Thursday, 13 March 2014

Positively Productive Writing

I bought The Positively Productive Writer by Simon Whaley a while ago, after reading good reviews, and finally got around to reading it at the beginning of this week. I'm glad I did. If you're assuming it's full of hippy-trippy tripe about how everyone is a fantastic writer, you're wrong. Yes, it's unabashedly optimistic, but it's also realistic.

Simon Whaley provides loads of practical advice and encouragement. The book's key theme is coping with rejection: what to do instead of crying and quitting writing forever when the inevitable rejections pile up. The flip side of that is, of course, having the courage to submit work in the first place.

If you've read my recent blog posts, especially How to Be a More Assertive Writer, you will recognise how closely The Positively Productive Writer fits my current state of mind. In fact, my favourite idea in the book is similar to one I suggested in How to Be a More Assertive Writer using booster cards.

I suggested a classic CBT technique: writing your negative thoughts and more realistic responses to them on flashcards. For example: "I will never be published" and "If you never submit work, you never will be published. If you submit your writing frequently, there is a good chance you will be published because your writing is just as good as a lot of published work". 

Simon Whaley's booster cards, on the other hand, are reminders of your strengths and achievements. If you've ever had anything published - even a letter in the local newspaper - he says you must write "I am a published writer" on a card. If you write, you should write one saying "I am a writer! I am writing now!" and if you submit your work and get rejections, you should celebrate having the courage to submit by writing "I get rejections!"

So which is better?

Neither. Both sets of cards are valuable. Simon Whaley's are great for when you feel the sting of a fresh rejection or the despair of thinking you're not a "proper" writer. The negative thoughts/responses are good for those times when you're sure you will never be successful and anything you do is futile. I'm certainly going to use both sets of cards.

If you're in need of a boost, I recommend you buy The Positively Productive Writer by Simon Whaley and try his other ideas too. Or just read - it's like being given a good pep talk and a kick up the arse!


  1. This book sounds fantastic and really encouraging, Hayley. I always struggle with telling people I'm a writer. I feel I must add that they won't have heard of me and I don't earn much money from it, as if I don't actually deserve the title, or as if it isn't a 'proper' job. I am very positive on the inside, but always talk down my achievements to other people. So before I next do any socialising - a rare event! - I think I could do with writing myself some reminders of who I am. x

    1. You should - talk yourself up! It's strange that writers seem particularly reluctant to own their achievements, or even call themselves writers, compared to, say, musicians and artists. People I know who pursue other creative careers are extremely proud of their success and don't hesitate to talk about it, whereas I always feel a bit embarrassed when talking about my writing - despite most people being very encouraging!

  2. I'd heard of this but haven't read it yet, Hayley - will put it on my TBR list as I love positive thinking!