How We Talk To Ourselves About Our Writing

Let us begin with the same quotation from FlyLady that I shared yesterday:

“The voices that you hear in your head keep telling you that you are behind and you have to get it all done now. We are going to quiet those negative voices that are beating you up constantly and replace them with a loving, gentle voice that tells you that you are not behind and you can do this one BabyStep at a time!” ~ FlyLady

Woman in the Mirror, by Ley
Woman in the Mirror (by Ley) via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

How do you talk to yourself about your writing? What words do you use? What tone?

When you write badly or don’t write at all, are you compassionate and patient with yourself, as you would be with a dear friend? Or are you harsh or even cruel, perhaps in ways that you would never speak out loud to anyone else?

When you fall short of meeting a goal or are struggling to adopt a new habit, is your self-talk encouraging? Are you your own best cheerleader? Or is it self-sabotaging? Do your words to yourself undermine your own efforts and intentions?

Simply noticing the chatter in our heads, especially the chatter directed toward ourselves, is an important change we can make on a daily basis to improve not only our writing but our everyday experience. Pausing long enough to recognize the negativity sometimes is all it takes to begin to change the monologue.

When we notice that we are being unkind to ourselves, unsupportive, or unloving, we can then tell ourselves gently to stop. The long-term goal is to begin talking to ourselves more positively, but just noticing and stopping can do wonders at first.

Types of Negative Self-Talk

If you aren’t sure what to listen for in your self-talk or what kinds of self-talk can be harmful, Margaret Moore lists four kinds of negative inner chatter:

Self-limiting talk “puts us in our place” and refuses to recognize potential for growth and success (“I will never finish this novel”). Jumping to conclusions causes us to make unfounded inferences or imagine futures that may never occur (“My friends will think I’m egotistical if I keep a blog”). Habits of speech are simply automatic scripts we replay over and over without thinking (“I’m so stupid”). And we allow other people’s thoughts to become our own when we take the negative or hurtful or unthinking words from family or friends, regardless of whether they were said out of jealousy or some other motive, or whether they are untrue, and repeat them back to ourselves (“My mother was right—who do I think I am, thinking I can be a writer?”).

For the next few days, pay attention to what you say to yourself, especially about your writing. Are you your biggest fan or harshest critic?

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