Writers: Attitude Isn’t Everything

I talk a lot about having a positive attitude about the writing life, but your attitude isn’t everything.

There’s no doubt about the power of a positive outlook–I would be the first to say so. Dealing with your self-doubts and writing fears is critically important. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking it will substitute for other things.

At writing workshops I meet new writers who have the most positive expectations about their future careers. I have envied some of them actually! But then I probed a bit deeper and found something that may well derail those writers’ dreams.

What a Positive Attitude Can’t Do

  • Having a hopeful and cheery  attitude about your writing won’t matter if you’re not competent at handling words and basic English grammar. You need those skills! If you don’t have them, study or attend classes until you acquire them.
  • Are you actually writing and developing your craft? If you’re a fiction writer, are you working on character development, how to write believable dialogue, and plotting? If you write nonfiction, are you working on your research and querying skills? (And no, contrary to what you might hear, blogging or journaling doesn’t count because it rarely builds actual necessary skills other than the habit of daily writing.)
  • Attitude won’t change the facts in your life. Fact: you have three children under the age of four and are the primary caregiver. A positive attitude won’t change that. Instead, you must incorporate that fact into your writing plans. (Write in snippets of time. Write about your experiences for parenting magazines and e-zines.) Thinking positively that today you’ll have three hours alone to write is just a fantasy.
  • A positive attitude won’t substitute for change. Time runs out after a while. There comes a time when you have to stop dreaming about the writing life you want to lead, complete with visualizations and an illustrated wish book. There comes a time to actually start living the writing life. (Keep an idea file. Join a critique group. Write daily or almost daily. Learn to do market study–even if you detest it.) Unless you take concrete steps to actually live the writer’s life, all the positive attitudes in the world won’t help.

Go One Step Further

Never stop having a positive attitude! It’s vital. But as writer and leadership expert John Maxwell says,

“Attitude fills us with hope that we might reach our dreams. But hope apart from action falls flat.”

Definitely KEEP your attitude positive. I don’t mean to negate that in any way. But take definite steps to put a foundation under your attitude so that your dreams really do come true.

So…what is one small step you can take today to move your hopes to the next level?

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2 Responses to Writers: Attitude Isn’t Everything

  1. Heather says:

    Great post, Kristi. I’m sort of addicted to checking my e-mail, but I really needed to get moving with a project today and knew I would go off course by starting my day online. I have a great program that shuts off the internet while I write, so I used it this morning. Amazingly, there were no earth-shattering e-mails when I finally logged in, and I got a ton of writing done! So I guess I need more butt-in-chair time without e-mail to get my career on the right path.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Heather, it took two days for your message to show up….sorry! WordPress seems to have “issues” this week. But thank you for the comment about the program you’re using to block the Internet. Which one do you use? I may try that because sometimes I just need to use my newer computer that has Internet on it, instead of the old slow laptop, but it is such a black hole for time!

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