Positive Phrases for a Healthy Author Mindset
Writing books is hard. So are most of the actions we must take to sell them. But do you know what makes these tasks harder? An incompatible mindset. Compare the attitudes of writers who talk about writing for years with published authors who have acted and built a business, and you will see the difference. It’s not that those who succeed are inherently better at authorial tasks; it’s that their mindset helps them overcome the obstacles that trip their peers. The way they think sets them apart. And that’s why you should consider cultivating a strong mindset a foundational author skill.
Depending on your frame of reference, you might believe that mindset is something that those who get lucky bring up to rationalise their success. Or you might think it’s an ingrained personality feature that some people are born with. Science, though, has identified a real correlation between positivity and an individual’s ability to improve their life circumstances. Healthline research, for instance, indicates that those who practice positive self-talk can not only change their environment and prospects through action but even boost their immune function by triggering physiological changes within the body.
The reasons why some of these changes occur is still unclear, but the researchers’ overall conclusion is certain:
When you begin to recognize your types of negative thinking, you can work to turn them into positive thinking. This task requires practice and time and doesn’t develop overnight. The good news is that it can be done. A 2012 study shows even small children can learn to correct negative self-talk.
And therein lies the premise of today’s post: using positive self-talk to improve your mindset and prospects as an author. Achieving this feat might seem unlikely now if you struggle with negative thoughts but, providing you have a healthy mental state in general, it’s possible. The key is learning how to identify and dispute your irrational thoughts. Turning the tide is a challenge but you can overcome it with a few key phrases.
“I’m An Author”
Brendon Burchard, one of the world’s most successful performance coaches, once ran a 40,000-participant study to identify the key traits of high performers. When comparing the professional achievements of everyday citizens, he found that those who combined their identity with their goals tended to outperform those who separated them. According to his findings, “the data is clear: high performers like necessity.” They achieve because they work harder than their peers. And they work harder because they feel like they need to or risk losing their identity. He explains, “This is true whether or not they choose the task. It’s also true whether or not they enjoy the task. It’s their identity – not always the choice or enjoyment of the task – that drives them to do well.”
This insight doesn’t provide the key to fulfilment and work-life balance but it does display a definite path to improving your chances of professional success. If you want to succeed, tie your identity to your goal. Say “I’m an author” when people ask you what you do, even if you haven’t published a book yet. When you tell people you’re an author, you will develop a sense of necessity around writing and publishing books. In the same vein, add that you’re a “successful” author and you will also drive yourself to practice marketing to hit bestseller lists.
“Add Dialogue. You Can Do It!”
Having conducted a study of athletes, staff at the University of Thessaly have concluded in Psychology Today that you can use positive self-talk in two ways to improve your performance. The first is an intuitive strategy that many of us already use – motivational self-talk. Research leader Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis explains that motivational self-talk, like “you’ve got this” and “you can do it,” helps athletes perform better in strength and endurance tasks. Meanwhile, instructional self-talk works better for improving technique. Examples of this latter case include golfers who say “shift your weight” and “drop your elbow” moments before they swing.
On the surface, this information might not seem transferable to authors, but it can help. For instance, when writing, you can repeat lessons you’ve learned about grammar, punctuation, style and narrative to improve the quality of your work. Subvocalising “Use dialogue” as you write, for example, could help you add variety to your page if you have a habit of being too heavy on the description. You could also extend your session with quiet pep talks. For example: “You can do another 200 words. What’s 200 words? It’s easy!” Combining these self-talk techniques when you need them can improve your output, both in terms of quality and quantity.
Taking a compliment can feel like a social balancing act. When someone tells you you’re a good writer or that your latest book is excellent, your kneejerk reaction might be to downplay their comment. After all, you’ve been taught that bragging is unlikeable. Overreaching, you might even respond that your book isn’t that successful or trivialise the ideas it contains. You’re not alone. In a bid to appear humble, lots of people overshoot on the self-deprecation, making themselves sound unsuccessful while, at the same time, implying the kind person complimenting them is wrong. By trying to do right, they insult their fan’s taste and do themselves a disservice.
If you struggle here, try these two simple words: “Thank you.” It might seem big-headed, as if you’re agreeing that you’re great, but that’s not how others perceive it. All thanking your flatterer does is show you appreciate their high opinion of you or your work. You’re calling them kind. Acknowledging an achievement isn’t unlikable; dwelling on it to instigate envy is what others hate, so this if fine. In fact, saying thank you shows humility because it limits the conversation, allowing everyone to move onto other topics rather than dragging out the interaction with denials as if you’re fishing for further complements. What’s more, doing so protects you from making a habit of using negative phrases to describe yourself, which will help you maintain a strong mindset.
“I Can Learn”
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Obviously, this statement shouldn’t be taken literally – you can’t think your way into breathing underwater – but it’s right to emphasise the power of mindset. For example, in this world, there are two types of people:
- Those with a fixed mindset who believe they can’t learn anything new.
- Those with a growth mindset who believe they can learn new things to achieve any goal.
Numerous studies prove that those with a fixed mindset tend to give up on tasks quickly and fail to overcome obstacles. In contrast, growth-mindset people usually keep trying for longer. And while they don’t always succeed, they’re more likely to solve their problems or learn a lesson that improves them in unexpected ways.
You can’t force someone into having a growth mindset. They must want it for themselves to make that happen. If you recognise fixed-mindset thoughts in your own habits and want to change, however, you can train yourself to use positive self-talk to do so. Uttering phrases like “I can learn” whenever you’re heading down a negative mental path, for instance, can disrupt your fixed-mindset habit and help you challenge it to persevere. Once you’ve practiced this technique and seen small successes, the positive feedback will train your brain to reach for optimism automatically when approaching a new, unfamiliar task.
“Used to Be” and “Yet”
Much of our identity is linked to how we see ourselves in the present. You’ve probably heard celebrities with shady pasts mention some of the following phrases in interviews that prove this statement:
“I was different back then.”
“I don’t recognise that person anymore.”
Biologically, they are still the same. But while some might be lying and using the interview as a PR stunt, many totally believe they’ve grown and, having seen their identity shift, no longer think in the same way they did during their troubled years. Mentally, they’re a different person. They have different thought patterns and values and would never regress as they can no longer relate to the way they used to think.
While they see their shift as a past event, however, you can engineer the process to change how you think now to enhance your future. Limiting negative thoughts to a past identity and defining your future with positive phrases can kickstart the process. For example, if you struggle with marketing, don’t say, “I’m a terrible marketer.” Instead try, “I’ve been a bad marketer, but I’m improving.” Or say, “I’m not a good marketer yet.” The first statement confines your negativity to the past and the second instils in you a positive outlook for your future identity. Importantly, both enable you to see yourself positively now and shape your short-term actions.
Positive phrases are effective, especially when you tie them to your identity. Remember, though, that words alone have limited impact. For your positive phrases to improve your author results significantly, you must link them with affirmative actions to start a positive reinforcement loop. Combine positive self-talk with productive habits and, given time, you will see your personal growth snowball, bringing with it all the benefits of a strong mindset.
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