How To Adopt a Writing Mindset

The word “success” has various meanings. Some writers stay laser-focused on the end result, but I propose that we step back, slow down, and view success as footprints in the sand. Each footprint represents one day.

Will you step into that print or let it wash away in the tide?

Success is about adopting a growth mindset. Every morning I watch the sunrise. Why? Because it grounds me with a positive mindset for the day. If you roll over and slap the snooze button, dreading the day ahead, you’ll start the day with a negative mindset. Things tend to roll downhill from there.

Have you ever heard a writer complain that they’re just not any good at writing? That’s called a fixed mindset. Their mind is made up. They will never be a good writer. Period. End.

A growth mindset is positivity based. The writer with a growth mindset says, “I may not be the best writer today, but I will be.”

See the difference?

The writer with the growth mindset is stepping into the footprint to see where it leads. The writer with the fixed mindset would rather complain about writing on social media and let the footprint melt away in the tide.

Success is not about how many books you’ve sold, the amount of traffic to your blog, or even an article going viral. Instead, success is about progress, growth, and moving forward. That type of success is sustainable and filled with joy. We often say writing is a marathon, not a sprint, and there’s a reason for that. By celebrating small successes along the way to that big dream, we give ourselves positive reinforcement, we cheer ourselves on, we maintain a positive and joyous mindset.

Embrace your potential.

Understand that good writing is not a natural talent. It’s earned through study and practice and showing up every day.

If you struggle with a negative mindset, flip the script.

  • Where the negative writer sees a problem, the positive writer seizes the opportunity to grow and learn.
  • When the negative writer doesn’t know an answer and gives up, the positive writer researches the problem.
  • Where the negative writer sees criticism, the positive writer appreciates the feedback.
  • Where the negative writer might feel jealously, the positive writer feels admiration.
  • Where the negative writer might find something too hard, the positive writer knows the hard work will be worthwhile in the end.

People in general who believe that their efforts and strategies can lead to success are likely to engage in learning activities and take on challenges with enthusiasm, so they learn more, which reinforces their belief that they can learn to write well. In fact, according to some psychologists, this confidence, or self-efficacy, is central to motivation and learning.

What is a writing mindset?

It’s how we think about writing. Because I start the day with a positive mindset, I can’t wait to get to my keyboard. I know I’m gonna have a great day. Why? Because a writing mindset supports creative work.

How we approach and frame our writing problems lead to positive or negative outcomes. Working on developing a growth mindset will support your writing process.

So, for example, if you believe you can only write on Monday mornings from 8-10 a.m., you’re already making decisions about your ability to write on a Tuesday or a Wednesday or a Saturday, so if you slip behind the keyboard on any other day but Monday, it’ll be harder to write. You’ve handicapped your creativity with a fixed (negative) mindset.

How do we develop a writing mindset?

It’s about thinking that supports creativity, productivity, and persistence within our written work. It’s about reframing negative thought patterns. For example, I am not a poet, but I would never say I couldn’t write a poem. I would never say I couldn’t write anything. That’s not a self-serving statement. It stems from the knowledge that I can learn to write anything I want. And so can you!

A writing mindset challenges negativity and forces us to examine where negative thoughts stem from. Fear? Anxiety? Low self-esteem?

Writers with a growth mindset rarely, if ever, experience writer’s block. Why? Because we’ve harnessed the power of self-belief and positivity.

Benefits of a Writing/Growth Mindset

  • You will feel more in control of your writing.
  • Writing won’t feel so elusive and magical (magical meaning, to the point where you can’t replicate it).
  • You’ll be able to decide when and where you write rather than waiting for motivation or inspiration.
  • You’ll learn to show up and put in the hours.
  • You’ll step into the next footprint to see where it leads.

Okie doke, my beloved TKZers. There’s your Monday morning pep-talk. Now, go seize the day!

This entry was posted in #amwriting, #writerslife, #writing, #WritingCommunity, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , by Sue Coletta. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sue Coletta

Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and named her Murder Blog as “Best 100 Crime Blogs on the Net.” She also blogs at the Kill Zone (Writer's Digest "101 Best Websites for Writers") and Writers Helping Writers. Sue lives with her husband in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Her backlist includes psychological thrillers, the Mayhem Series (books 1-3) and Grafton County Series, and true crime/narrative nonfiction. Now, she exclusively writes eco-thrillers, Mayhem Series (books 4-7 and continuing). Sue's appeared on the Emmy award-winning true crime series, Storm of Suspicion, and three episodes of A Time to Kill on Investigation Discovery. Learn more about Sue and her books at

27 thoughts on “How To Adopt a Writing Mindset

  1. What a great post to wake up to this Monday morning, Sue!

    We can’t control whether a publisher or agent accepts or rejects, whether a book becomes a bestseller, whether a blizzard knocks out the electricity, etc.

    But we *can* control whether we write or not.

    Thanks for the pep talk! Now I gotta get writing.

  2. And it’s fun to see that growth. When I first started out, I voraciously devoured books on writing to form the foundation but what I have realized over time is that while I understood the advice I read on a somewhat impersonal level, it takes time for the actual practice of it to ‘click’ and be real to me. Example: Early on you are taught about the use of dialogue and why it’s important. White space on the page, showing, not telling, etc. But it took time between reading about how to write dialogue and looking at my work and saying “Hey! Now I see what they really meant!” 😎

    It’s those very growth moments that make the journey worthwhile.

    • Precisely, Brenda! Couldn’t have said it better. When that first piece of craft advice clicks, it’s an unforgettable moment in our journey.

      Happy writing!

  3. Thanks I needed this today. My brain is so full of negative thoughts its blocking my characters from talking to me. This is my 23rd book and yet each book seems to be more of a struggle. I guess that’s an example of the more you know, the more you have to fret about.

  4. Sue, having a weekly quota of words has helped me stay in a writer’s mindset for over a quarter of a century. When you complete your word count even on days where it’s a slog, it produces great confidence in you that you really are a writer.

    So…Carpe Typem!

    • A quarter century is just incredible, Jim. I prefer scenes to word counts. It’s easier for me to block out while writing. And I learned a cool trick. By stopping mid-scene, it’s easier to pick up where I left off the next day.

      Carpe Typem!

  5. Man I needed this awesome pep-talk this morning, Sue! I’m under on the deadline gun on A Shush Before Dying and doubting myself and my writing. Yet, as I lean into the rewrite, I feel the neural connections being made. There I was yesterday, beside my wife in the theater as we watched the Ant-Man film, and my mind kept going back to A Shush and I what I needed to do.

    It’s good to remember the progress we’ve made. It’s vital, as you point out, to not limit ourself with a negative mindset, but take a growth mindset. Flip the script. Yes! This is the way.

    Thank you so much for this post today!

    I’m got my AC/DC “fire-me up” motivational little playlist on–“It’s a long way to the top if we want to rock-in roll” and “Thunderstruck.” May we all have a fantastic week. Here’s to words!

  6. Very nice, Sue! In church, yesterday, people thought I was taking notes during the sermon. I wasn’t. I was making a diagram for my n-f WIP, which has been resisting completion for a long time.

  7. Love the post, and I haven’t thought about growth mindset since philosophy class in university.

    I’ve just switched from writing first draft mode to revising mode, and this post really got me excited.

  8. I’ve always seen the glass as full, never empty and that I could do anything I set my mind to do, even dancing (I look like Elaine on Seinfeld). And that carried over into writing. Great pep talk!

  9. Nice piece, Sue. Good stuff. Someone said, (according to Google, it was Henry Ford) “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you’re right.”

    I really like your lines, “Success is not about how many books you’ve sold, the amount of traffic to your blog, or even an article going viral. Instead, success is about progress, growth, and moving forward. That type of success is sustainable and filled with joy.” So bleepin’ true!

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