I am a worrier. My mind often leaps to the worst case scenario. When someone is late, I wonder if there was a car crash. When I hear a bump in the night, my first thought is often kidnapper. I’ve gotten better at dismissing these thoughts over time, but still it is exhausting. I think this is a common thought pattern among a lot of writers. In order to create stories where bad things happen to our characters (the essence of plot) we need to have this kind of imagination.
Two weeks ago, I was taking a public speaking workshop and the teacher said something that made me reconsider these thoughts. She said that it is just as easy to imagine all the possible positive outcomes as it is to picture the worst case scenario. In the realm of reading in public, we were asked to imagine everyone loving our stories, people laughing in all the right places, even an editor hearing what we wrote and offering us book deals. Picturing these things happening totally changed the way I read.
Since that class, when I find myself getting irrationally nervous about something (i.e. shopping for new jeans, worrying about not having made enough food for a brunch I had at my apartment) I’ve made myself picture the best case scenario. And both times the best case scenario happened. I had tons of leftovers after my brunch and every pair of jeans I tried on in Top Shop looked great.
I’m trying to apply this lesson to my writing. I can get very tripped up self-editing as I write. This is especially true right now, because I’m working on a new novel and showing my class pages every week. It is easy to be thinking everyone will hate this or this will be the worst in the class while I’m in the midst of writing. Even though that has never happened.
So now when I stop typing this and start working on my homework for class next Tuesday I’m going to try to remember what my public speaking teacher said. I’m going to try to think to myself my teacher will love my story and everyone will laugh at the jokes I write and these pages will turn into a novel that I finish and love.
Even if those things don’t come true, it’s better than imagining the worst case scenario.