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.
I stay positive by just deciding that I WILL accomplish great things. It’s all about your mindset, right down to the choice of words you use to describe your craft. If you don’t believe in yourself (realistically with a dash of dreaming big), no one else will feel motivated to believe in you either.
It’s nice to see a post like this every now and then. It’s hard not to get discouraged when you get nothing but rejections day in and day out. Thanks for the positive vibes!
I ‘found’ writing after emigrating and to be frank it changed my life. Not only am I extremely fortunate to have a writing group to share with but have found the one thing my life was missing – a passion. If I feel disconnected I read other blogs, connect via social media or drop by a local writing friend. Writing something every day keeps me positive – if I don’t I feel ‘ill’. Personal affirmation is important but also sharing with others brings its own rewards.
Mandy, thanks for the comment! We’re so glad to hear writing has been such a positive influence in your life. Keep your spirits up and never stop writing!
It is hard for me to see how any writer is productive or “successful” without using some positive self-talk. Sometimes the only thing that keeps me going is how much I like what I’m writing and am able to get absorbed with the story, characters, etc. The marketing part, the stuff of rejections, is much harder.
Positive thinking and the Power of Now mindset keeps me sane, grounded in what I’m trying to do today instead of worrying about yesterday or tomorrow; will this book get published? Will it sell? Will anyone ever care? Writing is an act of hope. Hope is something I like to participate in in all aspects of my life. I’ve had some successes and some setbacks and rejections – just keep moving forward. When I focus on the story I’m working on, and how much I’ve grown as a storyteller, I’m energized. Keep harvesting skills, keep planting seeds, keep growing. Mindy Halleck – Seattle, WA
These are all great tips! I have been struggling A LOT lately with sitting down to write anything creative of my own work. I am a business writer, so I write every day but not what I need to in order to fill my own need to paint with words. I find it reassuring that other writers feel the same and relate to my issue. I am a part of a few Facebook writing groups and I find that the encouragement from others in the same boat is often the kick in the pants I need to get things done!
This writer can always use some positive tips, and I thank you for providing them. What I also like to do is use creative visualization along with the positive affirmations. I visualize my readers being positively affected by my writing. It’s a great way to “believe” that it is all worthwhile.
Thanks for the affirmations, they will help me a great deal.
I try to surround myself with people that have a positive attitude. Negativity is everywhere, and must be avoided at all cost!
The process assures the full spectrum of emotions. When I’m in the “now,” glorious zone, I’m convinced there is no place I’d rather be. Conversely, when I’m self critical & slogging through my prose, my mind grabs hold, prompting me to doubt & question my ability & commitment. Staying the course with positive, affirming messages is a practice that will cement one’s place during those murky moments.
I wouldn’t have “Rejection is part of the process” as part of an affirmation, it feels like your expected to be rejected, instead if already rejected you could say “Something bigger and better is waiting for me” or “The universe must have something better in mind for my work”
How do I stay positive? Sometimes I don’t– and then I think about what giving up really entails, and I say to myself “Screw that!” and go on again.
I stay positive by staying in control of my work. That means I learn all I possibly can about self-publishing and about printing companies through lots and lots of research. I keep writing, looking at comparable writing and realizing mine is very good, and continuing to write until I make it excellent. Then I will have it printed, probably in paperback to save money. There will be no one to reject it!
I am very new to writing but my flair and passion is not at all new. Writing is an art in its own right but I still have to master the tricks of the trade. I have looked at as may affirmation as I could and a thread of a truth runs through all of them -never give up on what you believe. I am a writer come thunder or lightning. I am a writer in all the seasons of life. And a life without the variety ushered by seasons would be boring. So failure or not I will still continue to write.
Thank you for this! The past few weeks I have been struggling with trying to write anything. I think these affirmations will help me a lot.