Why You’re a Terrible Writer
Take just a minute to watch this video from YouTube. This is an awareness test. Count how many passes the team in white makes.
How shocking is that?? It’s incredible what we miss when we aren’t looking for it. How can it be that we don’t notice such obvious things happening right in front of us?
Our brains are programmed to home in on the stimuli we tell it to look at, which is exactly why you were able to count 13 passes in the video but missed the moonwalking bear. There is just simply too much stimuli going on around us at any given moments; our brains can’t possible catch it all. They focus wherever we tell them to focus.
This isn’t just the case with our external surroundings, but with our writing too. Our brains see whatever we tell them to see. The term for this is called confirmation bias and it’s the reason you’re a terrible writer.
Simply put—if you think you’re a terrible writer, it’s because you’re telling yourself you are. True to form, your brain is then going and finding the evidence to support your claims. Since your brain is such a high-functioning machine, it finds the evidence no problem (your results). The results then go and further support that initial thought that you’re terrible. It’s a vicious cycle, also referred to as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you tell yourself you’re awful at writing, that’s what you’ll see. But it also works on the inverse—if you tell yourself you’re an awesome writer, that’s what you’ll see.
If you’ve read other posts on this blog, you’ve most likely come across the model. The model is a tool created by Brooke Castillo and it’s a way to see in black and white why you’re getting the results you’re getting. You can also use it to see what a certain thought will eventually create.
Our thoughts create our feelings. Our feelings create our actions. Our actions create our results.
For this example, I’m going to use a self-deprecating negative thought about my writing:
Thought: Writing is too hard. I’ll never get the hang of it.
Action: Procrastinate on writing.
Result: Not get much writing done.
This is a standard negative model—the original negative thought creates a negative feeling. That negative feeling then creates inaction. That inaction leads to a result we don’t want.
But take a closer look at this model. Our result is that we’re not getting much writing done. That unwanted result further fuels the original negative thought, strengthening it and ingraining it into our brain. The more we think that thought, the more discouraged we’ll feel. And the less and less we’ll write. Do you see the cycle happening? That’s confirmation bias in action.
How to Become a Good Writer
Hopefully you don’t roll your eyes at this, but the difference between being a terrible writer and being a great writer starts with your mindset. The model is proof that different thoughts create different results.
But it’s not as simple as just changing from a bad thought to a good thought. Extended time thinking the same self-deprecating thoughts ingrains them deeply in your brain. That means they’ve become beliefs. And to create new beliefs and let go of old ones require time and commitment.
The trick here is to re-route your focus.
Do this 3-part 10-minute prewriting routine every day: 1) thought download, 2) choose one negative thought, 3) pick a better-feeling thought. For a full breakdown of this routine, check out this post.
For part 3, change your focus to a thought that will strengthen your belief in yourself as a writer. If you’re just beginning, don’t pick something that has to do with skill, since skill comes from practice and dedication. Instead pick something in regards to your ambition, motivation, excitement, or consistency.
Here are some examples:
- I’m so excited to become a writer.
- I can choose to be anything I want to be, and I’m choosing to be a writer.
- Writers write. And I’m writing.
- I believe in my heart of hearts that writing is what I’m meant to do.
- Writing is a skill. The more I practice, the better I’ll get.
Seems cheesy? Try to plug one into your model.
Thought: Writers write. And I’m writing.
Action: Write daily.
Result: Build practice of daily writing.
As you can see, this model creates an entirely different result than our first one. You might still believe the negative thought from the first model, but you aren’t focusing on it. When you focus on this new thought, your result will prove the initial thought, just like before. Except this time, it strengthens your positive thought and therefore your positive result.
The Thought—Feeling—Action—Result cycle can be your biggest foe or your strongest tool. A little awareness and deliberate thinking is the difference between living your dream or sitting on the sidelines forever.
Share Your Experience
Have you been finding evidence to support a negative belief? What was it? Share with us in the comments below!