In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin suggests we shouldn't be afraid to use our best ideas. It may be our tendency to want to save them, but instead we should trust we will get more and better ideas. Rubin says, "Spending out, to become rich."
I admit, thinking and acting and speaking positive words takes practice. My husband and I went to a success-building seminar with T. Harv Eker several years ago. One of his little tricks for positivity was to thank the universe for any money that came his way — even if it was only a penny he saw lying on the sidewalk. I can still hear Eker's words every time I see a bit of change lying around. "I am a money magnet. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
This may seem extreme, but in this world where gunmen are walking into our schools and our nightclubs, I think it takes some extreme measures to foster an ongoing positive attitude.
The truth is, you are more likely to take action when you're feeling hopeful than hopeless, and who wants to feel hopeless, anyway, even if there may be good reasons for it in our world? There is a connection between positivity and creativity because, if you don't believe anything good and beautiful and valuable is going to come from your art, why would you work at it?
Another trick I learned from a friend of mine, when some fact or memory eludes me, is never to say, "I can't remember." Instead, he told me to say, "It'll come to me." Or "I will figure this out." I regularly apply this to my writing, and surprisingly, it always works.
Start here: Believe you will come up with the ideas and answers you are looking for. Say this out loud. Then harness everything that comes into your path. Speak out new ideas to process them in more than one way. Start your idea with "what if" and speak with excitement in your voice as you say it. Try seeing your new idea in a positive light and see what happens.
I find that faith-filled thinking works better than logical or rational thinking when it comes to creativity. No matter how great you feel your ideas are, a time will come when you will likely second-guess them. Practice suspending your disbelief, in the same way you want readers to do when reading your fiction. Push past your self-doubt and say out loud, "I'm having faith right now that this is a great idea." In the end, pushing past your doubts and working fully through your ideas is the only way you'll really know if they are viable.
Sure, failure is a possibility, but that keeps the tension high and creates excitement. This excitement and tension will leak into your writing, and it reminds me of the tightrope walker Philippe Petit, who walked a tightrope between the Twin Towers in New York in 1974 (which was dramatized in the movie The Walk). Petit saw the tension and possibility of failure while walking a tightrope as an analogy for life. Anything less than that is not really living! Try thinking of your own process of writing in this same light. Be willing to take creative chances.
Always take notice of what is working, and not only of what is not. I have some fantastic critique partners whom I implore to be hypercritical of my work. I'd rather know from them ahead of time what's not working in my stories than from readers once my books hit the shelves.
But I always also ask my critique partners what works best in my stories. When you're working through multiple revisions on a story you've put your heart into, self-doubt will likely hit you often. This is no time to be humble; ask people to point out the positive attributes of your work. You want to give your stories and ideas a fair shake.
They say that when we hear something critical about ourselves, it takes ten positive attributes to make up for it, since we play the negative comment over in our minds again and again. Doesn't this apply to our stories and ideas as well? Ask for the positive, and force your own mind to dwell there as often as you can.
Excerpted from Story Sparks. Copyright ©2017 by Denise Jaden. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.
Denise Jaden, author of Story Sparks and Fast Fiction, fast-drafted her debut YA novel, Losing Faith (Simon Schuster), in twenty-one days during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). More.