Learning how to write an is relatively easy. But, why should you do it?
A couple of years ago, I read the book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. His book helped me figure out it’s natural to procrastinate and feel embarrassed about sharing my work with others.
Then I moved on to something else, and I forgot some of these important creative lessons. I recently re-read the War of Art and re-discovered that successful writers and artists use positive affirmations to remind themselves what’s important and to internalize the teachings of their betters. Since then, I’ve started using positive affirmations as a way of overcoming negative -talk and a about the value of writing.
What Are Positive Affirmations?
Affirmations are a powerful form of -talk that many athletes, entrepreneurs, creatives, and writers use to deal with processes. The use of affirmations involves keeping helpful or positive ideas in your . It also involves reciting sayings or and phrases that encourage positive -talk. You can write a personal . Alternatively, you can use the writings of other people.
Why Use Positive Affirmations?
Using a is like wearing a suit of armor into battle. When the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are thrown your way, they will bounce off your suit of armor, and you can keep on going.
You won’t stop because someone criticizes your work, because your last creative project was a failure or because it’s just too damn hard. Top athletes use them to break records, beat other athletes, and achieve their goals. The writer Daniel Pink explains why in his book To Sell is Human :
“First, the interrogative by its very form elicits answers and in these answers are strategies for carrying out the task.”
“Questioning -talk elicits the reasons for doing something and reminds people that many of those reasons come from within.”
Positive affirmations can help writers and creative people too. In The War of Art, the writer Steven Pressfield explains he recites a to combat procrastination and focus on creative work. He writes:
“The last thing I do before I sit down to work is say my prayer to the Muse . I say it out loud, in absolute earnest. Only then do I get down to business.
How To Use Positive Affirmations
You can use an for any area of your as long as it’s relevant, personal, and specific, kind of like a good goal. Your choice of words should help you internalize the thoughts of teachers and mentors.
To get the most value from a , write it down and recite it quietly. That way, it will sink into your . regularly will help you develop resilience, focus, and .
work quite well as they set you up for the day. Also, consider reciting them whenever you’re about to face a challenge, like a heavy writing session or a big workout. You don’t need to share a with anyone else, either.
How to Write An
1. Identify Sources of Inspiration
The most powerful affirmations are personal. A that works for a writer or artist might not work for you. To find your , underline passages that you don’t want to forget in great books.
The Kindle is useful for this as it’s easy to go back, find and re-read these passages later on. You can also find passages that other people liked for inspiration. It’s helpful to gather positive affirmations for each area of your . These areas may include your:
- a creative and more
The next time someone praises your work or your writing, record what they said alongside your other affirmations. Now, when you feel like what you’re creating isn’t much good or when your work is criticized (and it will be), you can re-read this praise as a reminder that your work is worthwhile.
Step 2: In The Present Tense
Typically, an is one you repeat or say to yourself regularly in the morning or evening. That means it’s best to write the in the present tense so it’s usable each day.
Step 3: Use Strong Language
To write a , make sure it’s a strong statement or proposition that’s positive and relevant. It should also be brief and relate to your goals or objectives. For example,
I am a focused entrepreneur.
Step 4: In The First Person
Use active verbs (e.g., I will…, I am) and language that you won’t easily forget. Here’s one I wrote:
“I am the kind of writer who turns up every day, writes 1,000 words and commits to sharing my work with the world.”
Step 5: Keep It Concise
Although some affirmations, like the Stephen Pressfield example, are quite long, concise affirmations are best as:
- You can remember them easily
- They don’t take long to say
- They’re usually specific as brevity breeds clarity
- You can recite them in the without thinking
Step 5: Review Your Affirmations
Affirmations are meant to be used and reviewed.
You can record one in a journal, in a notepad, or in a file on your computer. Similarly, you don’t have to recite your affirmations every day, but they won’t help you if you never look at them or use them. Steven Pressfield recites his before he writes, Scott Jurek pins his to the bottom of his emails while Muhammad Ali repeated his affirmations in his head and then later to anyone who would listen
Step 6: Recite Positive Affirmations Regularly
Many people who use positive affirmations stop once they’ve found a few chest-thumping phrases they like.
That’s fine, but it’s also good practice to review your choice of positive affirmations. For example, it might have made sense to focus on creating a new workout routine last year. But, if you’re working out consistently, perhaps a new will help you get to the next level? The same applies to creative pursuits.
What Are Some Examples of Affirmations?
One of my favorite positive affirmations (and a helpful one for writers) is by Steven Pressfield. In the War of Art, he writes:
“We’re facing dragons too. Fire-breathing griffins of the soul, whom we must outfight and outwit to reach the treasure of our elf-in-potential and to release the maiden who is God’s plan and destiny for ourselves and the answer to why we were put on this planet.”
This statement reminds creatives why they write. It’s like a suit of armor. Here’s another popular example. The boxer Muhammad Ali famously told an interviewer:
“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was…”
And he explained:
“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to . And once that becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”
The American ultra-athlete Scott Jurek is a more contemporary example of a successful athlete who uses (less ego-centric!) ones to achieve his goals. He is a winner of many of the world’s top ultra-marathons. Before a big race, Jurek recites this by the author William James:
“Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never pushed through the obstruction.”
If you need more examples, Dr. Carmen Harra provides over 35 in this Huffington Post article.
: The Final Word
A serves as a springboard to asking realistic and constructive questions about your motivations and what’s possible. Review what inspires you, take the time to write one, and put it to use. Want more? Check out our guide to writing a how to write a personal mission statement.
How many times should I write affirmations?
Do positive affirmations really work?
- Pink, Daniel H. (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 272 Pages - 12/03/2013 (Publication Date) - Riverhead Books (Publisher)
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