In my therapy practice I spend a lot of time teaching teens to view things in different ways. This can be as basic as asking them to see drug use from their parents' perspective to completely restructuring the way they view the world around them and their interactions with it. Aaron Beck and his buddies dubbed this intervention "Cognitive Restructuring". Modern therapists call it "reframing."
But it isn't just a trick for shrinks. Writers do this all the time. Heck, that's pretty much what dystopian is all about: changing the way we view the world and all its possible futures. It's what great books do when they touch readers long after the book gathers dust on their shelves. My personal favorite author based an entire book about exactly this concept:
“Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.”
~~Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
When we change the way we see things, the things we see change. As writers, we want to do this for our readers, but how often do we do this for ourselves?
From my own experience as a young writer, not nearly enough. It's easy to see the path to publication as treacherous. We hear all the time about how few people actually get agents compared to the number of queries sent, and how many of those agented writers ultimately fail at hooking the big six...erm...five. Oh yeah, and there's that whole thing, too. Heck, less than twenty percent of writers who participated in this month's Pitch Madness contest made it to the agent round.
There are days when I just want to sit on the couch, eat bacon, and fret--
The thing about wallowing is there's not much good about it. It's not fun. It's not productive. And it doesn't solve the problem.
While reframing in and of itself doesn't solve anything, it makes it a hell of a lot easier for you to begin to fix the things that will ultimately make you a better writer. Learning to see the positives in our toughest writing moments not only help us handle them better, they help feel confident handling the tougher moments that we'll face as we move forward. And that's reframing at its finest.
I touched on this briefly on the last All the Feels post about blog contests. On my personal blog, I did a Thursday's Children about why I sometimes look forward to rejection.
Side note: If you're a sucker for blog contests (or an unagented writer) there's some big news coming to my blog on Thursday, so you will want to check that out, k? K. :)
Here are some other reframing re-motivators I use when writing time gets tough.
~A personalized rejection is better than a form rejection, but a form rejection is better than no response.
~One rejected query ultimately means that agent is not the right champion for your book. Not that your book sucks.
~A personalized rejection means the agent was invested enough in your story to tell you how you can make it better--which means YOU CAN make it better.
~You will not become a better writer by instantly getting what you want.
What are some ways you've turned negative thoughts about the writing journey into positives?