November is the perfect opportunity to consider giving back and not just to others but to ourselves. It’s the month for turkey dinner, Black Friday sales, Cyber Monday blowouts, and, for many writers, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. If you’re trying to crank out 50k words by the end of the month, it could help bust your tendency to procrastinate.
However, you should also consider working on consistency as a writer no matter what month it is. Some writers need a muse, and NaNoWriMo could offer that to them. It’s a cool and fun challenge to get us all trying to write every day. Other writers wait for inspiration to hit. Many of us often have work, kids, and lives full of distractions. There will always be a reason not to start. Excuses are very easy to make because they’re the quickest way to allow procrastination to get in the way of accomplishing not just our daily word count but any goal, for that matter.
Procrastination can be problematic because it can cause anxiety and add pressure to perform. It can affect our mindset and ability to be productive. Many times procrastinators are also perfectionists at heart. We want things done perfectly, and so we build up an incredibly high expectation to achieve a certain level of productivity that can backfire. Perfectionism can be a problem because it’s an impossible standard for anyone to live up to. There’s a big difference between doing our absolute best and being a perfectionist.
You don’t need to be perfect. You just need to start, and a monthly writing challenge such as NaNoWriMo shouldn’t be akin to a new year’s resolution. I’m all for fun contests to get us inspired, but I’m also a proponent of learning to be a self-starter, self-motivator, and your own cheerleader—year round! As a cynical writer who doesn’t count on outwardly praise, I’ve learned long ago not to expect flattery, other people, and external sources to make me feel better about myself. You’ll always be disappointed, and you’ll always be waiting around for others to lift you up. Yes, we can all use positive words and encouragement, but when we draw on ourselves for inspiration we become autonomous self-starters.
How To Be Your Own Inspiration
Kill Your Imposture Syndrome: Destroy that little voice inside of you that claims that you’re an imposture, that you’re not good enough to call yourself an artist, creator, or writer. Do not listen to this negative voice inside of you telling you that you’re not good enough.
Practice Positive Self Talk: Positive self-talk might sound like a given, but you might not be paying attention to how often you talk down to yourself. This is the perfect opportunity to learn self-awareness by paying attention to what you tell yourself. Like a radio, turn the channel anytime negative thoughts enter your head and turn the channel to positive words instead.
Own Your Strengths: I hate people who brag. Let me repeat: I absolutely can’t stand arrogant people. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine. But there’s a difference between bragging and owning your strengths. Write out a list of your top ten strengths and own it. Be proud of your talents and gifts and what you’re capable of. If you can’t think of ten strengths, ask your friends and loved ones what your strengths are. Look at that list daily and tell yourself – this is me. It’s the same with the pronoun you choose for yourself. The gender you decide to be and the person you decide to fall in love with. You’re unique, and that should be celebrated. Tell yourself—these are my strengths. This is who I am. I own it. I’m a bad-ass. I’m good at X, Y, Z, and I rock!
The Bottom Line
Why is it important to kill the imposture syndrome plaguing you? Why is it important to practice positive self-talk and own your strengths? How can they help you stop procrastinating and keep you inspired? When you kill the imposture in you, talk positively to yourself, and own your strengths, you start to do what successful people do. Believe in yourself. It sounds really corny and cliché, but it’s the truth. You can and you will, and you are making things happen. Keep the momentum. Work on your goal daily. Be your own inspiration. Look to yourself as your own author role model and an inspiration. After all, at the end of a long day, why can’t it be your turn to shine?