The Mind-set of Successful Writers By Damaris Irungu Ochieng’

Hello dear writer!

If this is the year you’ve decided to make it big out here as a writer, then what better way than to get the right (write) mind-set to help you win! Having the right mind-set on this journey of being a writer is critical to your survival and better yet, to your thriving. So a few tips on mind-set that have helped me thrive in this Industry for over 12 years now.

  1. This journey is a marathon, not a sprint: I have taken my writing journey as a marathon and not a sprint, I know I will not learn everything I need to learn over- night, I will make some mistakes along the way, but I will not drop out of the race, I will keep running, slowly but surely, I will get there. This kind of mind-set allows me to enjoy the writing process that entails writing and rewriting as I learn and unlearn, it helps me learn from my mistakes and allows me to experiment. It helps me to endure when challenges come my way because I know, if I keep at it, steadily enough, I will get to the finish line a winner.
  2. Run your own race, not your friends or neighbours:

Sometimes we think it’s only teens who fall for peer pressure, but peer pressure is more prevalent in adults than we imagine. How does it make you feel when your friend releases their film that becomes a hit? Or when they land an awesome deal? Don’t compare yourself to others. You are running your own race, you’ve been gifted differently, accept what you’re made of and run your own race. It is not a competition.  A few months after my maternity leave, I went back to the tracking field near my home, and I attempted to run, I thought I was running, until an old man in his probably 80’s overlapped me, I could not take it, I tried to run faster and got injuries. I was trying to run this guys’ race, a guy who had been running all the months I was on maternity leave. The only thing that competing did for me was to give me an injury that slowed me down and I didn’t run for another 2 months. So ignore those ones running alongside you who seem to be overlapping you, run your race and you should be okay.

3. No one is perfect:  Perfectionism can cripple you. I take comfort in knowing that even the big shots do it afraid, no one knows that what they’re working on will work for sure, they just do it afraid, why then should you cripple yourself with perfectionism? Just do it.

4. Quit the blame game: The moment you turned 18 you became responsible for your life. I know when Lupita Ny’ongo won the Oscar for best supporting actress, some of my acquaintances in the Kenyan Film scene started talking of the unfair advantage, saying her parents were able to educate her in one of the best acting colleges in the world yadadadaa…Well, there are so many actors who’ve been through Yale and don’t have an Oscar, and there are so many others who haven’t been to Yale and have Oscars. Let’s not blame life circumstances for our failures in life. As long as you are breathing, alive and kicking, go after your dreams with zeal and know that you are fully responsible for what you can change. For what you can’t change, pray for God’s grace to accept it. Take personal initiative for your life and quit the blame game.

5. Quit the entitlement: I notice with concern that a lot of upcoming artists walk around feeling that the world owes them. I’m sorry to burst that bubble. No one owes you anything, the world has so many gifted writers and artists, all with great amazing projects and ideas. If you keep that in mind, it will help you stay humble and work harder at your projects, it will help you get the right attitude when your pitch is rejected and you will know it’s not a personal attack but just business. When you understand that no one owes you anything, then you will work on networking and creating relationships that can propel your idea to the next level.

6. Be productive not busy: There’s a huge difference between busy people and productive people. Productive people get things done, use their time wisely and finish up projects. Busy people are not in control of their time, are overwhelmed and have a lot of half- done projects. Where do you fall? Are you productive or just busy? Take a close look at your life and know the difference is what will get you further in your career, don’t be busy with nothing to show for all the time you claim you spend writing and researching.  

7. Banish the word Impossible from your vocabulary:  The word Impossible could make or break your writing career, you might be thinking of this really cool story idea, then immediately pour water on it with the words Impossible. I honestly don’t believe things are impossible until I have tried and tried, if I had believed in the words impossible I would not have found myself pitching inside Harpo Studio’s through skype right from the comfort of my home here in Kenya, I’ll be sharing on my podcast and blog soon about my experience pitching at Harpo Studios, but the point is, don’t’ let the word ‘Impossible stop you from reaching for the sky.

8. Believe in yourself: If you don’t remember anything else about what I’ve written on mind-set, please make sure you remember this point and have it close to your heart. You are your own best cheerleader. No one else will cheer you and nudge you on, you have to do this yourself and for yourself. The world around us can be cruel and fill us with self- doubt about our capabilities. There’s a wise saying that reads ‘ If you don’t believe in something you will fall for anything’. Meaning if you don’t believe in your God given gift/talent of writing, if you don’t believe you have it, then when your work is negatively criticized, the blow might be too hard to recover from, but when you believe in yourself, then criticism will help you become a better, tougher writer and your light will shine on this earth. So no matter what, always believe in yourself and your gift and work hard to make sure you don’t do a disservice to your God given gift.

Happy Creating and Writing!

And please share this article with your writer friends! TIA

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