Fiction Writing Made Easy

#99: 5 Mindset Tips to Help You Unlock Your Writing Potential

July 11, 2023 Savannah Gilbo Episode 99
Fiction Writing Made Easy
#99: 5 Mindset Tips to Help You Unlock Your Writing Potential
Fiction Writing Made Easy +
Become a supporter of the show!
Starting at $3/month
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In today’s episode, I’m sharing a round-up of mindset tips from some of my peers! Here’s a preview of what’s included: 

[02:00] Rachel May of Golden May Editing shares a mindset tip about taking the pressure off of your writing practice by letting it be easy. You can learn more about Rachel, Golden May Editing, and her Story Magic podcast here!

[04:43] Georgina Green shares a mindset tip about using better language to talk to yourself about writing. She suggests operating from a growth mindset vs. a fixed one. You can learn more about George and her Calliope Writer’s Group here!

[08:55] Kenny MacKay shares a mindset tip about not letting your self-doubt and limiting beliefs get the best of you. He suggests facing them head-on so that you can start making progress. Learn more about Kenny and his Author Your Dream podcast here!

[12:00] Dani Abernathy shares a mindset tip that will help you infuse more of YOU in your writing so that you can make a bigger impact. Learn more about Dani here!

[16:10] Brooke Adams Law shares six ways to develop your persistence muscle so that you can stick with it and finish your book. Learn more about Brooke here!

[20:40] Final thoughts and episode recap

Rate + Review + Follow on Apple Podcasts

"I love the Fiction Writing Made Easy podcast!" ← If that sounds like you, please consider rating and reviewing this show! Your rating and review will help other writers find this podcast, and they're also super fun for me to go in and read. Just click here, scroll all the way to the bottom, tap five stars to rate the show, and then select "Write a Review." Be sure to let me know what your favorite part of the episode was, too! 

Also, if you haven't done so already, make sure you're following the podcast! I'll be adding a bunch of bonus episodes to the feed, and if you're not following the show, there's a good chance you'll miss them. Click here to follow now!

Links mentioned in this episode:

Join the LIVE 5-Day Unlock Your Story Challenge here! Let me help you develop the 4 foundational elements of a working story idea—a plot that hooks interest, a protagonist with a compelling goal, conflict with high stakes, and a theme with heart—for only $47! 

Support the show

Want to support the Fiction Writing Made Easy Podcast? Click here to show your support, starting at $3/month >

Speaker 1:

Some writing sessions go amazing and you're thinking this is the best idea ever, i love writing. And some writing sessions don't go so well and you're thinking this is terrible, i'm never going to finish this, i hate my idea or I don't know what to do next. All of this is normal and just part of the process. Normalizing those ups and downs as part of the writing process will help you build that persistence muscle so you can get to the finish line.

Speaker 3:

Welcome to the Fiction Writing Made Easy podcast. My name is Savannah Gilbo and I'm here to help you write a story that works. I want to prove to you that writing a novel doesn't have to be overwhelming, so each week, i'll bring you a brand new episode with simple, actionable and step-by-step strategies that you can implement in your writing right away. So whether you're brand new to writing or more of a seasoned author looking to improve your craft, this podcast is for you. So pick up a pen and let's get started. In today's episode, i have something extra special to share with you. I asked a handful of my peers to send a voice note with their favorite mindset tip for writers, and I've gathered them all up for today's episode. You're going to hear from Rachel May, georgina Green, kenny McKay, danny Abernathy and Brooke Adams Law, and oh boy did they share some amazing tips. Some of them are tips born from personal experience and others come from the work they've done with writers, but all of them are juicy and super helpful. I won't make you wait any longer, so let's dive into the first mindset tip, from Rachel May.

Speaker 4:

Hi, my name is Rachel May and I'm an owner and book coach at Golden May. I work with tenacious writers to ditch hustle culture and merge your unique brain with craft knowledge that works so you can develop a process that gets you across the finish line, book after book. When Savannah asked me to share my favorite mindset tip, this question immediately came to mind What if writing could be easy? Let me break that down. So often our inner critic voices become overly loud, leading us to complicate the writing process, overthink craft knowledge and application and make things just generally harder than what they need to be. When I catch myself or my clients working themselves in these overthinking and anxiety-driven holes, i take a step back and ask myself this question what if it could be easy? I ask myself and my students to question where they are putting pressure on themselves that's making their process harder and interrogate whether that pressure even needs to be there in the first place. If you're this kind of writer, you probably work yourself into thought spirals that trigger perfectionism, self-doubt or battles with their imposter syndrome. I completely understand. These thought spirals typically stem from a fear response. You're creating pressure on yourself, your process and your work because your nervous system feels unsafe in some way, so you consciously or subconsciously make the writing process harder than it needs to be. Maybe perfectionism is giving you so much anxiety that you can't move on from a particular scene because you're afraid of rejection. Maybe you're feeling totally stuck on a plot point and becoming increasingly frustrated and angry at yourself because you're afraid of making the wrong choice. Maybe you're ready to throw in the towel and give up writing entirely because you can't believe anyone would ever want to read your story. You feel unsafe, so you create barriers to subconsciously contempt yourself. These fears are normal. I experience them, my clients experience them, but the key is not letting them derail your entire process. We gotta get you back on track. When a spiral happens, i encourage you to ask yourself why are my thoughts spiraling out of control? What's the fear boiling under the surface right now? Why am I making this so hard on myself And how can I remove barriers to make this easier? You'd be surprised how simply stopping the train of thought and reframing your mindset towards ease can get you unstuck and back on track. Ask yourself what if writing could be easy. What would that look like for me? Take the pressure off and you'll immediately notice a difference in your energy and motivation. Wishing you all the best. Happy writing.

Speaker 5:

Hi, i'm Dr Georgina Green. Everyone calls me George. I'm a writing and self-belief coach for novelists. I help new novelists fine-tune their understanding of craft and tap into self-trust, because I firmly believe that that's when the magic happens. So I was really happy when Savannah told me about this episode, and I've been thinking a lot about the top mindset tip that I would like to share. And the thing I kept coming back to, and which I use with almost every author that I work with, is to be very mindful about the language you use to talk about your first draft. And this is particularly the case if perfectionism has paralyzed you in the past or you were defying yourself as a perfectionist. It can be really helpful to describe your first draft as a zero draft. Not even a first draft a zero draft. You can talk about it as the raw clay on the wheel, language which gives you permission for it not to be the finished object, because, as a perfectionist, you're often very uncomfortable with that beginner's mindset and with the roughness that comes with the first draft. And you can use the language that you choose to name the notebooks that you use to name folders on your computer, or even as the subtitle to the draft as you work on it. I've heard a lot of people talk about a crappy or worse with first draft, but I encourage you to be careful about the negativity of that word. Even though it's yes, it's encouraging imperfection and giving you permission to be imperfect. It's also kind of talking down your idea. I much prefer this idea of something raw, something that's got potential. The raw clay is a favourite, zero draft is a favourite. Another word that you could use is to think of it as an experiment. When you first start writing, this takes some of the pressure of it being successful first round, because you're just you're just experimenting, you're just seeing what happens. Sometimes a perfectionist finds that very concept of something being an experiment really uncomfortable. And if you're feeling kind of like you about the idea of experimenting with something you don't know for sure will work, that may actually be a signal to you to look into your perfectionism and to try to get to the bottom of why the idea of an experiment might be so uncomfortable to you. And as you're writing and revising your first novel, talking to yourself about it as your apprenticeship piece will allow you to reassure that part of you that is scared of what this first book means about you. So what we're doing here is using language that fosters a growth mindset. You're becoming the writer you want to be through an apprenticeship the apprenticeship of writing your first draft And that growth mindset is something we're looking for over and above using a fixed mindset. In a fixed mindset, you will see your writing and your first draft as the proof of whether or not you're meant for this, whether you're not. You're a good writer, and by looking for that proof, you're also going to be scared to find proof that you're not, that you're a bad writer. So if we're in that fixed mindset, it can sometimes seem better not to try a tool than to try and to risk failing. So if you're in that mindset of trying to prove yourself through your writing, trying to look for evidence that you are who you hope you are in your writing, you're putting a lot of pressure on it and you may find yourself avoiding the work in different ways, procrastinating, doing more and more research, coming up with other things you could be doing, and so on, whereas with the growth mindset, you reassure that part of you that in fact, we're just on a journey, working on a process that will take us towards becoming the writer we want to be, and it may be a winding process, there may be setbacks, there may be areas for improvement, but in showing up, we're working towards becoming that writer that you have the taste to imagine that you could be, and working towards that becomes safer because you're using that growth mindset and it would be if you using a fixed mindset. Okay, i really hope that helps and, yeah, thanks again for including me.

Speaker 2:

So Hey everybody, my name is Kenny McKay and I am the host of the author your dream podcast. But I'm also a writer who has written three nonfiction books and I'm currently working on my first fiction novel, and I've found fiction to be a very different animal to nonfiction, and I've actually struggled with making that transition from writing nonfiction to writing fiction. So when Savannah asked me to share my most impactful insight on mindset, i happily agreed. It can be so easy to let your limiting beliefs stop you from fulfilling your dream of writing your book. So here is my mindset tip for you when you struggle with self doubts and limiting beliefs, don't just stop there, don't camp at those limiting beliefs or those doubts and just ponder about them, because if you do, you'll never make it past those doubts But take each doubt and each false belief and write down the opposing thought. For example, one of my limiting beliefs when it came to writing my fiction was you can't write this book because you've never done it before and you don't know how Now. My response to that was yes, it's true, i've never done this, but I can learn. Whatever your limiting belief is, come up with that opposite and positive response and focus on that and if there is an action that you need to take, make a plan and implement that plan. This insight has really helped me to move past what has been holding me back and realize that I can do this. I can write a novel and I am. I started learning. I read books, i listened to podcast, i watched YouTube videos and I started talking with some very incredible people on my podcast and because I did this, i am well on my way to finishing my first novel. I'm not going to lie to you and say that doubts are gone forever, that I've been a sentiment. I no longer struggle with them, because they do. Doubts come every now and then, but I know how to respond to them now and it has helped me go from procrastinating for years to being able to sit down on a daily basis and write, because before I learned this tip, this insight, i was spending weeks procrastinating. I'd go to a coffee shop to write air quotes here and I sit there and I wouldn't write and procrastinate. I'd find something else to do, because that limiting belief that I didn't know how was holding me back and stopping me from doing what I knew I was meant to be doing and from doing what I had always dreamed of doing. I want to encourage you to take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, on the left side. I want you to write down every single limiting belief that you have ever had about your own writing. Once you've done that, i want you to respond to those limiting beliefs. I don't know how I can learn. I'm too old. Who cares? I'm too young. Find somebody who's younger than you and said if they can do it, i can do it. Now, whatever your limiting belief is, find that opposite positive response to it and focus on that and every time that belief comes up, or that limiting belief comes up, remind yourself of that positive response and hold on to it. If you have to read it to yourself every day, until those doubts are no longer constantly nagging at you in your ear.

Speaker 6:

Hi, i'm Danny Abernathy. I'm a book coach and enneagram teacher who helps people write the stories they need to tell so that their reader can feel seen and can see others. The most important thing I want you to know about writing is that you are the most important part of your story. You are the roots of your story. So I want you to imagine a tree. So a tree has roots, it has a tree trunk, it has branches and it has leaves. In my work with writers, we use the story tree as the process for developing their book. So the first thing we do is focus on you, the writer, and you connecting with yourself, you knowing what you care about, because your story can only be as healthy and as strong as you are, and the more you embrace the you in your novel, the stronger it will be, the more motivated you're going to be and the more likely you are to persevere through all the hard stuff that comes with writing a novel. So there are a few specific roots that my clients find most helpful. The first is your backstory. So a lot of times you share that. You know writers shouldn't write themselves into their books And I agree that writing for therapy is different from writing for a reader. But the more you understand why this story matters to you, the stronger your novel is going to be and the more dedicated you're going to be to this story. So I want you to think about your life. What experiences and your life led you to this story? what passions come up over and over again, like why do you need to tell this story? Why is it so important to you? So another root I want you to think about is your impact. So you can almost think about the impact as the rings of your story tree in the tree trunk. So I want you to imagine three rings. At the inner core of your story tree is your self impact, and this is how your book affects you. It's why you're writing for yourself. So you might be writing to get revenge. You might be writing to prove something. You might be writing to be known, to finally gain someone's respect. So this level of impact, this self impact, is really hard to find because it's, you know, it requires a lot of self reflection and honesty and maybe even therapy. But if you can find that self impact, it's going to allow you to approach your novel with less sort of attachment And you're going to be able to see it more clearly. The second ring of your tree trunk is the reader impact. So this is what we traditionally think of. It's. It's, you know, when someone reads your book, like, how are they going to respond? How are they going to be affected? What do you want to say to your reader? And then the last ring of your tree trunk is world impact. And so this is like if your book came, the bestseller you know, got the movie franchise, got a theme park, got all the things How do you want to impact the world? How do you want to change the world? So, backstory impact. And the last root that I want you to think about is your point. So every novel says something about the world. You have a worldview, you have a message you want to convey, and it's so important to think about your point because it acts as your tree trunk. Your point really is your tree trunk. All your other story branches, like your character and your plot and your outline, grow from. So I want you to think about how you want to impact your reader. How do you want them to feel when they finish your novel? And then what are you trying to say to them? So try to come up with one sentence that really sums up what you're trying to say. And the point of your point is not you're not going to like write it word for word in your story The point is to remind you of why this story matters and what you're aiming for. So those are three roots of your story tree I want you to keep in mind as you are working on your novel. When you embrace your roots, when you strengthen them, they're going to remind you of where you're heading, they're going to keep you motivated, they're going to keep your story healthy And they're also going to stop you from comparing yourself to other people, because your tree is different from everyone else's. You don't need to try to grow an aspen if you're a maple. So always remember that you are the most important part of your story. You are the roots of your story.

Speaker 1:

Hey everyone, this is Brooke Adams Law. I am the founder of Writing Brave, a book coaching and hybrid publishing company. I'm also a novelist. My debut novel, catchlight, won the Fairfield Book Prize, was named the best indie book of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews and was featured on Good Morning America's blog. Today, i want to share six ways to develop your persistence muscle so you can stay the course and get your novel finished and published. I know a little bit about this because my novel, catchlight, took me seven years to finish and then another six years to get published. One of my goals as a coach is always to help people do it faster than I did. Step one to build your persistence muscle is to keep your desire front and center. So this isn't the same as your goal. Your goal is probably to finish your novel or to get it published, but your desire is your why, why does your story matter to you? Why write a novel at all? Stay connected to that desire, that why and it will help you build your persistence. Step two to build your persistence muscle is to normalize the ups and downs of the writing process. Some writing sessions go amazing and you're thinking this is the best idea ever. I love writing and some writing sessions don't go so well and you're thinking this is terrible, i'm never going to finish this, i hate my idea or I don't know what to do next. All of this is normal and just part of the process. Normalizing those ups and downs as part of the writing process will help you build that persistence muscle so you can get to the finish line. Step three to build your persistence muscle is to take the long view. Writing a book isn't something that happens overnight. It takes some grit to stick it out. When I was first writing Catchlight, i knew that I wanted to be an author for my whole career and getting my first book right was super important to me. So taking that long view really helped me keep going. Even if you're just writing one book, know that it takes time to write a draft, get it revised and figure out your best publishing pathway. Taking that long view will help you build that persistence muscle. Step four to help you build your persistence muscle is to surround yourself with friends who will cheer you on. They might be other writers so you might join a writing community, but they don't have to be writers. You want friends or family members who support your dreams and cheer you on. My husband and my best friend and my parents all believed in my dream to finish and publish my book, even when I couldn't believe in it myself. So if you have a friend or a family member who isn't supportive or who's critical of your work without also being super encouraging, stop telling them about your book and seek out another pillar of support. You want someone where, if you tell them about a tough writing session, they tell you you've got this and you leave the conversation feeling strengthened and motivated rather than drained. Step five to build your persistence muscle is to remember that the main difference between you and writers you admire is that they kept going right. So everyone has doubts, everyone is busy, everyone faces obstacles in their writing life, everyone has moments where they don't know what to do next, but the only difference between folks who have published their books one book or 20 books is that they kept going. So stay the course and keep going. Step six in building your persistence muscle is to fuel yourself for the journey. So, in addition to leaning on friends and family when you need the port, fuel yourself for the writing journey, for the long path out, with two things. So writing inspo like this very podcast great job, you're already doing that And also celebrating each of your wins. So celebrating small wins helps us be ready to celebrate big wins, right. So we sort of get in the habit of celebrating. and celebrating is also super fun and it helps us keep going right. So every time you sit down to write, or every time you squeeze in an extra writing session in a given week or work through a module of a writing course or figure out a stubborn plot point, give yourself a little celebration. So celebrations don't have to cost anything or take a lot of time. My favorite mini celebrations for small wins include taking a walk up guide, giving myself extra reading time on that particular day and maybe treating myself to some gourmet chocolate. So there you have it, my six tips to build your persistence muscle. I am cheering you on so big.

Speaker 3:

Those were such great tips, right. I love hearing what is move the needle for other people, especially in terms of mindset, because it can be a rather squishy thing. I always feel like mindset is just as important to talk about as actual craft tips because, like I always say, i can teach you strategies for writing a book all day long, but if your mindset isn't right, none of the strategies will matter. So I hope you enjoyed the episode, and if you want to get in touch with any of the coaches or editors that were featured on today's episode, i'm going to link to their websites and their podcasts and where you can find them on Instagram, in case you want to get in touch. I'm sure they'd love to hear from you, especially if the mindset tip they shared on today's episode rang true with you. So do reach out to them if you feel compelled to. I'm sure they would love to hear from you, and if you liked this episode, let me know. Either send me a DM on Instagram I'm just at savannahgilbo over there or leave me a review with your feedback. The more I hear from you about which episodes you like or don't like, the more I can create the type of content you love, so please do let me know. So that's it for today's episode. As always, thank you so much for tuning in and for showing your support. If you want to check out any of the links I mentioned in this episode, you can find them in the show notes listed in the description of each episode inside your podcast player or at savannahgilbocom forward slash podcast. If you're an Apple user, i'd really appreciate it if you took a few seconds to leave a rating and a review. Your ratings and reviews tell Apple that this is a podcast that's worth listening to And, in turn, your reviews will help this podcast get in front of more fiction writers just like you. And while you're there, go ahead and hit that follow button, because there's going to be another brand new episode next week, full of actionable tips, tools and strategies to help you become a better writer. So I'll see you next week and until then, happy writing.

Mindset Tips for Fiction Writers
Overcoming Limiting Beliefs in Writing
Persistence and Connecting With Your Story