Attitude Is (Almost) Everything

I believe there are three personas within the heart of a writer.

There is the naysayer, that self-defeating persona who tears at the bold fabric of the writer as he tries to work.  Buried deep in our psyche this persona looms like an impassible mountain between us and our writing goals, blotting out the sky and threatening to crush our writer-lives with great, hurling stones.

Then there is plain old “us” who is also “just me” or “just you” – simply, “I.”  This persona is what your friends, your parents, and your siblings know as “you.”  This “I” is not the person of literary success.  This persona is everything and anything but success, and when the writer sits down to work in this persona she will find herself faced with the cold realization that she, just “Jane,” is about to engage in the mammoth effort of writing while being pitted against the far more experienced and insidious naysayer.  The “I” tends to think they are nobody and must therefore have nothing to say.  The “I” believes in turn that their writing should not strive to achieve too much since “I” was never meant for great things.

Sound at all familiar?

But there is a third persona, a pale ghost at the edge of the writer’s ego waving a firearm and gazing with fiery eyes from under the broad brim of a black hat.  This is the edgy rocker persona, the fighter, the drunk, the damsel with a dagger strapped to her thigh.  This is the persona which finds no barriers, but passes through criticisms and doubts as through a cloud bank, emerging on the other side with their health and confidence intact because, after all, they are in command, fully informed of the agenda and armed to accomplish the job.  This is the persona that slaps down the naysayer and champions the “I.”  This warrior lives inside every creative person, waiting to step up and nail this writing thing once and for all, and I say it’s about time to give him the job.

The first thing to do in awakening the bold persona is to realize that writing is a performance.  Like an actor or musician (and the same is true for other artists) writing is a performance comprised of wild, beautiful, audacious expressions intended to entertain and engage an audience.  By allowing your writer ego to bloom into the brash star of the moment “you” are suddenly free of the inhibitions that may be slowing down your story-telling ability.  No longer fearful of what your mother will think, or shy about discussing dangerous things for fear of appearing naughty, your bold persona takes on the accountability for all of it.  The naysayer is vanquished, and the timid self is excused so that the rock opera can go on.

The next step in developing the writer persona is to take on an image for yourself in real life.  Dress, act, talk, and think like an artist.  Be the person you feel like when you write, and tell the stories you really want to tell.  Do not be pretentious or false, of course, but do something to remind yourself constantly that you are a unique, creative person and a craftsman in the language arts.  Your writing material will benefit from the honesty developed in the freedom of being true.  By fostering an image as a writer you will build confidence and a sense of accountability.  By striving to honor your own voice and image you will naturally push harder in your work, and the result will be improved writing.  The work you produce under the bold persona will be something “you” will be proud to share, and which the naysayer cannot undermine.

So get an attitude, dress it up, and infuse your mind with the bold ideas and stories you want to tell.  Believe that you have it, and hold on to that belief as if everything depends on it – because in a way it does.  “You” need a champion for your writing, and until “you” align yourself with a brash, even reckless hero devised from within your own soul it will always, otherwise, be plain old “you” versus the naysayer.

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4 comments on “Attitude Is (Almost) Everything

  1. John Henry Beck says:

    I never thought about dressing like a writer. It sounds a bit crazy but also fun. Thanks for the post.

  2. So I’m not the only writer who hears voices? Whew!

  3. Corrisa says:

    ♥ this post T.J. I think all people who want to achieve something but are having some struggles would benefit from “thinking” like whatever it is they want to be. Someone who wants to be fit can start thinking like a fit person instead of thinking like someone trying to be fit.

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