Can’t Stop Thinking, “I’m Not a Good Enough Writer”? 3 Ways to Make That Negative Nelly Thought Go Away
Does this sound familiar?
“Every time I sit down to write I worry that I’m not good enough and I don’t have anything good to say. I feel like I don’t write very well.”
I’ve chatted with a lot of entrepreneurs in the last few months and this is something I’m hearing over, and over again.
The crazy thing is that you don’t have to be a great – or even good – writer to start blogging.
Think of it this way – would you start training for a marathon by running a marathon? Heck no! You’d start with a 5K or even a 2K and work your way up.
I want you to think about blogging/writing in the same way – you don’t have to be “holy toledo” amazing right off the get-go. You can learn, grow, try, fail, learn some more, and get better with time.
However, I get that while you’re working on your craft you might be dealing with some unwanted negative thoughts – like, “I’m not good enough!” These Negative Nelly thoughts can wreck havoc on your success because they can stop you from going out there and trying in the first place.
To help you overcome this confidence-busting, Negative Nelly hailstorm I’ve got 3 strategies that you can start using today. And no, none of them are “just stop thinking about it” because research suggests that doesn’t work and can actually backfire on you.
So, let’s dive in to what can work…
Don’t just push it away, focus.
The first strategy is similar advice that a good friend might give you. The only difference is that I want to take things a step further.
While your friend obviously has good intentions when she says, “Just stop thinking about it” that’s not super helpful by itself. Unless you have absolute and total control over every thought that comes through your head, trying to just stop thinking about something is super, super hard.
Case in point… Don’t think of a purple elephant. Stop thinking of a purple elephant. Whatever you do, don’t imagine a purple elephant.
See? It’s tough!
So, what do you do instead?
You distract yourself. But not just aimless distraction, focused distraction.
Yes, research suggests you can use distraction as an effective way to stop thinking about thoughts you don’t want to be thinking about – whether the thoughts are about you not being a good writer, or something else.
However, the research also suggests that you can’t just float from distraction, to distraction, hoping you’ll forget about it. You gotta get focused.
Instead of trying to distract yourself with whatever comes to mind, pick one distraction and focus on it.
Strangely enough I’ve unknowingly been doing this for months. Sometimes when I have a, “I can’t do this!” or, “Who am I to do this?!” or any other kind of Negative Nelly moment I have a dance break. I bust out a favourite tune on my Sonos player and just give ‘er. I sing along. I act like a complete fool. My neighbours probably see me in the windows and think I’m crazy pants.
But it works!
I don’t let my mind wander aimlessly, I focus on dancing, singing, having fun, being in the moment. And it works. I’m distracted and the negative thought slides away.
Sure, this doesn’t stop it from coming back altogether sometime later in the day. But it does make me feel better in the moment so I can keep moving forward and get whatever I need to get done, done right now.
Get out of the quicksand and just accept it.
Researchers Marcks and Woods point out that, “Struggling with your [unwanted] thought is like struggling in quicksand.”
And I gotta say, I totally agree! It takes a ridiculous amount of effort to constantly try to push your negative thoughts out of your mind. Every time you think you’ve gotten somewhere, the sand shifts and you’re back where you started.
So, what should you do? Apparently Marcks and Woods’ research suggests you should be more accepting.
They say, “Watch your thoughts. Imagine that they are coming out of your ears on little signs held by marching soldiers. I want you to allow the soldiers to march by in front of you, like a little parade. Do not argue with the signs, or avoid them, or make them go away. Just watch them march by.”
Here’s how I like to relate this to writing – if you think you’re not a very good writer, own that. Accept it.
When I first started doing yoga I was so ridiculously inflexible I could barely reach my shins let alone my toes. Instead of fighting it and saying, “I’m no good at yoga because I’m not very flexible!” I took a different approach. I decided to think of it this way, “I’m not very flexible now, but I’ll keep doing yoga and keep getting more flexible.”
Now I’m inches away from doing the splits (go me!)
This can be you with writing – own that you’re not that good. It’s okay. You won’t be thrown in jail for not being very good (or totally bad) at writing.
The only mistake you can make moving forward is to not do anything about it.
If you wish you were a better writer, make it a priority to become a better writer. Accept where you’re at, and take steps to get to where you wish you could be.
Hire a coach. Take a class. Write every single day.
I know this will help make you feel more empowered and like you are in control of your writing future. And, coming from a total control freak, feeling like you have control is a totally awesome feeling!
Put it all out there on paper.
You know that feeling you get after you have a really great workout? That, that-was-so-awesome-I-feel-amazing feeling?
It’s almost like you’ve cleansed your soul and you’re ready to take on whatever challenge comes your way. That’s how I feel at least – working out is super cathartic for me. It gives me a sense of release and relief and I have a much more productive/happy/fun day when I workout in the morning.
I get that same feeling from writing my thoughts down on paper. Writing gives me a sense of expression and allows me to get all my thoughts in order.
And research suggests that writing down your deepest thoughts, fears, and feelings may help you deal with unwanted thoughts.
Think of it this way, say you have a thought, “I suck at writing”. Instead of allowing that thought to bust through your confidence like a 900lb grizzly bear, you explore it. You can even ask yourself questions.
Why do I feel this way?
What makes me think I’m right about feeling this way?
How does this effect me?
Just don’t sugar coat it. Sugar coating things is bad for your health (in more ways than one).
Get honest with yourself. Write out your feelings and thoughts. Allow yourself to accept where you’re at (see strategy #2) and, instead of only trying to distract yourself (see strategy #1), give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling.
It might just help you recognize where the root of this obstacle is coming from so you can pluck it out and carry on with your bad self.
Remember, the only person expecting you to be perfect from day one is you.
So stop assuming you’re a terrible writer and you’ll never get better because it just isn’t true.
You can get better and it starts with eliminating these negative beliefs from your subconscious and conscious mind.
Try one (or all) of these strategies the next time you feel those Negative Nelly thoughts creep up and enjoy the ride, my friend. Whether it takes you 3 weeks or 3 years, if you want something bad enough, I know you’ll have the patience and dedication to grow and become better every. single. day.
Tell me in the comments below…
What strategies have you tried to overcome your Negative Nelly beliefs?
What’s worked? What hasn’t worked?
Let’s share in the comments below to help each other bust through the negativity and embrace our awesomeness!
Lots of love,
P.S. Know a friend who suffers from Negative Nelly-ness? Email her this post and remind her that her thoughts don’t have to be her reality.