lightbulb standing on a mirror Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!
6,000 thoughts but how many are true?

How to Shift Some of Your Thoughts About Writing

We have a lot of thoughts about writing. But how many of them are really true?

The average person is supposed to think 6,000 thoughts every single day. Some days, I swear that 4,000 of these thoughts are some version of “my book is crap.”

Sometimes I think that we get ourselves into trouble as writers because the thoughts we’re thinking about our writing and our writing lives aren’t actually true.

They seem true — the voices are very convincing — but if you start asking questions, you’ll often find the logic disintegrates like the thin foam on an almond milk cappuccino.

And when you decide that you want to write a book and begin to commit to it, you’ll find that negative thoughts come up in full force. As in, hurricane force.

Decide that you want to publish a book and put yourself and your creative work out there for the whole world to judge and you’ll have a new set of thoughts just screaming in your ear every time you sit down to write.

I *might* be the only woman writer on the planet whose perfectionist tendencies result in fully formed and highly engaging stories that when questioned turn out to be little more than the symptoms of my deepest fears… 

Okay, am I though?

From my own personal experience as well as that of my clients and students over the years, if you find yourself thinking any of the following thoughts, you might be wrestling with the kind of stubborn mental blocks that will only result in you never actually realizing your writing dreams. 

Your Thoughts About Writing: Are They All True?

So if you’ll let me, I’d like to gently poke at the logic of these thought patterns to see how they hold up for you in the light of day. 

And here’s another well-worn secret of life that they don’t tell you in high school but definitely should: your thoughts are not reality. Freaky thought, right? But completely liberating at the same time.

If you’re feeling halfway brave, let’s go for it! 

If you’re thinking…

“I can’t find the time. My life is too busy. I just have too much going on — with work, with family — to be able to find the time to dedicate to my book.”

What if it’s true that…

Life will always be full and there will always be distractions. The key is to problem-solve and plan around your specific Real Life realities to make your writing sessions happen. 

Every published writer I know had a tonne of other things going on in their lives. Childcare, elder care, studying, volunteering, housework, vacations, fun family times, tragic family times….you name it and hundreds of writers before you have already written around it.

You will not be the first writer to finish a book in the midst of a busy life, and you certainly won’t be the last.

If you’re thinking…

“Even when I can find some time to write, I just can’t focus. There are too many distractions.”

What if it’s true that…

Writing without distractions is possible when you have the guidance and support you need to craft a writing ritual that really works for you. 

There’s a tonne of social science — yep, real science! — supporting how we can effectively find the focus we need to finish our books. Writers aren’t the only people in this world who need to do deep creative work. Musicians, Olympic athletes, scientists, and even corporate executives all need to find ways to focus. 

There are so many useful tools, systems and processes you can use to eliminate distractions — even when those distractions are made in the maze of your own mind.

If you’re thinking…

“I just need to figure out my plot/sub-plot/character development/setting/narrative arc.”

What if it’s true that…

Yes, all those things related to the craft of writing matter, but nothing matters more than your mindset and how you’ll fight the very specific fears that will stop you personally from actually completing your current writing project.

In my First Book Finish program, we spend an entire module on mindset because it’s going to be THE most important thing standing between you and a finished book. Self-doubt, self-sabotage, writer’s block, imposter syndrome…these are the monsters we must conquer in order to finish our first book AND ever other book to come! 

Because these mindset challenges don’t go away the second you publish your first book, you just learn how to cope with them.

If you’re thinking…

“No one can write my book for me, so I just have to buckle down and do it entirely on my own.”

What if it’s true that…

It’s a 100% true (yet sad) story that no fairies are coming to your house tonight to write your book for you. But that doesn’t mean you have to go it all alone. 

The most productive writers identify the support they need to finish their books and seek out loving accountability to help them get there. A supportive writing community is one of the key pillars in a healthy and rewarding writing life and it’s possible to intentionally build that for yourself.

If you’re thinking…

“All my fears and self-doubt are signs that I’m not cut out for this, and just not as talented or as dedicated as other writers.”

What if it’s true that…

Fear is just your brain finding ways to keep you safe. It’s a natural part of the creative life and self-doubt is something all artists live with. 

But you can learn to identify the sneaky ways that fear and self-doubt manifest themselves in your life and use proven, science-backed tools to develop long-lasting responses that will sustain you in your writing life for years to come.

When it comes down to it, fearful thoughts are just that…thoughts. And they’re not very helpful thoughts either! In my coaching, we find ways to work with our thoughts to focus them in ways that are more productive and helpful for finishing creative work.

If you’re thinking…

“Okay, but I just can’t figure out how to structure my book and if I can’t get the overall structure right, then there’s no point going further. If my final manuscript is going to be more of a hot mess than I am right now, what is even the point?”

What if it’s true that…

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story — that’s a quote from His Excellency Terry Pratchett. (RIP). 

And that’s true but there are also a few classic guiding principles for structuring a book and once you understand these, the sections of your book will slide into place AND you’ll know exactly what pieces to tackle in revision, which is really the fun part!

If you’re thinking…

“Who are you kidding? Who do you even think you are to think you could write a book? Just be a reader — you’re really good at that part.”

What if it’s true that…

This is just the troll in your head giving up some smack talk. With curiosity and self-compassion, you can beat that troll. And beating him once makes it so much easier to keep him away forever.

I’m not saying that this is instant or easy, but it’s work well worth doing!

If you’re thinking…

“I’m just not ready to finish my book and get it out into the world. I need to learn more, read more, take more classes, talk to more writer friends. I’M NOT READY!”

What if it’s true that…

No one’s ever ready. 

It’s true that having a good start can help, but what’s a good start? An idea and some pages: this is all any writer has when they start a book. 

Thinking that you have to achieve the magical sparkling unicorn state of “ready” could just be your perfectionism talking — and perfectionism is the enemy of art. 

No one’s ever ready, so what if you dove in and gave it a shot anyway? What’s the worst that could happen? You wake up a few months from now having written 100 more pages than you have now?

If you’re thinking…

“It’s all too big, the enormity of a project like a book. I can’t picture the whole thing in my head right now so that’s a sign I’m not ready for an artistic project that significant.”

What if it’s true that…

It really is big, AND you are up to the task. 

You can break it down into manageable pieces, just like every other meaningful thing you’ve accomplished in this life. 

Every artist feeling called into a significant artistic endeavour — a book, an art exhibit, an album — is afraid. Uncertainty is a natural state of being for us. But, what if the call to complete a big project is actually the sign that you’re ready?

 

To state the obvious, I’m not you. Only you know if all of your thoughts are true. 

But if you’re anything like myself and most of the writers I know, there’s at least one or two [thousand] thoughts that are more fiction than fact.

You can’t gain momentum and make progress in your writing until you look your fears straight in the face and learn to tell yourself a different story in the service of your art. 

And there’s nothing I know of that’s truer than that.

 

If you’re feeling courageous (or just determined to be brave anyway!) and wanting to know more about finishing a significant project like a book, then I’d like to invite you to register for my free Live Masterclass happening next week: Learn the 4 Secrets of Published Writers…How to Finally Finish Your Book in 3 Months or Less! (And without all the anxiety and self-doubt — or getting completely derailed by Real Life.) Register here to save your seat!

 

P.S. If you’ve ever read to a toddler, you know that the title of this blog is taken from the famous book by Dr. Seuss: Oh, The Thinks You Can Think! A classic that belongs on any child’s bookshelf.

 

Oh, The Thinks You Can Think, Dear Writer!