October 6, 2015
Note From Rochelle
Are you planning to Write-A-Thon this year? Yup—it’s that time of year again. National Novel Writing Month starts November 1, and it’s time to plan your project! If you need help, my book Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It) can support you in planning your project, creating a writing habit that works, and keeping your butt in the chair.
This year, I’m planning a special Write-A-Thon class for people who want to write an ebook. This class is specifically designed for nonfiction writers who want to use an ebook to boost their business. If you’re in that group, click here to learn more.
Today’s tip provides a simple writing exercise that will help you become a more successful writer. Try it and see what happens!
Twice a month, I teach writing to children at the public library. Most of the exercises I teach them have a secret motive: to help them become more successful in life. Every summer, I hold a super reader workshop. During the session, I invite students to list the characteristics of super readers. When they’re done, they create small books with titles like: How to Become a Super Reader. Just today, I read that this task is scientifically proven to help them be more successful. WOW! And you can use a similar exercise to increase your success as a writer.
The Exercise: Describe the characteristics of super successful writers. Think of successful writers in general—not one specific writer—and list their behaviors, characteristics, values, lifestyle, and appearance. Take at least two minutes to describe things like: What does their day look like? How do they react in the face of failure? What habits do successful writers have? For the best results, record your answers on paper.
The Science. Jane McGonigal wrote about the study in her book, SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver, and More Resilient. In the original study—conducted at MIT and NYU—researchers invited participants to record the traits of superheroes. Afterwards, they were asked to sign up to tutor youth. When researchers looked at who signed up to volunteer, the participants who thought about superheroes were twice as likely to volunteer as those who didn’t. Three months later when researchers followed up with the study’s participants, they found that these people were “four times as likely to actually show up for a volunteering session.” (Superbetter, p. 101)
Why this works: When we consider the positive traits of a group, we compare ourselves to the group—looking primarily for similarities. Every time we consider the successful behaviors of a group—like professional writers—we become twice as likely to act like they do. (The caveat: This seems to work ONLY when participants thought about an entire group of heroes versus a single one. So, don’t think of a single successful writer, consider a bunch of them!)
Your turn: If you’re game, try this today. Feel free to record your list of traits in the comments below. Watch your behavior over the next week. Stop back next Tuesday and leave a comment about how the exercise impacted your life.