Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie was a French psychologist who is famous for his mantra-like affirmation: “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” He believed that repeating this at the beginning and end of each day could influence a person’s unconscious thoughts and lead to greater success.
Creative writers can also use this technique. (Don’t worry, positive affirmations aren’t just for the New Age or hippie set. Any writer can take advantage of this practice without having to wear Birkenstocks or light incense!)
In a field where rejections are a common occurrence, a little positive self-talk can be a valuable tool to stave off self-doubt and fear of failure.
An affirmation is a positive phrase (written in the first person, in the present tense) that states a goal or a truth that you want to impress upon your mind. For example, if you wish to live in the present, consciously, and not dwell on the past or the future, you might use “Be here now.”
The theory is that by clearing your mind and repeating this phrase to yourself out loud, you can create this belief in your conscious mind. A writer might use an affirmation like “I am creative and talented” or “I will keep submitting my work until I am published.”
Some writers use brief quotes from authors who inspire them, while others use highly specific mantras: “Clichés have no part in my writing.”
At the very least, what writer couldn’t use a little pep talk once a day?
How Writers Can Use Affirmations
1. Keep them brief and limited. Focus on one or two phrases until you feel you’ve incorporated them into your psyche. Then you can move on to others.
2. Use the present tense. Instead of “By next year, I will be more famous than Toni Morrison,” focus on today. “I have a special gift with words.” Or “I am evolving as a writer every day.”
3. Don’t lie. Your subconscious will not be receptive to flat-out lies. If you aren’t already on the New York Times list, don’t use an affirmation like “I am a best-selling author.” Try “I am moving toward my goal of writing a great novel.”
4. Practice your affirmations routinely. It can be the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing before you go to sleep. Some people prefer to say them while looking in the mirror; some require solitude and a peaceful frame of mind; and others find that repeating their affirmations during everyday routines (like a commute or a morning walk) helps the practice become automatic.
5. If you do yoga or meditate, this would be an ideal time to incorporate positive thoughts and goals, while your mind is focused.
6. Write down your affirmations. You can post them on your computer, stick them on the bathroom mirror, or carry them with you. The act of writing them down and seeing them in print will help solidify them in your mind.
7. This isn’t a mantra so much as a tip for positive living. Choose positive words when you’re thinking through your everyday tasks. Read more about word choice here.
Here are some examples of positive affirmations specifically for writers:
1. I am a writer. Writing is my art.
2. My writing is strengthened by constructive criticism from others and from myself.
3. Rejection is a valuable part of the process.
4. I am creative. My words flow easily and beautifully.
5. I write every day, with confidence and enthusiasm.
6.I can visualize success, and I have the patience and talent to reach it.
7. I can be a successful writer and a successful (mother/lawyer/cab driver).
8. I can create vivid images and put them down on paper.
9. I am responsible for my own destiny.
10. I am not at the mercy of my muse. I can find inspiration at any time.
When you believe that whatever happens is for your own development and success, nothing can bring you down, and you don’t have to have lived in an ashram to use positive affirmations.
Creating a positive mindset will not only help you achieve your goals as a writer—it’s a powerful strategy for all areas of your life! Why not use all the tools at your disposal? Your writing will thank you.