Half my life being in a competitive year-round swim team taught me valuable life lessons that I now apply to writing. Coach mode on.

First and foremost, your mindset and attitude is king (or queen). It rules you. And in a way, YOU rule it. You can tune them to be positive and determined. Or be negative and defeatist. Your choice.

You’re imposing unnecessary hurdles on yourself by doing the latter. Your thoughts and attitude affect your performance, for better or for worse.

To the writers who tell themselves they’re not talented enough, their voices don’t matter, they’re never gonna sell, get an agent, or whatever: cut it out. Stop that kind of talk right now. That’s helping no one and it’s certainly not helping you.

In swim meets, (and in lots of other sports events, really), athletes psych up. When I used to be on the team, before my turn to compete, I’d pump myself up on protein bars, motivational music, and good thoughts. The good thoughts count the most.

A swimmer who’ll perform poorly would be curled up on the bench telling themselves they’re doomed to fail, everyone else is too fast, they can’t beat their own time, etc. Don’t be that swimmer.

So psych yourself up. Pump yourself up on those creative endorphins. Be your own loudest cheerleader.

No, you can’t control if an editor picks your story, or if an agent wants to rep you. But you CAN control how you navigate yourself through adversity and the creative process. (Yes, you have psychic powers)

I think that writing well doesn’t start with your imagination or an idea. It starts with your attitude. 

Validate yourself BEFORE you start working to earn it from other people and places. Not AFTER. How can editors and agents believe in you and your work if you can’t do that yourself first?

Coach mode off. Thanks for coming to my TED talk. Now get out there and tell yourself that your voice DOES matter and your stories WILL kick butt.

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