Praise Yourself When You Write
When the Critics Reappear
The other day a client shared with me her doubts about the value of the book she is writing. “I just don’t know if any of this will matter to anybody,” she told me.
This had been this writer’s major concern from the very beginning, pulling her away from her project for days at a time. We worked on that fear by having her write for fifteen minutes only at a time. And once she had learned to think small and gotten into a 15-minute writing routine, she realized she hadn’t been harping as much at herself about the value of her words.
Now, this client has been writing for as much as two hours at a stretch, but once again, her doubts are beginning to intrude. The critics in her head have realized that she just might finish her book—and that is cause for alarm! All troops on deck, they’ve declared, so now, each time she writes, she hears their chorus: “Nobody’s going to be interested in what you’re writing. You might think it’s important, but it isn’t.”
Stop Looking So Far Ahead
I told this writer that she is thinking much too far ahead. “How your book will be received isn’t your concern right now. Creating our book is.”
“You’re telling me I shouldn’t care about people’s reactions?” she asked.
“Not now,” I told her. “Instead, you should be praising yourself for just how much you’ve written.”
“What?” she asked, completely confused by what I had said.
“Do you remember a year ago when you were having so much trouble sitting down to write?” I asked.
“How could I forget?”
“And now you’ve gotten a draft of more than half your book completed.”
Celebrate Your Writing
“That’s cause for praise and celebration. You committed yourself to writing this book and you’ve honored your commitment. You’ve stayed with the writing, even though it felt difficult at times. Not only that, you’ve already completed a big chunk of it.”
“I guess you’re right,” she replied, still sounding unconvinced.
“You should think about that every day from now on; allow, your accomplishment to sink in,” I suggested. Then explained that her accomplishment so far was a truth no critic could steal from her. Not only that: If she really absorbed the praise, her critics would be less likely to blast her with doubts.
“Why not?” she asked, still puzzled.
“If you feel deservedly good about yourself, they’ll figure they have less chance to win.”
“That makes sense,” she said. “I’ll try.”
I’ll report back about this writer in a few months. In the meantime, do any of you have ways of rewarding yourself for honoring your commitment to writing? I’d love to hear from you.