The right outlook makes a big difference during revisions!

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How many July days have you needed to keep a lamp lit the entire day? I clicked the switch on as I entered the family room yesterday morning and turned it out fifteen hours later.  The entire time I needed extra light to keep the day’s grey gloom at bay.

The morning sky slouched into the trees, letting wisps of mist settle between branches. Later the mist became drizzle, and moisture accumulated until it trickled from the deck umbrella.

The forecast for today was no better, and as I planned for this post I contemplated my collection of photos, wondering what might brighten another cheerless day. Perhaps this rhododendron, taken as it basked in Saturday’s sunshine.

But it didn’t reflect the dreary truth, so I grabbed the camera and ventured out into the rain, expecting to capture a soggy, bedraggled bloom to throw onto the page. Instead, I found rain-washed glory, and liquid diamonds.

Raindrops captured in a spider's web

My outlook was typical of my approach to the novel revision that currently bugs me. I’m not pleased with some of the scenes and it’s tempting to think there’s nothing worth salvaging. I mull over them day after day, moody and miserable, convinced the writing is pedantic. I decide the only thing to do is delete the scenes and rewrite from scratch, but when I open the file and take an in-depth look, I discover unexpected gems that are worth saving, bright spots that convince me they belong in the story.

Often, when the Inner Critic is being persuasive about the terrible caliber of our writing, it’s our own perspective that’s skewed. Instead of dwelling on the negatives maybe we need to take a break, adjust our attitude, refocus, and determine to look for the bits of genius (don’t laugh… I’m trying to be positive here) that are worth saving.

Do emotions affect your perception of the quality of your writing? How do you keep your moods in check so you can be more unbiased? Or do you perhaps use your moods to help you colour particular scenes?

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“The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure,
the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season,
and to bless all the work of thine hand.”
[Deuteronomy 28:12a KJV]
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A Vocation or Avocation?

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How we think of ourselves can determine how others think of us.  Our attitude affects our demeanor, and that in turn affects how others respond to us.

What does this have to do with writing? I believe respecting our right to be serious about our writing can determine whether we become known as word dabblers, hobbyists or career writers. (If you’re content to dabble I’ll jump in here to defend your choice because I realize not everyone intends to write full time.) But so often we make excuses for what we do… apologize for the time we spend closeted away with our computers or pen and paper, as if our pursuit is frivolous or perhaps even sinful.

I’ve heard writers claim that it wasn’t until they received payment for their work that they began to take themselves seriously. (Okay, I’ll admit I’ve said that!)  It wasn’t until they considered writing a legitimate form of employment that they felt entitled to set aside a formal workspace, and claim the right to uninterrupted work hours.

As a hobby, writing can be relegated to the leftover moments in our lives, but if it is to be more than that, we have to treat it like the commitment it is, and write… guilt free.

If someone provided you with a homecare worker and an uptown office on the condition that you write there at least four hours a day, would you feel more like “a real writer” than when you sit at the kitchen table and write during junior’s naptime? What does that say about your attitude?

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Finding Failure or Success

Success is a unisex commodity. Don’t we all like the feeling of being considered successful? It’s satisfying to feel in control and be functioning with efficiency, accomplishing what we set out to do.

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The fact is, we don’t always accomplish what we intend. I’ve read that less than 10% of people manage to keep their New Year’s Resolutions, and that by the end of January at least 50% have already failed. With odds like that why would anyone make resolutions at all? Why is failure more common than success?

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I suspect it’s because we make “ought to” resolutions, not “want to” ones, believing that we need to be something we’re not or that we need to accomplish something we previously couldn’t. Discontent is at the heart of many goals. That’s not to say we should never dream or aspire to great achievements in life. I just wonder if maybe we start by trying to fix the wrong things first. It’s so much easier to succeed with a positive attitude than with a negative one.

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But how do we change from seeing a glass half empty to seeing it half full? By not focusing on the container and choosing to examine its contents instead.

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My opinion has always been that a positive attitude has its origin in self-acceptance. If we can accept that as a clay vessel we may not seem worth much by our own standards but we are made practical when we allow God to fill and use us, then our perspective will change.  Only then are we likely to have the necessary motivation to commit to achievable goals.

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Applied to writing, our attitude affects our ability to both create magical words and set practical goals.

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Here’s a challenge for you. Write a list, not of resolutions but of desirable possibilities – things that you could do if you wanted to. Things that are within your control. Now pick just one thing on that list that ignites your enthusiasm. One thing that has the potential to make a difference to you. You need that positive spark to set yourself up for success. Telling someone about it will help cement the commitment so share your idea in the comment section. Saying a prayer for the will to act wouldn’t hurt either. Then make a start. If you believe you can do it, you will.

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Remember, the only person who is sure to fail is the one who doesn’t try.

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