Monday, 5 August 2013

Kicking Negativity to the Curb


If there is one thing that saps my creative energy more than any other, it's negative thoughts. To much time spent worrying about my own or other people's problems is draining. It leaves me in a dry and barren place; a wilderness with no words.

Let me be clear. I'm not talking about writing problems. I'm talking about money worries, relationship issues, other people's problems – anything that upsets the careful balance of my usually happy life can cause severe writer's block.

Are all writers like this? I hope not. Some writers use writing itself as a form of therapy – a way to escape the pressures of reality. I know this is something I should do more often.

So how do you stop negativity from blocking creativity? How do you kick negativity to the curb?

The most obvious solution is to eliminate the causes of the negativity in the first place. Of course, that isn't always possible. Sometimes we have no choice in what affects our lives on a day to day basis. But we do have a choice in how we respond and deal with it.

Here are some useful methods to help you cope:

  1. Write your worries down. Something about recording thoughts and concerns allows you to deal with them and then move on. Often, writing them down will allow you to see things aren't quite as bad as you thought they were.
  2. For every negative, think of a positive. Look at what is good in your life. Positives do exist!
  3. Acknowledge negative thoughts and choose to deal with them later. Simply say, I will think about that but not until I've done A, B, or C.
  4. Learn to spot the patterns and behaviours of those around you, and where possible take yourself out of the equation. Dorothea Brande talks about choosing the right people to spend time with in her seminal book, Becoming A Writer. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it.

How do you cope with negative thoughts and pressures from every day life? Do they affect your writing? If so, how do you eliminate them?

35 comments:

  1. A good, hard workout will flush out most of the negativity. (Afterwards I'm too tired to care I guess.) I also take a lot of things to God. He can handle them better than me anyway.

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    1. I'd never thought of exercise in that way, Alex. It's something I should try. I'm glad your faith gives you someone to turn to.

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  2. I feel like this right now and I'm having trouble getting out of it.
    I will work on coming up with some positives. Maybe that will help.
    Thanks for the timely post! :)
    Heather

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    1. I know exactly how you feel, Heather. I sometimes think that if I spent less time worrying and more time doing, I'd be a lot happier.

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  3. I really needed to read this today. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to negativity and lately my writing has suffered for it. Thanks for the tips!

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    1. We all go through these periods of negativity, Julie. I know that while my writing has progressed in the last year, other things such as grammatical errors have increased because I'm not concentrating.

      I hope my tips do work for you.

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  4. Like Alex, I tend to do better with stress and negativity if I get my butt in gear and sweat a little. I think there truly is a physical connection to our state of mind. I also try to take care to eat well and pamper myself a little. I've also learned that the negative is like a tide, it comes and feels overwhelming, but with the passage of time, most of it has a way of working itself out and receding. It's tough in the midst of it though.

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    1. Awesome advice, Julie. I know I haven't eaten well in the last few months - the extra pounds and sluggishness are proof of that. I shall listen to yours and Alex's advice about exercise.

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  5. i'm a bit like this at the moment, stuffed up with negativity and seemingly endless issues that need me to worry about them! I like to get away whenever possible to get some prespective. Other than that I just sit tight and weather the storm and hope for a little more positivity on the horizon. Hope things are better for you soon, Ellie.

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    1. Thank you, Suzanne. A holiday or a few days break can work wonders. It's something I desperately need. In the meantime, I shall try to weather the storm like you.

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  6. These are great suggestions! I admit it's tough for me to write when there's unhealthy issues going on. At the same time, if something upsets me, in an angry way, I channel that into my writing and skip ahead to the parts of my story where characters have an argument. Makes the scene feel more real. :)

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    1. Now that I hadn't thought of - let your characters sweat it out. Great advice!

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  7. That is a great image Ellie. You're right negativity is poison to the soul.

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  8. Yay for the positives! I'm totally a firm believer in acknowledging (not ignoring) and accepting the negative stuff too - then you can address these and move on!

    Take care
    x

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    1. I agree. Ignoring them is dangerous. We have to acknowledge them or we'd never move on.

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  9. Hi Ellie .. my blog helped me enormously - the negativity I just couldn't handle and made sure I kept well away from blogs with overloads of minuses!!!

    I've had some pretty rough times in recent years .. and thankfully I've been able to 'forget' them, find out what I need to know to deal with them, and as they can't shoot me .. move on.

    It's not easy .. please contact me if you'd like to ..

    With thoughts - Hilary

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    1. Blogging is definitely a great form of therapy, as long as you stay away from the negatives ones, like you say. Someone I loved dearly always said, 'What's the worst thing that could happen?' when it came to dealing with problems. He was always right.

      Thanks for the offer of a talk. Much appreciated.

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  10. I have learned to think about the source of my depression/negativity. Was it a perceived rejection or hurt? Once I do that, I feel all the negativity leave.

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    1. That's a positive way of looking at a negative. I shall remember that. Thank you!

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  11. I really like the tips you provide. When it comes to negative thoughts - which are so vampirically draining - I tend to channel them out through your suggestion of writing them down or by giving them a physical release in the form of a nice, long walk. I have to be careful as well since I can be an emotional eater on occasion and channel the negative thoughts through chocolate or ice cream eating.

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    1. 'Vampirically draining' - what an apt way of putting it.

      Like yourself, I have a tendency to comfort eat. The problem is comfort foods actually make you feel worse in the long run.

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  12. If problems are bothering me I find my creative side shuts down - for art or writing - until I have a bit of control over the problem.

    What I do, usually revisions or editing. I also write in a journal - a form of discussion with myself without dumping on anyone else. It's gets the worry out of me and on to the paper. Sounds weird but it works for me.

    I don't believe in rainbows and fluffy clouds, but I also don't like dark and dreary thoughts.

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    1. I used to keep a journal and found it incredibly useful for putting problems into perspective and for finding solutions. I've started a new one today.

      I agree that there are no rainbows and fluffy clouds - at least not all the time - but I also think we choose our attitude to life. Life is what we make it.

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  13. I'm always thinking positive. When something bad happens to bring me down, I just keep moving forward. Whatever the problem is, I deal with it and just move on. Quiet little me can be blunt when the situation requires, and that helps.

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    1. Bluntness. I wish I could be more that way on occasions. I'd probably have an easier life.

      I used to always think positive, Gwen. Recently, I've lost that. I'm determined to get it back! Good for you for always moving forward.

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  14. If I can, I take a walk. I pray. Then I come home and write a poem about it.

    Good tips.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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    1. Such a positive way of dealing with negativity, Shelly. Wonderful.

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  15. Oh gosh... negativity is SO vital to kick as a writer... essential.

    I know for me, talking about it helps. When I admit out loud what is bothering me and what my fears are, it helps me process and move on. If I keep it all inside, it only builds and destroys.

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    1. Keeping fears or worries inside is bad not only for our mental health but also our physical. So, talking about them is an excellent way to deal with it. I'd like to say I always practice what I preach, but if something is to me a major worry, I tend to let it fester and blow out of proportion. I need to change my way of thinking!

      Awesome advice, Morgan.

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  16. I garden. Nothing makes me happier than hacking a long-rooted weed to death. LOL.

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  17. Wonderful tips. My negative thoughts do zap my creativity. I just spend some time playing with my son or dive into a good book, and then I'm feeling better. :)

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  18. Great tips. There are so many things to be negative about, but so many MORE things to be positive about. My faith helps me focus on the positive. I also journal daily to help me let things go.

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  19. This is something I struggle with, to be sure. Sometimes it seems one bad review can wipe out a ton of good ones, for example. Talking about it all to loved ones is always helpful but I do like your tips and suggestions. Thanks for sharing them.

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  20. Hi, Ellie.

    Chocolate, definitely chocolate.

    But we also seek out renewed ways of feeling grounded -- sometimes literally. A daily walk or bike ride or X-C ski, pulling weeds, watching a meteor shower. And we're fortunate enough to have pasture fencing that constantly needs mending. Nothing like wrestling with posts and a wire stretcher to put you in your place.

    Short version (too late): Find an excuse to get outdoors and get away mentally to restore that all-important perspective.

    Hey, we love TAKING TIME (but more on that later).

    Cheers!

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