Positive Thoughts for Writers: 10 Powerful Ways to End the Hurt

Positive Thoughts for Freelance Writers. Makealivingwriting.comGot a question for you: When’s the last time you cut yourself a break, as a freelance writer? If you’re all smack-talk and no compliments when you look in the mirror, I have some positive thoughts I’d like you to adopt.

It’s time to give yourself the same level of loving care you’d give any struggling stranger on the street.

That’s right — it’s time to practice self-compassion.

It’s a classic paradox that writers are commonly sensitive people, yet we’re also often very hard on ourselves.

Sound familiar?

If that’s you, it’s time to change course and practice self-compassion. Honestly, stop torturing yourself! #justwhy

Life’s too short to spend your precious moments beating up on yourself. Too short to dwell on negative thoughts about what you haven’t done, or how much you need to improve your speed or your craft.

Consider self-compassion a productivity shortcut. When you feel better about yourself, it’s easier to sit down and get the writing done.

How can you practice self-compassion and get the positive thoughts flowing? I’ve boiled down my top 10 self-care tips into a handy infographic you can download and keep:

Tips for Self Compassion When You're Trying to Write

Get a free printable version of this infographic.

1. Do things that feel good

Remember to look up from your computer each day, and find something in the 3-D world that gives you joy.

That thing could be listening to a favorite song, watching a hummingbird out the window, a quick call to a friend, or maybe a favorite rock you like to hold.

Give yourself 5 minutes to just BE. (Have you noticed they call us human BEings, not human doings?) Take a few moments for pure happiness. You deserve it.

2. Stop pushing yourself to be perfect

If there’s one myth I wish I could end about freelance writing, it’s that all the other writers have achieved perfection. You know, they never turn in a draft with a typo.

They effortlessly and quickly produce their client work and do their marketing. Or they never screw up. Only you do that.

As one of the writers some people seem to think never have a bad day, I can assure you it’s a fantasy. Realize that no writer functions at an ‘optimal level’ — or at least, they don’t all the time.

You’re not perfect, either. So what? No lives were lost due to your mistakes, right?

If you make a regular effort as a writer, you’ll continue to improve. Let that be enough.

3. Find healthy activities you enjoy

Too many writers neglect their health and never move from their desks, except to hit the fridge, TV, or bed. Don’t let this be you — it’ll really shorten your lifespan.

Good self-care begins with a commitment to move at least a little, every day. Walk, bike, hike, swim, stroll… do whatever you enjoy. I’ve always done this with walks, but recently added about 35 miles a week of biking to my schedule. I can report that WOW, I’m much more productive, relaxed, focused, and sleeping better, too!

If you have a disability that makes it hard to move around, do whatever you can do. Yoga, deep breathing, and stretches will help, too. Do what you can to keep your cells thriving.

4. Respond to your needs

To practice self-compassion, you need to be in touch with how you’re doing emotionally. Take a moment at the start of your day to assess your energy level. How’re you doing today?

If your current energy level isn’t a match for the demanding task of writing, maybe start with one of the activities listed in the other points here, to help raise your energy before you try to write.

Forcing yourself to sit down to the keyboard when you’re in no emotional state to be focused on writing is a waste of your time. Like they say on the airlines, you need to put on your oxygen mask first, before you can help others with your words.

Don’t let this turn into procrastination. But know that a few minutes devoted to getting you in a good head space, if that’s what needs to happen, will usually set you up for a more productive writing day.

5. Try a little kindness

When something goes wrong with your writing — do you beat up on yourself about it? OK, you had a typo, missed a deadline, or wrote a piece that didn’t live up to your full potential.

If the error was made by someone else, you’d probably tell them, “It’s OK — we all make mistakes.” Or “I’m sure you’re doing the best you can.”

Well, guess what? You deserve that basic kindness, too.

Acknowledge that what you’re trying to do is hard. If it were easy, everyone would quit their day job today and be a freelance writer. Right? Practice kindness, and tomorrow, get up and try again.

6. Eliminate negative self-talk

If I could only give ONE tip in this post, this would be it. In my years working one-to-one with writers in my writing-business coaching program, I’ve noticed that many writers casually and routinely make negative comments about themselves.

Do you find yourself saying things like this?

I’m so slow — sorry it’s taking me so long.

I know so many other writers who’ve achieved more, I’m so behind.

I just don’t know if I’m good enough.

If any of that sounded familiar, it’s time to pop that negative tape out of your brain and record a new one. Instead of put-downs, create affirmations you can look at each day.

Build yourself up, and you’ll approach your writing with more confidence. That might sound weird or goofy, but try it out — you may be amazed at how it improves your writing. For instance, instead of the thoughts above, you could instead say:

The speed I’m going is right for me. I’m exactly where I’m meant to be in my journey.

Comparing myself to others isn’t productive or healthy. I’m making progress compared to where I was last year.

I know that even if my writing isn’t perfect, there are clients who need me, who can’t write well.

Don’t you feel better already?

Hunt and kill your negative self-talk, and you’ll take a big step toward being a better writer. Because nobody can write well with a crap-ton of negativity floating around.

7. Be mindful

Consider having a brief check-in at the start of your day. How’s your energy level?

Don’t ignore your feelings. Maybe you need to shake things up today to lift your mood — write in the park or at a Starbucks, or stretch for 15 minutes before you sit down to write.

Or maybe circling negative thoughts are paralyzing you into inactivity. If so, think on those feelings, acknowledge them, and then…let them go. Try to clear your head and release toxic thoughts, so you can move forward with your day.

If you need help developing a mindfulness practice, YouTube is a bountiful resource for ideas and exercises.

8. Stop judging

Do you bang a mental gavel and go all judge-y on yourself, when you’re not getting the writing done, or don’t like what you produce?

If you sentence yourself to the title Suckiest Writer Ever for all eternity over ever minor mistake… stop.

Try to resist the urge to judge yourself a failure, a loser, too slow, not gifted enough. Remember, as long as you live, hope remains that you can improve. There’s no final verdict possible, yet.

Letting go of judgements means you can stop labeling yourself and adding to that negative self-talk chatter I just mentioned above. Now, you’re free to soar.

9. Consider our common humanity

Writing is a lonely craft. Especially for freelance writers, who usually toil at home. It’s you and the keyboard, all day every day.

But you’re not alone, really. You are part of a vast, global tribe of people who are trying to take their destiny in their own hands.

If you feel isolated and alone, consider all the other writers who’re struggling to get their thoughts down, at the very same time you are. All flawed human beings trying their best — just like you.

10. Practice forgiveness

Here’s a crazy idea: After you screw up, consider simply forgiving yourself and moving on.

Not just saying a quick ‘OK, I forgive’ to yourself, but truly letting it go. So it’s gone — completely erased from your accounting of yourself, as if it never happened.

If necessary, decide on a change you’ll do in the future that will help prevent this error from happening again.

For instance: Didn’t meet a deadline? Vow to back up your own internal deadlines by a day or two next time.

Or if you perhaps were rude to an editor, go ahead and extend an apology. Make amends. Then, forgive and move forward with a clean slate.

Positive thoughts lead to better writing

Is it worth taking the time to work on your head game, and turn negative thoughts into positive ones? Absolutely.

The number-one problem most freelance writers have isn’t the collapse of print magazines, or the rise of the global marketplace, or a recession, or anything like that.

The chief problem lies between your ears.

Change how you think about your freelance writing talent, and you could just change everything — from how much you produce and how quickly, to the quality of clients you pursue and land.

Believing in your skills will get you far. Try it and see.

What positive thoughts do you use to help you write? Let’s discuss in the comments.

–Points adapted for writers from Dr. Kristin Neff’s self-compassion.org site, and the work of Jasmin L. Cori, MS LPC

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15 comments on “Positive Thoughts for Writers: 10 Powerful Ways to End the Hurt
  1. @Indreshraja says:

    Hi Carol,
    Great thoughts. These all are helpful i also tried most of them and they helps alot.

  2. Emily says:

    Remembering that the more established and “expert” people in my field are just as human as me is both the hardest and most helpful thought to hold onto some days. I really appreciated all of these points.

    • Carol Tice says:

      We do tend to put other people on pedestals, right?

      I had the great luck to be a secretary at the William Morris Agency in my early twenties, and learned that movie stars also are just people who eat the lunch truck, just like me. Has always helped me see that anyone can move up. Glad you found this post helpful, Emily!

  3. Elizabeth Westra says:

    Thanks for the positive thoughts. You came at just the right time, and the sun is shining here after a windy, chilly, wet day yesterday. This post is like a burst of sunshine. I’m going to print it and post it on my wall, so I’ll see it all the time.

  4. Nice post, and I especially concur with point #3. Exercise, physical exercise, is so critical to healthy mental functioning. The older I get the more I realise how the ‘split’ between mental and physical bodily functioning isn’t really a split at all – they’re intimately connected. If I go a few weeks without exercise I notice mood and cognitive decline. Get running!

  5. Bosede says:

    Thank you so very much. I really needed to remind myself that I am not in the wrong place. Writing is me, it is who I am. Unfortunately, due to some of what you have described above, I have never been able to make a dime out of writing…Nothing at all. When I see other people’s works, I just throw in the towel and no longer have the energy to write for a living. I still write my fictional works even though school is hectic but I desire to make a living with my writing. I hope to try harder this coming holiday.

    Thank you for bringing genuine laughter out of me, especially your conclusion on negative self-talk. God bless you Ma’am.

    • Carol Tice says:

      You’re welcome! Negative self-talk is the WORST. Why are we all so hard on ourselves? Hope this infographic gets saved and people try to change their views.

      If you’re still in school, I would assume you have a long life ahead of you — and as long as you’re alive, you can keep learning and improving your craft, and learning how to market your writing and find paying clients. Right?

  6. Linda H says:

    Needed to hear this today.

    I struggled for years with negative self-thoughts and never thought I was good enough. Procrastination and self-sabotage were rampant. I knew I was wrong but negative self-thoughts paralyzed me. Then I got sick and had to retire completely. Now, I’m healed enough physically to work, and I want to.

    During a non-writing related event I got a very negative email from a family member that crucified me. And I knew he was wrong–completely wrong. That was enough to stop the self-negative talk.

    Recently I heard myself starting the negative self-talk. But I stopped myself and said, “I AM good enough. I wrote successfully before I got ill. I CAN DO THIS.” And I’ve started.

    Thanks for posting this. I’m beginning to look at the Pitch Clinic, look for clients, think of new ideas and set some goals. I WILL get this done and this infographic will be posted in my room for daily encouragement. I’m looking for new markets, new ideas, and great success.

  7. Olivier says:

    Thank you Carol for sharing your insights. Much appreciated. I’m happy to see that I’m putting already many of them into practice. Have a good day

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Isn’t funny you wrote similar insights I used when writing for a client. I wish I had read this before, it could have helped me to simplify my writing. Anyway, great insights you have here. Forgiving, thanking, and loving yourself are most important to work on our progress barriers, negative thoughts and emotions.

    Thanks Carol

  9. Surekha Galagoda says:

    Hi Friends
    My biggest and only positive thoughts are my my religion, children and crafting. You know as writers Time management is crucial.
    I always pray before starting a writing project hand over everything to God and ask his divine guidance. Once i had to do a translation and i just committed it to God and oh man i dont know how i did it but it was perfect.
    When i have a lot of projects on hand and have to meet deadlines and if i am tired i just think of my children ie my daughter and grand daughter and go on and i just get my energy back.
    The other source is my crafting. I craft as a hobby and also join blog hops. So between my writings i take a break to comment on a creation, take part in a blog hop or watch a video and believe me it is so refreshing.The crafters around the world are a lovely bunch of people who pick pieces for me when i am down. I am blessed to be among them always.
    Blessings to all
    Surekha Galagoda

    • Carol Tice says:

      I like all these suggestions, Surekha! I sometimes do adult coloring to get relaxed and focused.

      • Surekha Galagoda says:

        Dear Carol
        my daughter engages in adult coloring but i never attempted it as i suck at coloring and drawing but of late i am taking baby steps in that area as i want to improve my crafting. I am also learning how to take gd pix and use the computer more efficiently. I never bothered with thoe aspects as my husband was a very gd photograher and a real techchie. i lost him to a liver cancer three years ago and now i have to learn it to give a better craft.
        On a personal note i am over the moon today as my daughter got all A passes at her final assessment. my daughter and 7 year old grand daughter are in NZ i join them when i can or i am in Sri Lanka with my mother and sister. She works as a chef, keep house and studied too while looking after the girl.I earn and send all the money for their upkeep but i am happy that i do it. from end of this week she is going for full time employment. God is good. May you and your family be blessed with gd health and happiness always