Thursday Thoughtfulness: May 25, 2017

(Look for this week’s #ThursdayThoughtfulness questions after the jump.)

This Week’s Questions: Do you find it easier to focus on your strengths or your weaknesses? If you picked the latter, switch your train of thought so you can focus on what you can do as opposed to what you can’t do. Does this change your perception of yourself and your abilities? How important do you think this attitude is in life overall?

Follow #ThursdayThoughtfulness at the blog and on Twitter at 11:00 AM Eastern. Feel free to spread the thoughtfulness by reblogging this post, writing your own post on this topic, or sharing the quote image on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

28 thoughts on “Thursday Thoughtfulness: May 25, 2017

  1. These are wonderful questions, Sara. I’ve been trying to retrain my brain for several months now, and it’s a message I’ve been trying to pass on to others as well. We all have that inner voice of criticism, which in some ways helps point out errors and keeps us growing.The problem becomes when it’s not offering helpful criticism and is negative and destructive. In so many ways, I’ve already seen the benefit of shifting my thoughts when I catch them being too harsh, and yet I have a long ways to go.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re welcome, Mandie. And I know exactly what you’re talking about here. Learning to tune out my inner critic has been a struggle for me too, especially recently. So I need to make an extra effort to follow this quote’s advice: to focus on what I AM good at and what I’m passionate about, and to look at challenges as opportunities for growth instead of impossibly steep mountains to climb.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Amen to to this! Both you and Mandie Hines could be speaking for me too, and I had a long conversation about the same basic choice last night with a close friend. Shifting my train of thought isn’t easy since I have a one-track mind much of the time, if I may mix a metaphor or two, but I have hope at least.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad last week’s quote has resonated with so many people. 🙂 And I know what you mean. It’s hard to change the way you think sometimes, especially when you’re used to a particular thinking pattern, be it positive or negative.

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  3. I’m having a bit of the crisis where I’m only focusing on what I can’t do instead of what I can. My WIP is in a sad state of neglect and I’m so afraid to pick it up because I’ve re-written it three times already, but I may have to do it this time as well. Before jumping in, I want to do this the right way with a plan or at least some sort of structure so I can finally say that I have a complete first draft. But when I ask myself what I do know, I haven’t been able to go beyond “I know quite a lot of words in English and have a good grasp of grammar”. This is why I haven’t written anything since March and I’m avoiding it like the plague. I’m hoping that reading some craft books will help me get out of that mindset. Thanks for the thoughtful questions, Sara! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know the feeling, Nandini! I could wallpaper my house with discarded pages. I know advice is not always helpful but it does occur to me that you’re actually on your fourth rather than first draft, even if they are not complete. Craft books can indeed help, if they don’t include too many counsels of perfection for us to over-compare with. I do try to remember what it was that first inspired my WIP, regardless of problems since then. What was the original dream and hope?

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m trying to refer to a book on outlining because I think that’s how I end up not finishing my drafts. I am a pantser by nature and it hasn’t worked out into a full draft for me thus far, so I’m trying a more planned approach. Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that helps!
        That’s great advice! 🙂 What first inspired me was this character who has bothered me since I was 10 to tell her story. (That’s almost​ 12 years ago, gosh!) The cast of characters just grew from there and now they’re all stuck, giving me an extremely uncomfortable feeling that won’t disappear till I’ve put them on paper I think. I never had any grand ideas of publishing, I just wanted to tell a good story. This memory is helping me motivate myself to forge ahead. In fact, I just picked up the outlining book again to see if I could make any progress now. Thank you so much for that precious advice! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    • First of all, I’m really glad that John’s advice gave you the confidence you were looking for to pick up the outlining book again. (I took time off from the blog this weekend and am just catching up with comments now.) I hope you’ve been able to make some progress on things since then!

      I’ve actually been having my own “writing crisis” lately, too. My confidence has been really shaky lately, and I’m struggling to trust in my story ideas and my ability to deliver on them. It’s partly why I posted that quote: It was something I needed to hear for myself. So I wish I could offer additional advice… but instead, I only feel comfortable enough to empathize with you and to hope we can both pull out of our struggles soon.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I encourage other writers partly to encourage myself by proxy! Writing is both daring and lonely, based on the hope and assumption that what we create (usually) alone will capture and hold the interest of many strangers for hours on end. But we are also readers, and give hours of our time (and some money!) to other writers who we must remember are human and fallible like us.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling as well. Perhaps a motivational writing book would help? I always turn to books when I’m feeling down. By that I mean mostly craft or non-fiction books because if I read a good fiction book, it kills all of my confidence with the “I’ll never be that good” kind of thoughts. I’m still only reading the book and not doing anything, which I hope to fix today. I wanted to be done by the end of May and there’s not much time left.
        I hope you find your confidence as well. I’m sure you have a lot of talent and some good story ideas the world needs to see. 🙂 Let me know when you get out of this feeling and how.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Unfortunately, when I experience a lack of confidence, the only way I can get through is through evidence (either in what I see in my writing or what other people tell me about my work) that I was wrong to not believe in myself. Motivational books on the craft of writing don’t always help, especially when I’m already not thinking clearly. But I was talking to one of my best friends (a Haitian woman who lived in the Montreal area for most of her life before moving to the US about 15 years ago) last night and finally got the courage to ask her a couple questions about her culture. It was something I’d been meaning to do because one of the supporting characters in my new WIP (a YA/New Adult magical realism novel) is Haitian-American. And getting those answers, as well as her input on a magical realism element concerning her character so I could understand whether I was (unintentionally) being racially insensitive (because I want to avoid making that mistake), helped quite a bit. 🙂

        About the outlining book: Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t finish reading it this week. Just keep reading it, studying it from it, and when you finish it is when you finish it. Maybe a different deadline might be a more realistic target, as long as you keep progressing through the book and find techniques or advice that you can apply to your practice. 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yay! I’m glad talking to a friend helped you with your doubts. 🙂 It’s so refreshing to see an author care about getting the representation right. I feel that internet research is not enough and talking to a person with a similar background/culture/lifestyle will help remove unintentional mistakes.
        I have one more day left. Let’s see how it goes. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks. 🙂 This is a very different story from what I’d imagined working on in the past, and I’m praying that any questions I ask or interviews I conduct for this WIP will help me portray all of the characters in a realistic yet sensitive manner. Otherwise, I don’t think I could adequately express how horrified and embarrassed I’d feel if I made such a mistake in my writing.

        Liked by 2 people

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  6. Another great quote to ponder, Sara!
    I know that in the past I’ve focused a lot on my limitations, but over the past two years I’ve learned to focus on what I can achieve. I used to compare myself too much to others so that my limitations grew bigger and overwhelming.
    I still have moments when I find myself thinking about what I can’t do, from small things like never being able to read all the books I’d like to bigger things like never being able to publish traditionally or get noticed the way I want to.
    I think the issue is that we focus a lot on what other people have achieved and worry too much about being like them instead of being who we are. Another problem for me is that I set lofty goals that doom me for failure.
    At the end of the day, it’s about finding a good balance: setting reasonable goals, recognizing what we can do reasonably and being glad that we can do that much.
    What helped me was a lot of inner reflection and learning more about myself, about who I am, what I stand for, where my talents lie. Being alone with myself helped me to know myself better and when I could see my potential, it seemed unnecessary to focus on the limitations.
    It’s definitely an attitude that makes life easier as a whole.
    Hope that makes sense 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you nailed it on the head, actually. In fact, I’m not really sure what else I can add in reply. That’s how complete your answer is for me. 🙂

      “Another problem for me is that I set lofty goals that doom me for failure.”

      I couldn’t help but think of your summer TBR post when you said this – especially with all the long books you listed! Then again, there’s nothing with having an ambitious reading list. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Reading’s one of those things where I can set a lofty goal without feeling overwhelmed because the fact of the matter is that the majority of books I own are ones I haven’t read. 😛

        So I’m already overwhelmed!

        Glad I made sense ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Even success does not remove everybody’s negativity. James Bond’s creator Ian Fleming doubted his writing so much he dictated it to his secretary and ordered her to hide each page she typed to stop him from immediately destroying his work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • He’s not the only one, either. I can’t remember specific examples, but I’ve read / heard about authors who still struggle with doubts and fears about their craft long after they were first published. Fear is part of being human, really. And in a way, it’s better to be a little bit fearful than overconfident. Because if you’re the latter, you tend to lose touch with part of your humanity.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I have a bad habit of focusing on my limitations. It’s a struggle for me to focus on what I can do but I’m working on changing my mindset. Great quote!

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  9. As much as I agree that focusing on one’s potential generally yields better results, I think we shouldn’t forget about our limitations: they’re not to stop us, they’re to give us realistic expectations, and help us to work better within our means, and to enjoy things we do: because we won’t get disappointed about not reaching the heights we might dream of, but our limitations won’t let us reach – while we still strive to get to the maximum of our potential.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely. I think it’s hard for most people to completely forget their limitations, and remembering them can ground us and give us reason to try to improve. But sometimes, some people (myself included) focus more on those weaknesses than our strengths. And doing that can kill any dream we might have for the future as well as the motivation to try to reach for it.

      In the end, it’s all about balance, like most things in life. Focus on your potential, but understand what your shortcomings are as well. Dream, but don’t forget to have reasonable expectations.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m with you when it comes to focusing too much on weaknesses. That’s why I’m more trying to turn them into something positive, because I know I can’t pretend they aren’t there–they only come back with more strength to haunt me.

        Liked by 1 person

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