge help in encouraging new business.

20. Set yourself a challenge. Maybe you want to get published in a national newspaper, or see your writing on a huge website, or win a competition.

21. Self-publish your work. In today’s digital world, it’s easier than ever to get your writing in front of readers. Think about starting a blog, or putting your novel out there in e-book form.

Therefore, to be an excellent writer, just keep improving and becoming increasingly good at your craft. Not only will you be a happier writer as a result, but you will also feel much more able to cope with the ups and downs of the job.

Irene S. Roth

Habit 9: Write Every Day

One of the most important things that writers can do for themselves is to write every day. But this can be hard for all of us to achieve.

The best way to write consistently is to set up mini-writing goals. These are small measurable goals that we know you can achieve, such as writing 50 or 100 words a day, every day. Most writers can do this in their sleep. So, it is a no-brainer. The idea is that once you get into the habit of writing even 50 words a day, you will be able to do a lot more in time. But even 50 or 100 consistent words a day equals a lot of writing in a year, and quite a few completed manuscripts over time.

Many writers have a difficult time to get to their desks on a consistent basis. Part of the problem is creating a habit of writing every day, despite all of our distractions and difficulties. Life is never problem- free it seems, and there is always something ready to catapult our writing time, if we let it.

In addition to your scheduled writing sessions, use odd bits of “down” time to write:

- Your daily bus commute
- Doctor appointments
- Unexpected doctor visits
- The half hour the cake needs to cool before you can ice it
- Waiting for anything–a flight departure, the cable guy, your date to show up.

Always make sure you have something to write on (and with!), even if it means keeping a pen and small notebook in your fanny pack while jogging, or with your towel at the beach. You’ll be surprised how much you can actually accomplish in these short, otherwise unproductive periods.

A Place of Your Own

As important, perhaps, as a time to write is a place that you can lay claim to as your writing space–a place where you won’t be interrupted, where ideally you can leave your work out when you’re finished for the day. In addition to the space needed for your computer and printer, you should have plenty of desktop space to spread out your notes or any other materials you’re working with.

A bulletin board where you can pin up inspirational quotes, pictures of settings or characters, deadlines, etc. is a great addition to your writing space. Make sure you have adequate lighting, a sturdy, comfortable chair and a handy shelf for your writing reference books.
Whatever it takes, create a place that means writing to you–and to those around you–the minute you occupy it: your special place, your writing place.

The point is to make the most of whatever time and space you have. Writers work on subways, buses and commuter trains. Any place is a good place to write if you just recognize its possibilities. A quiet place is ideal, but–as anyone who has ever worked for a newspaper knows–it is possible to turn out good writing in the middle of utter chaos.

Starter-Sparkers

No matter what you accomplish in a writing session, you’ll frequently find yourself having to pick up in the middle of something left unfinished from a previous session, and you may be worried about maintaining your momentum, or picking up the thread of your thoughts.

Whether you use any of these methods or concoct one of your own, the important thing is getting back to your writing project–whatever stage it is in–and continuing with it, making one step forward after another, and getting more and more words on the page.

So, if you are not writing consistently, try the mini-habit approach to writing. Through this approach, you set small mini-habits that you will achieve and worse comes to worse you can force yourself to do because they are so small. Through the mini-habits approach you will be writing more every day, and you will be building on your self-confidence.

Becoming excellent is a never-ending process that we can all emulate. Try the small-mini-writing goal approach. You will be so glad that you did and you will be building self-confidence as a result—which is a win-win for writers.

Irene S. Roth