The beauty of writing is that a story can explore a rainbow of emotions, from fear and contempt to grief and rage.
However, the emotions we conjure up in our writing have a way of bringing us writers down to the point where we stop writing.
That’s neither good for your story nor you.
Don’t let these somber story feelings drag you down. You can stay positive while you write even the most depressing of stories by changing your mindset and your environment. I have seven suggestions to bring back your optimism:
Seek Words of Encouragement
If you can’t find inspiration inside of yourself to stay positive while you write, then search for it outside of yourself.
Just a simple Internet search or scrolling through your Pinterest feed can find you the inspirational quotes that can pump us up and give us all the feels. Find the quotes that you find the most motivating and optimistic, then place them where you’ll see (and read) them often, such as your writing workspace, your bedroom wall and your bathroom mirror.
Tune Out Your Inner Editor
I don’t have to introduce you to your inner editor. You know that voice inside your head that keeps nitpicking your sentences, your word choices and your grammar.
How can you stay positive while you write when you’re focused on what your inner editor is saying?
Most writers and editors advise for you to turn off this voice completely. But I don’t think that’s the best solution. Your inner editor speaks in fear that you’ll forget to make those necessary changes.
So why not give your inner editor a task while you write?
Have a separate notebook specifically for your inner editor to take notes. Think that sentence needs more work? Note it. Not your strongest section of dialogue? Note it. Don’t like how you transitioned between two scenes? Note it.
While your inner editor takes notes, you keep writing.
The point is for you not to dwell on what you perceive as mistakes. Your inner editor is busy note-taking while you’re focused on the present scene within your story.
Choose Chipper Tunes
Be mindful of the music that plays during your writing session. Does it lack cheer? Does it dwell on sadness, anger, revenge and anxiety?
Sounds like you need better beats.
Create a playlist that helps you stay positive while you write. If you like vocals in your writing music, examine the lyrics to see if they contribute to your optimism levels. If you prefer writing in public, you may need to bring a pair of headphones to help tune out their dismal tunes.
I actively listen to smooth jazz while I write (it’s playing right now as I type!) because the drums keep a positive beat, the instruments resonate with cheer and the songs emphasize major chords.
Focus on the Present
We live in an age of distraction. We’re only a click away from streaming a movie, scrolling through social media and searching the Internet for trivial facts.
And don’t forget that to-do list that seems to quickly grow by the hour.
It’s easy to get sucked down a rabbit hole that’s full of negativity. It’s also keeping you from staying positive while you write.
Train yourself to stay in the present moment of your story. What will your hero say next? What will your villain do next to complicate the plot? What does the scene look like?
Let yourself enjoy your story as it unfolds. You’ll find more motivation for tackling your to-do list later if you give yourself this time to really write down your story.
Transform Your Negativity
Negative thoughts can overtake our minds when we do not give that negative thought a positive solution. Instead, we let it fester in our minds on repeat until we believe in the doom.
To stay positive while you write, you must be in control of your thoughts. Transform a negative statement into an optimistic command. For example, “chapter three is a complete mess” becomes “I can fix chapter three in the future by examining my character’s motivation.”
And since you now have your inner editor on standby, that positive command is notated in your inner editor notebook for you to investigate later.
Follow your optimistic command with a positive statement about your writing, such as “I described the setting very strongly in chapter three.”
Cheer Yourself On
There’s a big difference between writing confidence and writing arrogance—and giving yourself credit for your mini writing accomplishments falls under writing confidence.
This is something that I like to do to help me stay positive while I write. After each writing session, I list my accomplishments during that writing session and place it where I plan to begin tomorrow. At the beginning of my next writing session, I read this list to remind myself where in the story I left off and how much I achieved in my last writing session. This empowers me to keep on achieving in that current writing session.
Remember why you became a writer in the first place? Was it because you found writing to be an easy, mindless task?
Of course not. It was because writing a story is challenging and you love how you can tackle that challenge.
Some writing sessions are harder than others. Some chapters of your story are harder to write. Some characters are harder to develop. Some days are harder to stay positive while you write.
Remind yourself of the times when you tackled a writing challenge in a previous story and how you conquered it. Not only did you succeed because of your problem-solving skills, but also because you trusted yourself to do it.
So trust yourself again. If you don’t get it right in the first try, trust that you’ll find a way to write your way to a better solution. It may not be today or tomorrow, but believe in yourself that you can do this.