When You’re Writing, Attitude is Everything by Lisa M. Evans, Ph.D.

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In Writers
Jan 20th, 2013
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peacePerhaps your mom was like my mom. Every once in a while she would say, “You’d better change that attitude of yours.” As a kid, I thought that was idiotic because I couldn’t “change” my attitude any more than I could change how old I was. However, life has taught me one’s attitude has a great impact upon any endeavor, and attitudes, indeed, can change. Here are 10 attitudes that I have adopted in order to fully experience what writing has to offer.

  1. Make writing a habit. My goal is to write at least 30 minutes a day; therefore, I plan for the time in my calendar. When I am intentional about my writing goal for each day, I am more likely to reach that goal.
  1. Treat writing as a process. We’ve been told over and over again that writing is a process. Well, it is. I actively use pre-writing, drafts, editing, and the other stages of writing to produce my best work.
  1. Acknowledge the inner critic. Every once in a while my mind will say something like, “You’re just a poser. No one cares what you have to say!” When this happens, I promptly thank my mind because our minds really want to evaluate and classify. It’s what they do best. Acknowledging the inner critic puts it to rest much faster than if I ignore it or argue with it.
  1. Separate composing from editing. This single attitude has changed the way I approach writing. I used to write one sentence then edit it. Writing was laborious and, frankly, miserable. Now that I separate the two functions, I am free to explore the content without worrying about sentence structure, word choice, and flow.
  1. Allow for failure. Gasp. Yes, I now make it okay to not write perfectly or every very well. This attitude frees me up to be uninspired while writing. I might write really poorly one day; however, I realize that writing, like most of life, is cyclical and my writing will improve. In addition, every writing session holds value, even if it is just for myself.
  1. Allow for success. Gasp? This sounds odd, but I have found myself fearing success more than I fear failure. By embracing success, I give myself permission to be amazing.
  1. Expect the unexpected. Because writing is creative, I occasionally generate insights that are truly surprising and inspiring. I revel in these moments as they make writing such an adventure and a pleasure.
  1. Emulate the best. I look to other writers to find ways to develop my own style. My favorites currently include Anne Lamott and Daphne Gray-Grant. When I find a format or style that I like, I try it out.
  1. Embrace feedback. I have learned to value the feedback I receive from others. I am often too close to the work to be truly objective. By inviting others to review my writing, I am able to use their expertise and insights in my own work.
  1. Keep learning. I consider learning to be one of the most critical aspects of writing. When I am engaged in new experiences, whether it is reading a new book, taking a class, or visiting a new country, I know that fresh writing will come from it.

Each day when I write, I test my attitudes. If I am having a block it is usually because I have forgotten to embrace one or more of these. Now think about your own practice. What attitudes do you bring to the writing table?

© Lisa M. Evans, Ed.D., has worked in the field of education for over 20 years. She currently lives in Toronto, Ontario and can be reached at levans_grace@yahoo.com

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