Self-talk is the voice in your head that almost never shuts up if it has a chance to talk. It is usually quiet when you are listening or reading, but even then it may interrupt. Unwelcome interruptions are called attention deficit. By itself, attention deficit is not a mental health problem. It happens to everyone.
The voice, of course, is just your thinking. You may believe that the thinking is you; that the thinking expresses your personality. But, not everything you are thinking is you. It is a combination of your personality, what you hear and read, what you think about what you see, what you are influenced to think about by other people, and your knowledge and memories.
Buddhist writers talk about how all of this thinking creates the illusion of an ego. If the illusion picks up maladaptive ideas, it can lead to all kinds of problems. Buddhism proposes some metaphysical solutions for the unhappy ego, but the goal here is not to solve your existential crises. You only want to become a better writer. For that, you can use a simple idea from cognitive therapy.
Anything you think about gets reinforced and you think about it more. Cognitive therapy has you examine your thinking and choose to think about adaptive ideas while dropping the maladaptive. It’s not necessary to put any effort into dropping the negatives. They will fade away on their own when you focus on the positive.
In other words, choose the contents of your self-talk.
Focus your-self talk on your goals. You can do this spontaneously, but your mind likes to wander. You start off thinking about your writing goals and soon find yourself thinking about video games or a recent conversation. By writing out a motivational self-talk, you can improve your focus.
The following is something that works for me as a motivation for writing. Modify it to work for your writing goals.
The “I Am A Writer” Self-Talk
I am a writer.
I start every day with writing.
I write whenever I have an idle moment.
I am always looking for more writing time.
I have writing goals and I’m working toward them.
I have writing projects that I work on every week.
I am writing faster all the time.
I am getting better at writing first drafts without editing myself.
I am getting better at fixing problems during revisions.
I am taking the three draft process more seriously.
I will someday earn my living writing.
I am a writer.
Everything you put in your self-talk does not need to be true. Some of the items may be goals that you will make true over time. A paper version of the self-talk is best so that it is always available. Add new motivations as you find them. Remove those that aren’t working. Life is always changing. So should your scripted self-talk.
Article by Ivan Izo.