How to Cultivate a Writing Mindset

It’s January and we’re all thinking about resolutions, figuring out where we want to go and how we’re going to get there. I’m here to help you do that with your writing. Remember last week when I encouraged you to spend some time exploring the kind of writer you want to be? If you haven’t done that yet then go back and read last week’s post first (it’s here). Once you have an idea of the kind of writer you want to be then we can get started.

Being a writer who actually writes isn’t just something that you do, it’s a way of thinking about yourself.

We’re going to do this differently. Forget everything you know about setting goals and resolutions. Instead of thinking about the writer you want to be as a far away, I’ll-probably-never-get-there goal let’s see if we can turn it into a more practical this-is-something-I-am-becoming reality. Confused? What I’m trying to say is being the kind of writer you want to be shouldn’t be a destination that’s always out of reach. Being a writer who actually writes isn’t just something that you do, it’s a way of thinking about yourself.

This kind of change isn’t just about writing more words (though that definitely helps!) Moving from “I wish I was this kind of writer” to “I AM this kind of writer” is mostly something that happens in your head. It’s a way of thinking. So all you have to do is change the way you think about yourself. Sounds easy right? It isn’t. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy.

I am a Writer

When I began to really write I started by telling myself what I wanted to believe, “I am a writer.”

Every day I wrote “I am a writer” at the top of the page. Then underneath it I wrote. At first it felt weird and uncomfortable. Some days it felt inspiring. Other times it made me angry. Finally it just started to feel true. When I started, “I am a writer” wasn’t a true statement. I wanted to be a writer but I hardly ever wrote. Writing those words at the top of the page every day helped me realize that if I wanted to be a writer, I needed to write. Writers write. So I wrote. I practiced becoming a writer until one day, “I am a writer” became a true statement.

Some people call this manifesting and they get really “woo” about it, but there’s nothing mystical or weird about this. It’s a practical, reality-based way of setting a goal and achieving it. It’s a way of practicing something until you get good at it. It’s a way of setting a goal and achieving it that is manageable and doesn’t set you up to fail. This kind of journaling is a simplified version of “future self journaling. Want to know more about this kind of journaling? Check out this article by Dr. Nicole LePera.

Beliefs vs. Resolutions

I’ve said before that I’m not really into resolutions, and I’m not. I know this seems like a resolution but it isn’t. Here’s the difference.

I could have said, “This year I will write 1000 words every day, because I want to be a writer.” That’s a resolution. If I did that I’d be setting myself up to fail. If I write 900 words. I failed. If I don’t write. I failed. Even if I write 1000 words every day for a year, at the end of the year what I’m saying in my head is still “I want to be a writer.” Nothing has really changed. It’s all hustle and no change.

By telling myself “I am a writer” I start to shift what I believe to be true about myself. What I believe about myself changes the way I behave. This kind of statement is much more fluid than a resolution. I can’t fail at “I am a writer.” If I don’t write today I’m still a writer, I’m just a writer who is doing something else right now.

So what I’m encouraging you to do is to cultivate a writing mindset. Think about the kind of writer you want to be and start to think about yourself that way. Do you want to be a writer of children’s fiction? How are you becoming that? What does that feel like? How does that writer behave?

Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you.

As always I’m writing with you,

Laurie

Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

Laurie MacNevin, HF Associate Editor

Laurie is an editor, writer, and researcher. Her deep love of stories led to an Honours degree and a Master’s degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Windsor. Originally from Southern Ontario, Laurie has lived in Manitoba for more than ten years, exploring the stories, landscape, plants, and people of some of the most remote parts of the province including three years in Churchill and two years in God’s Lake Narrows First Nation. Laurie and her family now live on an acreage outside of Carberry.

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