NEGATIVE ENERGY: 
A Writer's Nemesis
Kristi Gold © 2002

So that little devil has recently appeared on your shoulder. You know the one. He delights in telling you that you're a fraud, you have no talent, you'll never get published, you'll never sell another book. We've all encountered him at some point in our career and at times his arrival coincides with unavoidable life circumstances. But more often than not, he originates deep within us and feasts on our insecurities and fear of failure. We invite him to enter our lives, and when he accepts, he brings with him negativity that will threaten to suck the very life out of our creativity. But he doesn't stop there. If we allow him free rein, he can affect not only the way we view ourselves but also the way others view us.

Granted, this business of writing for publication isn't always the proverbial bed of roses. It can be tough, it can be challenging. It can destroy our confidence. It can make us want to walk across the floor on our behinds. But the world is full of negative situations and negative people without adding kindling to the bonfire by sabotaging our own positive energy. And we all have the capability of being positive, even during tough times. It takes commitment, and it takes practice.

So how do you rid yourself of this nuisance negativity demon? Here are a few things that have worked for me. I believe they can work for anyone.

Two or more negatives don't make a positive. In other words, don't surround yourself with negative people. Of course, they can't always be avoided, but you have the power to turn away from their negative aura with your own positive spin, even if they claim to be your friend. True friends support and uplift, encourage and praise, not bring you down with their penchant for being naysayers. Be honest and let them know that you're uncomfortable with their non-stop negativity. If that doesn't help, limited exposure might. This is not to say you should shun someone if they're having a bad day. But if that's all they seem to have… well, you might want to take a break, especially if it starts to work on your positive attitude.

Don't project a negative image. In this business, published or not, image is extremely important. How you present yourself today could greatly affect your career tomorrow. A positive outlook will follow you throughout your journey. A poor me-the-glass-is-half-empty attitude will as well. Oh, it might garner some sympathy in the beginning, but if it remains a constant in your public persona, the harm it will do greatly outweighs the temporary benefits of garnering some sympathy. It is safe to assume that colleagues and industry professionals-those all-important editors and agents-tune in to those who are optimistic and positive in their dealings. A shiny, happy author is preferable to a Gloomy Gus.

You're basically an introvert, you say? Well, I've personally met some quiet, thoughtful, positive people who've never had a negative thing to say, especially in a public forum. You don't have to be loud and gregarious to put out those upbeat vibes. If you're the kind of person who carefully measures your words, you'll be surprised at how many people are drawn to you IF the things you do and say are encouraging and optimistic. Extrovert, introvert, it doesn't matter as long as you treat negative thoughts as tiny little fires that need to be snuffed out, and for goodness' sake, put them out before they reach your mouth and escape as unconstructive comets.

Consider those who seem to always be high-energy and optimistic. Chances are, they have bad days, too. They might even have horrible days when they'd prefer to stay in bed or do anything but write. What sets them apart? Attitude, plain and simple. Somewhere along the way they have come to realize that playing at being positive lends itself to actually having positive things happen as a result. Others tend to migrate to this type because they're just plain pleasant to be around. Remember, positive energy is contagious.

Consider those who seem to always be high-energy and optimistic. Chances are, they have bad days, too. They might even have horrible days when they'd prefer to stay in bed or do anything but write. What sets them apart? Attitude, plain and simple. Somewhere along the way they have come to realize that playing at being positive lends itself to actually having positive things happen as a result. Others tend to migrate to this type because they're just plain pleasant to be around. Remember, positive energy is contagious.

If you're normally a positive person who's encountered a long bout of negativity, maybe it's time to step back and reassess, try to reclaim the passion for writing that you had in the beginning. Realize that you are human, that you're going to have down times, and do something you really enjoy aside from writing, at least for a while. Could be that you rediscover exactly why you can't do anything but write. Most important, don't feel guilty for taking a break to regroup. Own your feelings and don't make excuses because you believe others will think less of you. If they do, run away. Chances are, they're too negative. And share your feelings with positive, supportive people, but don't expect them to hold your hand or kick your butt back into gear. Your career is your responsibility, and so is your attitude. It doesn't hurt to be around positive people as long as you leave your negativity behind. Maybe you'll absorb some of that enthusiasm by osmosis. Sure beats the heck out of entertaining a nasty little red guy with a pitchfork. k.g.

 

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