One of the most powerful tools in your writing life arsenal is this: Simple belief in forward motion.
Right? Overly loud confidence is too easily deflated; zero confidence means you never make it to the desk in the first place.
Confidence in your writing abilities and a bright future: that can be shot down in an instant. (Says the girl who is wading through a difficult draft today...)
But belief in forward motion, belief in getting today's work done, belief in taking the next step--that all holds true. Whether you feel like a genius or, um, distinctly un-clever.
And this is why I've stopped writing in my pajamas.
It's one of those things you hear about in writing circles (or really, among anyone who has the privilege of working from home):
"And I did all this work while wearing my pajamas!" "I was wearing my bunny slippers while writing that incredible scene."
To that I say: That's great. Really, that's nice.
But that has stopped working for me.
Here's what I realized: I feel a lot less able to take over the world with my story when I'm lolling around in overstretched yoga pants.
All those days writing in pajamas, or writing in lousy old clothes... I noticed this surreptitious discouragement creeping in.
It was slight. I thought it was just a general "I can't do this" malaise.
But then the people I live with get dressed for work and go out into the real world. And I'd sit at my desk typing away in my pjs, feeling sluggish, looking sluggish, and wondering why I felt so unmotivated.
If anyone came to the door, I felt apologetic about my sloppy appearance. Tempted to hide.
And then I'd go back to my desk, trying to write difficult scenes, trying to bring my best mental game to my work, and it hit me. It clicked.
I want to think like a professional. I want to write like a professional. And I don't want to apologize for what I do, or how I do it. Not to other people. Not to myself. I don't want my words to hide. Ever.
So maybe it was time for the rest of my writing life to look more professional. Less apologetic.
And I said goodbye to the sloppy work outfit.
Why give doubt any ground? A sartorial swap is a small price to pay for a bit more enthusiasm about my day's work.
Okay, don't worry: I'm not wearing a three-piece suit either. I didn't go overboard on this. I still keep it simple, I'm still very comfortable. (For the love of sentences, don't wear something hyper-restrictive when you're writing! Your words will come out sideways and cramped and buttoned too tight.)
I don't look like I'm ready for a photo shoot. But I don't look like I'm taking a sick day, either.
But for you--maybe it's not your clothes that whisper doubtful things to you. Maybe it's your surroundings. Desk drawers that don't shut right. Overflowing file folders. A fistful of pens that don't work. Shabby tools.
Here's the thing, my lionhearted writing friend: Sometimes, you're surrounding yourself with things that tell you that you can't do this work. Things that say, you aren't professional. Or that this work isn't as important to you as it really really is.
Sometimes, what's around you is what's telling you that you can't.
You're the boss. Fire the shabby.
Kick it right out of your office.
What little things could you change about where and how you work, that communicate a bit more belief in what you do?
Make those changes this week. Embrace a new work uniform. Clear out those drawers.
It's one of those simple boosts that can help you move forward with more purpose.