Slaying the Negativity Gremlins, Or, Staying Positive, Patient, and Persevering

Negativity gremlins are a nasty lot. Things are going fine, then bam! They’re on you, biting and tearing away your confidence and happy thoughts. You quickly go from: “I’m great at what I do! I have what it takes! Everything is up from here!” to: “What was I thinking? Why did I ever think I could do this? This manuscript sucks! Maybe I should just quit.”

We’ve all been there, as artists, as writers. Sometimes it comes in “spells” possibly related to the weather and other life events, other times it’s brought on by rejection letters or dashing of great hopes.

How do we take hope? What can help us slay those gremlins – which also tend to reduce creativity and productivity – and get on with being happy, well-balanced individuals on the path to success?

First, sometimes it helps to identify why you’re down. Was it a rejection letter?

Here are five reasons to celebrate a rejection letter (seriously!):

  1. You’ve been submitting; this takes courage. Congratulations!
  2. Was the reply quick or slow? This may give some indication how working with this agency / editor will be.
  3. Was it a bad form letter? Perhaps this group wasn’t for you. Now you know.
  4. Was it personalized? Suggestions? You can learn from this. If they cared enough about the work to offer suggestions, this is very good.
  5. Think how much happier you’ll be when you get the Call because of all these rejections. You’re one step closer!

Not a rejection letter? Hmm, back to the hunt. Here are a few general gremlin hunting and slaying tricks:

  1. Identify why the gremlins appeared. Did someone say something? Did you have a bad day? Are you tired? Was there a specific trigger you can avoid or deal with?
  2. Tell someone else about it, let someone else comfort you. Sometimes when the gremlins are firmly entrenched, we can’t see past them. Let someone else help you to do so. Tell a friend, share and rely on supportive writing groups – these make great gremlin-slayers.
  3. Do something that makes you happy – even if it means stepping away from writing for a little while. What brings you joy? Joy and happiness are to gremlins what sunlight and stakes are to vampires – use these weapons often.
  4. Focus on the positive until positive thoughts drown out the negative gremlins. You can also use these positive thoughts to attract positive things. Just as misery and gremlins like parties, so too do happy thoughts and happy events. Set the seeds of happiness in your head for happiness in your life.
  5. If nothing else works, try to remember: this too will pass. A bit clichéd, perhaps, but for a reason: those who persevere, will succeed … even if it does take awhile. Brighter days are ahead!

If nothing else, whatever you do, DO NOT GIVE UP!

Five reasons to persevere and keep writing:

  1. If you give up, you’ll never succeed. If you keep going, you WILL succeed.
  2. Remember rejections are part of this career; they aren’t personal.
  3. You have a story to tell. Tell it. Only you can.
  4. You are a writer. You must write.
  5. Why did you start writing? Remember that joy, keep it, and keep going.

How do you slay your negativity gremlins? Please share – we all need new tricks to do so every so often. Below, I’ll leave you with a great quote about writing from Winston Churchill.

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him to the public.”

-Winston Churchill






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