Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Write Attitude

by Debby Giusti

What makes the difference between a person who moves forward with their writing despite rejection and those who give up and forsake their dream?


Hymen’s is a restaurant located on Meeting Street in Charleston, South Carolina’s historic district. It’s a no-frills type of place that specializes in great seafood and quality service. Everyone who’s employed there—from the Hymen brothers who own the business to the busboys and dishwashers—work hard to uphold the excellent reputation that keeps customers coming back year after year. Attitude is so important at Hymen’s that the company policy, a piece written by Chuck Swindoll, is given out to everyone who comes through the door.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company. . . a church. . . a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. . . we cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. . . I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you . . . we are in charge of our attitudes. ~Charles Swindoll~

I keep my copy of Swindoll’s words near my computer as a reminder of the importance of having the right mindset in this industry.

Yes, even published writers worry. Will the editors like the next story idea? Will I finish my current work in progress on deadline? Is my writing improving?

In her book, THE ARTIST’S WAY, Julia Cameron talks about the negative voices that bubble up when we reach for the stars. “Why do you think you can write a book?” that voice taunts. “You’ve written one book, but can you write a second?”

Cameron advises countering the negative by writing positive phrases over and over again on a sheet of notebook paper, just as a child would do who’s been disruptive and has to copy I will not talk in class fifty times. The repetition arms us with ammunition to shoot down the negative inner rhetoric so positive progress can be made.

A Nike advertisement provides the following words of encouragement:

All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. They will tell you no, a thousand times no, until all the no's become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. And you will tell them yes!
~Nike ad~

Frank Soldovere was a great man and good friend who worked hard to make this world a better place. Everyone who attended his funeral was given a card with the following passage by Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat. ~Theodore Roosevelt~

Attitude is a choice we make everyday that gives us the courage to move forward with our writing career. People will tell us we’re crazy. The inner voice calls us a fool. Editors may reject our stories, but we remain focused on our dream, and because we believe in ourselves and in our work, we overcome the odds and succeed.

Attitude—the Write Attitude—makes the difference between someone who wants to write and someone who does.

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti


Patty Wysong said...

Yup. I needed that one today.

Cat Schield said...

That was a great, wonderful, inspiring wagonful of advice. Thanks for the terrific post.


Debby Giusti said...

Hi Patty and Cat!
Thanks for stopping by. I can't upload the photo I wanted to use, thus the empty box at the start of the post!

Have a great day and happy writing!

Ann said...

That was read-aloud worthy, Debby. Firstly to me, then to my kids.

We are up to our eyeballs in decorator icing for DD's 4-H cake project and I needed an encouraging word. Especially after the partially iced cake slid off the board. Fortunately it's styrofoam -- only the icing is real.

BTW ... I am not going to offer up this particular white cake here at Seekerville b/c now you know our secret!

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

You are so WRITE! Debby!

Attitude is everything in life, especially in a writers life.

I've said numerous times, if you can't take rejection and keep on writing, you're in the wrong business.

Great Post!

Debby Giusti said...

Well, my graphic finally showed up on the blog so I'm happy! :)

Also happy to hear from all of you.

Ann, good luck to you and the kids on your 4H Cake Project!!! Iced styrofoam? Who would have thought?

Keeping fingers crossed your project takes the cake! YIKES, I must have had too much coffee this morning!

Ed J. Horton said...

Thanks, Debby! I needed to read your words, and those of Chuck Swindoll. I realize that my attitude has 'gone quiet,' not negative, just not necessarily positive either. The referenced negative voices have been taunting and now it's time for me to choose to be courageous and continue moving forward with this writing gig.

Jessica said...

Wow, great quotes! I really liked Roosevelts.
It's so true about attitude. It probably affects everything else, like our perseverance and stuff.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Wow, Debbie, how inspirational!!! I suddenly feel really good about myself, because I've dared greatly and been defeated! No, wait, that doesn't sound quite right. But you know what I mean!

Seriously, the only thing that keeps me going sometimes is hope. And hope is from God, a gift from the Creator. Like the Holy Spirit, sometimes I don't know where it comes from, but it's always there, keeping me going.

I can always use more encouragement, so I'll have to print this out and put it where I can see it. Thanks, Debby!!!

Janet Dean said...

Debby, your post rings with truth! Even when we dare to forge ahead and follow our dreams, attitude can either ease our progress or hinder it. Thanks for the reminder and the encouraging quotes!

I've brought a stack of waffles this morning. Go ahead, fill the indentions with syrup and melted butter. Hmm, delicous.

Like those waffles, life presses on us, leaving some dents. When we cover them with a good attitude, they're easier to swallow.


Debby Giusti said...

Pamela, you're WRITE on!!! :)

Attitude is everything, and unfortunately, rejection -- as you mentioned -- is part of the business. Although it's still the part I don't like.

Debby Giusti said...

HI Ed,
Loved your mention of an attitude going quiet!!! A great description!

Try Julia Cameron's trick with writing positive phrases, like I AM A WRITER, MY WORK WILL SELL, oodles of times and then post the sheet near your computer.

Another Cameron suggestion I found helpful is to write in longhand three pages of whatever comes to mind first thing in the morning. Aptly, she calls them Morning Pages and says our scribbles will give voice to the baggage we carry around, thus freeing us to focus on our creative writing instead of inner negative distractions.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Jessica,
Glad you stopped by!

The quote from Roosevelt was taken from a speech he gave at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, in 1910, but it's so applicable for us today.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Melanie!
It's always good to read your comments and today was no exception. You wrote:

~~Seriously, the only thing that keeps me going sometimes is hope. And hope is from God, a gift from the Creator.~~

Having the WRITE ATTITUDE requires hope, doesn't it? And you're WRITE. Hope does come from God.

Plus, you have dared greatly and you are reaping success by getting an agent! You go, girl!

Debby Giusti said...

Janet, I love how you tied life, waffles, dents and attitude together! So WRITE on!

FYI, Janet, Missy and I are doing a program at the RWA National Convention, on Friday, August 1, 3:15 pm, entitled "FIRST YEAR ON THE JOB: From "The Call" to Publication. I hope those of you attending the conference will be able to join us for the workshop.

Myra Johnson said...

Great inspiration to start the day, Debby!

I've read Julia Cameron and have whole notebooks full of "morning pages." The problem was, I got tired of "hearing" myself whine about the same things day after day after day. In many ways it was purging but came to feel like so much self-indulgence, one long pity party.

So I still journal almost every weekday, but normally just a page or so. I jot down anything that jumps out at me from my devotional reading, sort out my thoughts, perhaps analyze the previous day's happenings, and offer some prayers for the day ahead.

And the hope, of course, is that I'll get my attitude adjusted in the process. Sometimes yes ... unfortunately not as often as I'd like. ;>)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Debbi, Great to hear from you and what inspiring words. Thanks for reminding us.

btw I have maple syrup for those waffles. yum

I keep Mark 11:22+ by my work. If you believe and have faith the mountain will be moved. Well moving a mountain is as big as getting a contract in this business. chuckle. So I believe.

I love all the other quotes and will add them to the list that keeps me going. Thanks Debbi

Sandra Leesmith said...

oooh sorry Debby. I keep spelling your name with an i. Loved your last book by the way. If you want an exciting read out there, get Debbi's Love Inspired Suspense novels. They are great.

LauraLee Shaw said...

I'll be printing that quote from Swindoll and following your lead on keeping it near me as I write. My husband has a tshirt that says: "Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?" I've noticed he wears it on my grouchy days, so I think he's learned to communicate without saying anything. ;)

Powerful stuff.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Debby, excellent post! I especially love and related to the Chuck Swindoll thing you mentioned where he said, "I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it."

Great post!

Ann, can we have a spoonful of that icing at least? (Veers a hand toward the bowl.....) Snicker. Snicker.


Joanne Sher said...

I LOVE that Swindoll quote. I'd put it up by my computer too, if it weren't a laptop (LOL). I KNOW for a fact that he is right. Thanks so much for the inspiration and reminder - and so many of those other quotes are wonderful too.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Myra,
I did morning pages for a few months when my attitude and outlook on writing was pretty low. It helped me sort out some of the negative misgivings I had stashed away deep down inside.

Debby Giusti said...


Mark 11:22? Love that scripture verse! From now on whenever I hear it, I'll think of you!

You're moving mountains, Sandra, and good things are bound to follow!!!

Thanks for your sweet words about my books! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Love the quote on your hubby's T-shirt! I cut and pasted and added to my motivational quote file! Thanks!

Hey, doubt you could ever be grouchy!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Cheryl,

Talk about the WRITE ATTITUDE. You're my role model.

Don't think I've ever seen you down, despite leg problems, surgery, a fall, injury, etc. You rock!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Joann!

I work on a laptop too. But I've got sticky post-it notes all over my desk. Some would call it clutter; I call it inspiration!

Myra Johnson said...

You had a low outlook about writing for a few months??? LOL, Debby! I'm glad my years and years of journaling are not up for public viewing!

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks for catching that error, Myra!!! But I did say "pretty" low. Actually, I believe I almost gave up those last few years before publication. Sure, I was going through the motions of writing, but I wasn't producing much.

My goal had always been to publish before I died (think tongue in cheek here), but I was beginning to think I'd die before I'd ever see my name in print! :)

For a year and a half before I got The Call, I was in a critique group with a published author, a copyeditor and an high school AP English teacher. We met for at least four hours each week and went over our work with a fine-toothed comb. Actually sliced and diced might be a better description. What came out of that time period was a book Steeple Hill wanted to buy.

Myra Johnson said...

Wow, what a great crit group you had, Debby! A fantastic mix of talents and skills, and it really paid off!

Janet Dean said...

Debby, love how you got in a plug for our RWA workshop. We'd impress Krista if we filled the room so help us out, please!


Debby Giusti said...

Janet, you're right/WRITE! We'd love a full room like we had last year when we gave our workshop at Nationals.

If anyone is interested in submitting to Steeple Hill, Senior Editor Krista Stroever gives out great info! In fact, she talks about the editor/writer relationship in a no-nonsense way we all need to hear.

Be sure to put it on your MUST ATTEND list if you're going to Nationals.

Missy Tippens said...

Thanks, Debby, for such an inspiring post!

I try to stay positive all the time. And I like to be around people who keep a positive attitude. (Debby is one of them!) :)

Great quotes. Thanks for sharing.


Tina M. Russo said...

Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses. Jack Bickham.

This was awesome, Deb. Although I admit I had a smart mouth moment at the beginning of you post and in answer to your first question ( the answer was attitude) I did want to insert INSANITY.

Sometimes I feel delusional for sticking it out.

But hey a winner is someone who picks themselves more time...

Janet Dean said...

Myra, like you, I felt like a whiner writing "morning pages." My cp and friend, Shirley Jump keeps a gratitude journal. She writes what she's grateful for on the front and prayers on the back of each daily page. It's a sure way to keep a positive attitude. I intend to do the same.


Debby Giusti said...

Hi Miss Positive Missy!!! Thanks for stopping by tonight.

Missy, Janet and I will also be at the Faith, Hope and Love Conference on Wednesday, July 30th. If anyone hasn't made a reservation, there are a few more slots available. It'll be a great day, and a wonderful opportunity to mingle with editors and agents as well as enjoy workshops by some of our top inspirational authors!

Debby Giusti said...

Ah, Tina! Insanity? Sometimes it feels like that, doesn't it?

But you're already there--Web mistress for a major national organization and freelance writer who sells to some of the top magazines in the country! That spells success in my book!

Debby Giusti said...

Janet, I love the idea of a gratitude journal.

I've never journaled on a regular basis. Keep thinking it might be time.

Maybe the gratitude journal is the answer! Thanks for sharing!

Sandra Leesmith said...

I love the gratitude journal idea too. I need to start one NOW. I'm grateful for such great advice on this blog. Thanks fellow writers.

Conni said...

Wow, Debbie. Thank you. I recently wrote the blog Facing Fear and your article today was like a shot in the arm from the other side. I've copied each saying and have taped them around my computer. I do the positive journaling, so it was nice to hear I'm on the "write" track.