We each go through life with filters, or lenses that affect everything we do. As writers, those filters can adversely impact our writing and our careers. These filters are the judgments others have made of us that get scribbled all over our souls. Worse, we let those opinions define us.
It starts early in life when we're learning and trying new things. People call us stupid, or lazy, or any number of things. From then on, when we do anything, create anything, we hold this filter of negative beliefs between us and the world, so no matter what anyone says about how great our work is, we don't believe it because fill in the blank.
The thing is, these negative filters of ours can really stand in the way of our success, and even though we aren't responsible for those first negative opinions, we can change our filters and when we do, our writing is set free.
Free to be exactly what we want it to be, free to be brilliant, free to take us as far as we want to go.
So let's see what we can do about it, eh? Please note that as you work through these exercises, it might bring up some big feelings for you. Make sure you give yourself the time you need, in a safe space, where you can think, remember, and feel. You also might want to repeat these exercises several times, as needed.
First, as I see it, there are four parts to being a writer: the idea factory (pretty self-explanatory), the writer (same!), the editor (that part of you that has to revise and perfect your work), and the agent (the part of your business where you do everything you can to maximize your career).
Your Negative Filter
Think back to your childhood, to the first time you can remember receiving negative feedback, or even no feedback, on something you were proud of.
Think about how that experience made you feel.
For instance, one of my experiences taught me that...
I talk too much
No one wants to hear what I have to say
What I have to say is stupid
Our lives may be filled with times when a negative word gets added to our filter, until we can barely see beyond all the negative things we've come to believe about ourselves.
Write about an experience where your filter got in the way of your success. Think about all four areas of your work—has your negative filter affected all areas or only one?
You can spend as much time (or as little) working through this exercise, but the truth is, this part isn't the most important. What's most important comes next...
Changing Your Filter
Take a look at this list of positive attributes. Don't overthink this, and don't spend too long on it—just let the words pop out to you. Choose one to three words that resonate with you.
Of the words you chose, pick the ONE word that stands out the most. Using that one word, imagine how your experience coming up with ideas, as a writer, as an editor, and as an agent, might be different with a positive outlook.
Imagine how your negative experience might have been different if you were *insert positive characteristic*.
Some words are more powerful than others, and it might take many positive words to eliminate one negative one. Some negative beliefs will never go away. But if we can change our filter, so we’re seeing the world and our abilities, through a mostly positive filter, how might your career be different? How much success, and therefore joy, might you be free to experience?