With so much talk of medals and Olympians I thought I would talk a little about drive and mental stamina. How to think yourself to success.
Success is a mental state.
I have talked here a lot about developing your skills in writing, the approaches to submissions, having an editor etc, all the things that help you grow and be better writers. I’ve talked about how to be professional in your approach, to follow the rules to have success in publishing. And I’ve talked about how you measure that success, and that success is in the mind of the believer. The goal posts depend on what you want. Not everyone wants Gold, right? Or perhaps I ought to say one man’s Gold is another man’s Tin?
Failure is also a mental state. So if you’re feeling down, you’ve had another rejection, switch your mindset. Say thanks for the rejection, I’m a step closer to acceptance. I will learn from the failure. You learn more from failure in fact. Now see yourself winning, imagine how you’d feel when the email or the letter comes that says yes! Hold that feeling and believe the one that says no, actually says yes. Do it now.
Are you doing it?
Imagine having the one thing you want most in the world, right now.
Congratulations. You have now started attracting success and the tools you need to make that happen. Think as a winner.
If you want to be a winner, you have to think like one. Wallowing never won Gold.
Sorry, lecture over!
Does all this sound a lot like what we hear these Olympians talk about?
- Passion and self-belief
- Drive to succeed
- Endless practice
- Never give up, if at first you don’t succeed
- Visualise yourself winning …
Also apt for writers too I would say, right?
Well I think the mindset of success is universal in whatever field you want to achieve in. And it certainly counts for writers. And how you measure that, be it someone with a disability taking a single step or winning Gold in the 100 metres, be it getting a little piece about you in the local paper or hitting the bestseller list, it’s all about having a need, defining a strategy and realising the dream, however big or small. And celebrating each success along the way; that’s important too, the feeling of winning sets up more feelings of winning. Attract to yourself more of what you feel. So don’t feel like a loser!
In writing it’s easy to become too protective, too precious about work and not share it with the world, especially when you start. If your goal is to write just for you, you have achieved your Gold. But if, like most, having something to say means wanting someone to listen, and what if actually it’s to have a million people to listen and you want to win the Orange Prize, or have Hollywood make your novel into a movie, you start moving goalposts and now this becomes your Gold.
The reality is that it’s one in a million becomes the J K Rowling, E L James, Stephen King … household names. But it could be YOU. However, there are hundreds of thousands of successful published novelists, some with agents, many on mid lists and yes they make their living as a writer … but most are not household names. But being able to do what you love to do as your job is already Gold, right? But if you see this as Silver or Bronze and strive for Gold you have to work at it, and keep working at it. Gold is what you want it to be, don’t chase Fool’s Gold. Know what you want and put in places all the things that will make it happen. Okay, lecture wasn’t over. Think of me as your writing coach. I am in your corner. I want you to win.
While you hear from time to time of fluke overnight successes, I think you’d find most are not as flukey or overnight as you’d think they are. But even if they are, longevity is another great measure, fluke might be more synonymous with one-hit wonders? But it doesn’t matter what other people do, this is your life, right here, right now. And you can’t factor in fluke and luck, you have to put in the hard work, just the same as those athletes.
I’ve heard of writers who have written one novel. And maybe it’s not a bad novel but everyone rejects it. What should they do? Well if the goal is Gold then rework it, get some critiquing and perhaps resubmit. If it gets rejected again (by lots) then move on, at some point. It’s a hard one to call. But I have heard of people who don’t believe it’s not good and keep trying to sell the same MS over and over and never get better, never reworking it. You have to keep writing to be as good as you can be. Same as those athletes. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Nothing is wasted because it’s part of learning.
You can sit back and wait for an agent to call you out of the blue … because he might remember your novel you sent 2 years ago because something is happening in the news that jogs his memory, but really? Even if you believe that will happen and visualise it and say it will, will it? Perhaps the universe will send you coaches and teachers and mad writers who write writing Blogs like this one. What you need is all around you, look. Waiting for the agent to remember, isn’t that like sitting in a field and waiting for a plane to fall on your head? It could happen, but … now I’m not a betting person, but …
No, you need the drive to keep at it. And if it is your passion and you love it, you will. Of course you will. How could you not? And you decide on what you want your Gold to be.
Then go for it. Keep at it. Don’t focus on anything but Gold. But be receptive to criticism and know rejection comes with it. Visualising success doesn’t tell you how it will happen. Look for the signs and act on them. You have the power!
Using those Olympians as role models is no bad thing. They’ll teach us all a thing about mental stamina, drive and success.