I used to think believing in myself and staying positive was a bunch of fluffy nonsense. As a natural-born skeptic and self-proclaimed realist, I figured motivation and success came from sheer determination, hard work, and talent alone. But over the years, through plenty of ups and downs while building my writing business, I’ve come to learn that mindset matters – a lot.
When I first started freelancing, everything felt exciting and new. I hustled hard, chasing every opportunity I could find. My calendar filled up quickly. But then came the inevitable creative block. The thrill of newness wore off. Ghost clients stopped replying. My carefully curated schedule suddenly had gaping holes, along with my confidence.
I felt defeated. Worst of all, I started questioning my abilities. Every rejection or late payment became personal. Soon, a cloud of negativity followed me around like my own slimy ghost companion whispering criticisms in my ear: “You’re not good enough. Just give up already.”
So, I worked harder, slaving away through 16-hour days fueled by coffee and unreasonable expectations. The harder I pushed, the more resentment and bitterness I felt. My mood grew sour and so did my work. Turns out forced effort and gritting your teeth until they crack isn’t all that effective (who knew?).
It wasn’t until I hit an especially low point that I realized nothing was going to change until I changed my attitude. At my partner’s urging, I started keeping a success journal, wrote myself little encouraging notes, and made a real effort to celebrate tiny wins, even if it was just scoring a new blog post gig. After a lifetime of eyerolls aimed at all things positive thinking, actually trying it felt super hokey. But you know what? It worked. Slowly but surely, legitimately appreciating the tiny triumphs shifted my mindset. Over time, the positivity muscle got stronger.
These days I’m my own biggest cheerleader. Do I still face rejection, bad reviews, and nightmare clients? You betcha. The difference now is that I take failures and criticisms in stride instead of twisting myself into a pretzel trying to be perfect. When imposter syndrome rears its ugly head, I’ve learned how to drown it out with loud reminders of how far I’ve come: “You’ve been published on XYZ huge sites!” or “Remember that time you landed that HUGE author?”
Staying upbeat and focusing on progress requires patience and self-awareness, two things us success-obsessed, type-A creative types aren’t exactly known for. For me, the trick is catching myself when I spiral down and then course correcting with quick positivity boosters tailored to my personality – blasting pump up songs, looking through old encouraging notes from friends and mentors, or reaching out to my network of fellow creatives who always share a kind word.
While simply smiling through the misery probably won’t cut it, approaching your work with genuine optimism, based on tangible examples of what IS going right, can work wonders. After plenty of peaks and valleys, I’m now achieving a level of business and writing success that Past Me could only fantisize about – and it’s largely because I show up with energy and excitement instead of dread. Turns out you really do have to believe it to see it.