It’s a funny thing about words – a little bit of positive reinforcement or a little bit of negativity go a long way. People remember the harsh things said to them or about them. And while we tend to more quickly forget the positive words, their power continues to work within us.
When a friend told me she loved the first five chapters of my new book that I sent her, and when am I going to send her more, I felt like the sun came out and it was raining rainbows! If I get to a place in the story where I’m not feeling good about myself and my abilities, I think about what this friend or that friend said about something they liked and I feel better. And when I feel better, I write better.
The same is true when someone tells me, don’t worry, that was hard for me, too. I feel like I can breathe again. I was telling a friend who is a very fast runner (he ran a 14km race last year in under an hour, while it took me two hours) that I was embarrassed by how out of shape I’d gotten during the last month of grad school. I’d barely gotten in one run per week and in only a month had lost a ton of the progress I’d made.
He told me, oh, that happens to everyone when you get out of your training schedule, and he gave me some examples. I couldn’t believe it. I thought those professional athletes were born that way – fast and ready to go.
Later I thought about how that thinking translates in my writing life sometimes. I think some writers are just born ready. They write brilliant stories, have a big fan base, make plenty of money – and it’s magical. But they weren’t born that way. They have the same kinds of bad days that I do. There was once a time they weren’t making a dime. They need encouragement from their friends and fans just like I do.
My friend Laura Drake just signed with an agent – yay! I was so excited for her that I asked her to be a guest on my blog today and tell us her story. I thought she was going to write about the specifics of getting that call and how exciting and scary and unbelievable it was. But what she wrote was so much more encouraging than a slice of a success story. You really have to come read it. Talk about encouraging words!
I had a bad run this morning – slow, exhausting, cold (it’s winter here in Sydney), and altogether awful. The only good thing was that I kept going. It occurred to me about three-quarters of the way through my 11km that I should focus on the good part – the fact that I wasn’t going to give up. Then I happened to notice that the sunrise was gorgeous. And the people I usually wave at were waving at me first. And the birds were having a little music festival. And after a while I realized that even on bad days, there are lots of things to be grateful for and smile about.
I hope you find your encouragement today. And if you’re not seeing it right away, give some encouragement to someone else. It’s bound to come back to you and bless your day.
Kitty Bucholtz is a writer and speaker, and a member of Romance Writers of America and Romance Writers of Australia. She co-founded Routines for Writers, a web site dedicated to helping writers write more, and she recently completed her M.A. in Creative Writing. You can follow Kitty on her web site or on Twitter at @KittyBucholtz.
Aw, thanks for the kind comments, guys! It's amazing how much easier it can be to stay upbeat and positive, through good times and bad, when we're surrounded by people who can lift us up when we need it, and whom we can lift up in return.
I thank God I get to have all of you in my life! 🙂
on August 10, 2011
And Kitty, I've been having a challenging week, and you just made it better, by reminding me of the important stuff.
Your happiness is all about where you focus isnt' it?
Thanks for the reminder – I needed that!
on August 10, 2011
Kitty, it always pays to keep the kind words close.
And I'm so thrilled for Laura Drake!
on August 9, 2011
This field of "writing" is such a supportive one. I don't ever hear authors being jealous of another's success or "the call." Instead, we all re-joyce a bit. Thanks for sharing the encouragement.
on August 9, 2011
Kitty, your blog made me smile. How true that we focus on our own difficulty, but don't see what others are facing. You're right, too, that those bits of encouragement should be kept close, so we can be reminded during the hard moments. Thanks for sharing.