Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Adjust Your Thinking

Sometimes, when in that deep pit of despair, all you need to do is change the way you think about something. For example:

1. When you get a rejection, instead of thinking, "I suck. My book sucks. This s-u-c-k-s." you might try thinking, "Dude, this sucks, but you know what? S/He wasn't the agent for me."

2. When you get a critique back from a beta, instead of thinking, "Holy crap! They hate me, my book, my dog and the color orange!" you might try thinking, "This will make my book stronger. I'm glad I have people who are smarter than me helping me out."

3. When you see a picture of yourself and you notice that you look like death warmed over (see yesterday's post), instead of thinking, "Holy crap! How do I go out in public like that??" you might try thinking, "I am beautiful, in every single way."

Positive thoughts lead to more positive actions. (So says I.)

What do you think? Can you change your attitude about writing, querying, and/or your perceived level of self-worth simply by changing the way you think? And if so, what positive thoughts will replace those negative ones?

62 comments:

Matthew Rush said...

1) Just be careful not to tell yourself "that agent sucks", and if you do, don't blog about it. This can lead to awkward situations.

2) This is tough, but excellent advice. Try to remind yourself WHY you wanted a critique in the first place. Hopefully it was to make your writing the best it can possibly be. If you want smoke blown at you just give your MS to your mom.

3) Getting some sun from time to time and showering can help, otherwise throw some glitter on, pretend to be a vampire and just roll with it.

Thanks Elana! You are the best.

The Golden Eagle said...

Great advice!

Erinn said...

This came at a perfect time. Last night I was having a pity party for myself. Every word I wrote sucked and it made me want to cry.

But I should think, at least I'm doing something to make my writing stronger and if it doesn't work then I can just cut it.

gwen morrison said...

I completely agree, and am also completely guilty of thinking the worst. Good advice to writers and non-writers. I read somewhere once that it's not what people say that matters, it's how you react to it that makes it what it is.

Jen said...

This is such wonderful advice! It's very important to remember in a time of despair or frustration to try and turn that thinking into something positive! Great post Elana... always rockin' out over here!

Terri Tiffany said...

LOL #2 is mine today. Got a few not-so-great feedbacks from Beta readers who think my MC is too selfish. UGH! So I woke up at 3am thinking I stink at this and will never be able to write a lovable character.
Thanks for the cheers.

Vicki Rocho said...

Great advice, and I'm cracking up over Matthew's #3.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great advice. I've been really trying to realize that about agents when I haven't won some contests I've entered. Sometimes I do fall into the negative thoughts. Just so we get back to the positive ones.

Scott said...

Attitude is everything. I try - hard some days - to keep a positive attitude. There are days when my patience is tested and I drop down into the depths of despair. Luckily, those days are far and few between.

We can go a lot farther in life with a positive attitude.

S

Piedmont Writer said...

Which is why I don't let anyone take pics of me.

Think positvely! You were at a conference.

A. Grey said...

Awesome post! I was feeling rather wretched myself yesterday (thanks for the supportive comment btw Elana:) and part of it had to do with fidgeting over my ms because I'd queried an agent I've heard great things about, but who made me nervous.

I'd read a comment she'd made about 'info dumping' in books and I immediately decided that I had info dumps in my ms, even though none of my readers have noticed anything of the sort. After querying, I worked on what I perceived as problems, convinced that I was doomed anyway because if I info dumped, obviously this agent wouldn't like my query either, so defeat was imminent. I mean OBVIOUSLY... and then I got a request for a partial yesterday afternoon...

Which doesn't mean that I'll land the agent. But I learned from her remarks, which weren't even directed at me, and I think that regardless, my ms is stronger for the changes I made.

You learn every moment of every day! Which is why I'm a highly optimistic realist... I think positively as much as possible and at the same time try to break whatever happened down so I can suck information out of it. It isn't easy, and there are definitely days when you struggle... but it's so WORTH IT!

Candyland said...

Ahaha. I hate the color orange!!! And you DO look beautiful ALWAYS. So there!

Theresa Milstein said...

I thought your picture was beautiful in every single way.

Funny, I got a rejection yesterday. It's really hard not to beat myself up. I try tricks like that, but they're kinda hollow.

Jonathon Arntson said...

This is all too logical for me. And I enjoy being in despair.

Christina Lee said...

This is prompting me to sing "you are beautiful in every single way..words can't bring me do--o--own" by Christina A. ;-)

Really this is a life lesson, no?

Jemi Fraser said...

Positive thinking does work. It's just harder some days :)

salarsenッ said...

Attitude and outlook are amazing things. I am a firm believer that positive energy attracts positive energy. Thus, the reverse is the same. I really don't want to continue attracting negative vibes. It's human nature to get down; just recognize it and shift to a more positive gear.

salarsenッ said...

Attitude and outlook are amazing things. I am a firm believer that positive energy attracts positive energy. Thus, the reverse is the same. I really don't want to continue attracting negative vibes. It's human nature to get down; just recognize it and shift to a more positive gear.

Meredith said...

Love this post. I'm definitely a big fan of positive thinking. And if it doesn't work, dancing around the room like an idiot never fails to put a smile on my face, no matter how many rejections I get :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

1. I've usually forgotten I'd queried the agent in the first place . . . heck, I didn't even remember the agent existed (most of the time).

2. Except for ONCE, this doesn't happened to me. Usually I can't wait to dive in to make my ms better (I love editing!!!). Okay, sure my stomach does a few nose dives, but it quickly recovers.


3. Can't do much about this. I'm still fighting the urge to stick pins in my hairstylist and receptionist (for switching my apt from my requested stylist) voodoo dolls. But at least hair grows. :)

Christine Fonseca said...

Yep - its all about your thinking! Great post.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Thanks for the self-esteem pep talk this morning. And, yes, it's all about our own attitude. I have said all those things about myself, which is self-abuse. So, turn it around, look for the beauty in ourselves and our work and the day will suddenly be much brighter.

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

Fantastic advice, and if I wasn't so scattered over everything I have to do I would have more things to say but my attitude has taken a back seat to my "busy". I guess I could stop thinking cleaning my house to white glove standards doesn't suck...but I'm not sure how to make that positive. I'll work on it ;)

Carol Kilgore said...

I see you've been in my head again. Since you have, you know I needed to read this post. Thank you.

Melody said...

Absolutely, you can! It's hard, but it can be done. Thanks for the reminder, Elana.

Stephanie McGee said...

You can adjust your thinking. It takes work. But it can be done. (Something I'm working on right now with convincing myself that I'm not a hack and that revisions are worthwhile endeavors over starting a new project.)

Falen (Sarah) said...

dude, #2 is ridiculous. No one hates the color orange ;)

for reals, though, i'm a firm believer of positivity attracting positivity. and who wants to spend energy being negative? i'm way too lazy for that

lisanowak said...

It's not just your opinion. There's scientific evidence that both negative and positive thinking perpetuate themselves. The worst thing you can do when you're feeling down is think negative thoughts.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Absolutely! Our thoughts is where it all begins anyway.

Zoe C. Courtman said...

You know what changed my mind? Adderall, lol. Before it, I couldn't concentrate enough to get through a novel, and I'd think, I HATE THIS! I SUCK. SO HARD! I'LL NEVER BE ABLE TO WRITE FICTION! And, while meds are CERTAINLY not the right choice for so many, perhaps it bears looking at the reasons underlying a currently negative mindset :D

Susan R. Mills said...

Well said, Elana. Well said.

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

So true! It's all a matter of perspective. If your attitude is open and receptive, the influences around you will only strengthen you. With a little bit of persistence and a positive outlook, you can survive any obstacle.

Sara B. Larson said...

Very true, and something I need to hear right now. Rejection is hard at any point in this game.

E. Arroyo said...

Yes. I'm tired of hearing "...if I get published." No, It's "When you get published."

Thanks for this.

Lia Victoria said...

I absolutely agree :]

...only it's never okay to hate the color orange. Ever.

Janet Johnson said...

Absolutely. What we say more than influences us. :) We definitely choose our attitude.

Hilary Wagner ~ Debut Author said...

Elana,

I did that with my first novel. The querying was killing and I was just so down and out. Finally, I yelled at myself, told myself and my husband my book would get published and pretty much forced myself to stay positive. My husband and I started a running joke that if I didn't get a rejection in a given week we'd have a bad weekend and if I got a Friday rejection, that was good luck! I guess it was!

BTW: You look cute in that pic! :)

xoxo -- Hilary

VR Barkowski said...

I'm so freakin' proud of myself. First, it never occurred to me my books suck. How bizarre is that? Second, I've never thought my betas hate me. Why would they be undertaking the onerous task of reading my stuff if they were hating on me? They want to help, and words can't express how appreciative I am. And third, the pix? After I took up photography, I vowed never again to be one of those women (it's always women) who duck, cover or run every time they see a camera. I take much better pictures these days.

Yowza, not bad for a dyed-in-the-wool pessimist who lives just north of despair. Thanks Elana! Must. Go. Query.

Crystal Cook said...

Dude, how did you know I needed this? But it's hard isn't it? To change the way we think, just about one of the most challenging things in the world. My thoughts know where they want to go and I have to give them the worlds biggest butt kicking to get them to shine a little light on me and let me glitter sometimes.

LeishaMaw said...

That's just what I needed to face my revisions today. It's not 5,000 words I have to destroy, it's 5,000 words I get to play with. Thanks!

Talli Roland said...

So true, Elana. We need to tell ourselves it's subjective and just keep moving on. I think that's really important - to move forward and not dwell on negativity.

Krispy said...

Attitude is everything right? It's hard to stay positive, but it's important to do so to stay motivated. That's what I'm struggling with now. Thanks for the pep talk. :)

Marsha Sigman said...

1)I like to think that something must have distracted them from noticing my awesomeness or some temporary blindness/insanity/malaria gripped them at the very moment they read my query. This makes me feel better while wishing them a get well soon in my head.

2) No problems with this because my cp's are incredible and they love me, I love them, and we are a circle of love.

3) I like to tell myself I look artistic and tortured...a lot. Or I meant for my hair to look like that. Or maybe I am starting a new fashion trend...

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Great post Elana, and just what I need. I'll confess, I've been very stuck in the negative, 'I suck' zone. But I'm trying to dig out.

Thanks for giving me more reasons to stay positive.

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Great post Elana, and just what I need. I'll confess, I've been very stuck in the negative, 'I suck' zone. But I'm trying to dig out.

Thanks for giving me more reasons to stay positive.

Em-Musing said...

I'm positive my new outfits will attract an agent at RWA nationals. No wait, it's all about my writing, isn't it?

Corey Schwartz said...

And when you should be in AC with your friends, but you are home with a sick kid, think "At least tomorrow I will be a few hundred dollars richer :)

Lydia Kang said...

Oh, it is very hard to do this. After a bit of time, I can usually turn my attitude around. But not at first!

Jessie said...

my mom's favorite says is: "if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." A lot of times it sounds hokey, but if you're not projecting an positive attitude, you can't expect positive things to happen to you.

Kaitlyn (Kaitlyn in Bookland) said...

I am a strong believer in positive thinking!

Kerrie said...

I completely agree that changing the way you think about things is one of the tickets to happiness. :) Great post!

WritingNut said...

Thanks for the reminder Elana - I needed this :)

Somehow you just know!

Tiffany Neal said...

You absolutely have to have a postitive attitude. There are days that I feel horrible and the self pity party gets me nowhere and only sucks any creativity out of me.

Totally agree!

catwoods said...

We cannot change the outcomes of our lives by thinking one way or another. We can, however, live happily with the process by letting the negative go and focusing on the positive.

The truth is yours to believe in--good or bad.

I personally love half-full glasses. It means I enjoyed a bit of fresh squeezed oj and that I still have some left to savor. Life doesn't get any better than that.

Renae said...

Great post Elana! I needed this, I've been stuck in the I suck mood for the past couple of weeks.

And your picture yesterday was gorgeous as usual so I have to disagree with you on that one.

Slamdunk said...

Since my experience with rejection was more in the employment world, my focus was on "well, they probably did not read your stuff closely." I always have felt like that if I could get an interview, I would get an offer.

So my positive thoughts were "how can I improve my pitch, so that someone will notice me and read my submission closely?"

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great post, Elana! Words to live by. :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

"Positive thoughts lead to more positive actions." Words to live by, Elana. Every single word rings true, and I needed this. Thanks! :-)

ali said...

Hey, was that a snide comment about my DOG?

Jennifer Shirk said...

Yeah, I do think you can whip those negative thoughts out of your head, too. :)

Heather said...

I love this post! It's a great reminder that we must have tough skin and learn to take the positive out of every situation. Sometimes we have to look harder for it, but it's there.

Nichole Giles said...

Hey...What did the color orange ever do to you? I bet you look fab in it.

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