Monday, May 30, 2011

Using our vision to drive us

Last week, we talked about fear of success and discussed a few ways to talk yourself around or through that. Because, really, most of this stuff that keeps you from achieving your goals is in your head.

We subconsciously fear being successful because we hate crowds and we're afraid of having to speak in public...even at booksignings. Or we fear failure because we don't want our missteps to become public knowledge. Or we fear success because we fear how our parents, friends or even spouses will react.

We now know there are ways around those fears. First, all of our missteps don't have to be public. We can keep our failures to ourselves. There is no need to post every rejection on Facebook, Twitter or even your own website.

Second, success can also be managed so that we don't have to face the horrible things we imagine at the other end of the rainbow. If you don't like to speak in public, you don't have to. If you fear your mom won't like your sex scenes...ask her. Or write something without sex. Or use a fake name.

Through those lessons on fear of success and fear of failure I wondered if anybody picked up on one really interesting thing ... If you can talk yourself out of your fears, can you talk yourself INTO good habits?


I've always said that "knowing yourself" is any person's greatest asset. And once you think all this stuff through, you will begin to see that the very same tools you use to get yourself out of trouble can be used in more positive, constructive ways.

What do I mean by that? Well, to talk yourself out of fear of failure or fear of success, you used pictures/images and thoughts to show yourself a different "vision" of your future. That vision comforted you. If you hated public speaking, you simply told yourself that you didn't have to speak publicly after your book was published. And intentionally or not I'm guessing a picture popped into your head. That picture was you one, two or five years from now after your book was published. You saw yourself successful...maybe in a suit, maybe on a beach, maybe in a limo...depending upon what your vision of "success" is...and you knew you'd gotten there without speaking publicly.

You might have been at ease, leaning back on the limo seat, thinking, wow, I made it without having to speak publicly. And you were happy. And you got a warm, fuzzy feeling from the vision.

Because that's what our brains do. We don't think...I'm going to become successful without public speaking...and have only dead air or black space in our brains. Nope. Your brain creates a picture of what success without public speaking looks like. I'll bet some of you were even wearing diamonds, drinking champagne, laughing with friends...because our brains like to be detailed. They root around and find the things that mean success to us and they use them.

So why can't we use them too? Why do we have to wait until we have a problem to create a nice vision...a vision that will drive us?

We don't. Vision isn't a merely a problem-solving trick. It can be (and should be) a way to motivate yourself.

So today I want you to think about what success looks like. Are you fat or thin? Are you at your desk? On a beach (because you can afford great vacations now)? At a Broadway play? Is your hair nice or scruffy ... Is there champagne involved?

Your vision can go one of two ways. You can either picture yourself at your desk. Maybe typing the words The End. Maybe you're bent forward, creating a really wonderful scene. Something you know is going to touch readers.

Now, feel what that feels like. Put the picture in your head. You. At your desk. Leaning forward. Concentrating as you create a pivotal scene for your book. Feel the lightness of your heart. The sense of anticipation in your soul, as you know you are nailing this. Maybe because you have great gifts from God. Maybe because you've studied and you now know a lot about nailing great scenes. Maybe because of a combination of the two. Talent and study.

Either way, you are nailing this!

Now, fast forward a few months. You are at a party. Maybe at RWA Nationals. Maybe at a smaller conference. You meet your dream agent/editor. She strolls over. She's heard about your new book. You're a bit surprised. She pulls a card from her jacket pocket. You know, if you're ever unagented (or if you're not happy with your current publisher) she'd like to hear from you.

Now...What does THAT feel like? Does your heart race? Are you stunned. Does that surprise turn to happiness, even joy? Have you made it, or what!!!

Now...imagine that you are in your favorite department store...or a department store that you typically don't shop in because it's too expensive. And you find the perfect dress/pants/suit/blender/refrigerator/purse/necklace. Something you typically couldn't afford...but suddenly you can. YOU CAN. You have some money.

Or maybe you're at your favorite beach. You are in the GOOD hotel. The one you always drive by and say someday we're going to stay there. Well someday is here. You can afford it.

What does that feel like? Is your stomach light? Your chest bubbly? Are you swimming in warm, fuzzy delight?

Of course, you are! At first you might have a sense of wonder or disbelief...but work through that. Stay in the vision until you believe it. Until you know what it feels like to do what you want, to be successful, to reap the rewards.


Suck in a breath. Come back to today. How do you feel about writing now? Do you want to work? I'll bet you do. I'll bet you are eager. Because you've just reminded yourself of the rewards that await you if you work hard.

If you study, you will have days when you sit at the desk, focused intently...knowing you're writing a great scene. Knowing people are going to love it. Your sense of accomplishment will be a physical thing you feel. So imagine it now. Use it to get yourself to study those lessons you need to study to become the great writer you need to be.

If you study and work hard, someday you will be at a conference, and editors and agents will congratulate you and they will give you their cards.

Imagine that. Feel what that would feel like.

Then use it to get yourself to sit down and write!

If you study and work hard, you will sell. You will get some cash. And you will take great vacations and be able to afford things otherwise out of reach.

Don't just get the images in your head. Get them in your tummy, your chest. FEEL the emotions you would get if you did the work...and, if you do, doing the work doesn't just become possible, typically it becomes easy.

Make sense?

Learn to fast forward, imagine your life, and use the emotions to drive you!


By the way, if you have can post them in the comments section. Or even if you just want to discuss this more fully, I'm here. Post in the comments section.


Carol Silvis said...

Good tips, Susan. I've read extensively on how "feeling" while visualizing makes possibilities come true. Happy writing!

Susan said...

I love studying this stuff. That's how I "drove" myself here!


Jenna Kernan said...

This reminds me of the "act as if" advice, which is to imagine you already have the contract, the agent, the award, the list. Visualizing it as real helps make it so, where as thinking 'someday' lets your brain off the hook because someday never arrives.
Like Cary Grant saying, “I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me.”
Great topic, Susan!

Susan said...

Fake it until you make it! LOL

There's a lot of truth in the act as if advice!

Thanks, Jenna!


Sonia G Medeiros said...

I love the visualizations! I'll definitely try this out.

I've always been rather introverted but blogging and joining Twitter have helped me become so much more comfortable talking to people.

Cathy P said...

Thanks for the great blog, Susan! It has been my dream to become a writer for many years. I just have been afraid to try. Your blog helped make me believe it is possible if I just make up my mind and do it.

Susan said...

Sonia...I can see how Twitter and Facebook could help you...esp when it comes to building confident. They are user friendly!


Susan said...

Oh my! I was thirty before I found the courage to try and now I'm so glad I did. I love what I do.

So take a deep breath and dive in. It took me six years to get published and a few years after that before I felt I was really telling great stories, but the journey is the fun!


Sonia G Medeiros said...

I was so nervous about joining Twitter but Kristen Lamb's blog was so encouraging. I'm glad that I did join. I love the #myWANA group there and #wordmongering helps me knock my word count goals out of the park (though, at the moment, it's outline revision goals :D)