As a writer, I’ve been quite fortunate in many aspects.
Seven years ago, I self published a book that went to the top of the Amazon bestseller list, and landed me a contract six months later. Two years after that, I was able to resign my teaching position and become a full-time novelist. And two years ago, I met my literary agent through a chance meeting at a cocktail party.
Life wasn’t always so rosy, especially during my teens and early twenties. My parents’ divorce had really shaken me, and other issues/people tore at my self-esteem. By the time I was 20, I’d dropped out of three different colleges and became involved in an extremely toxic relationship. I floated from job to job and couldn’t decide on a career. Writing was one of the constants in my life, but the belief that had been ingrained in me was that I was never going to make money as a writer. I also didn’t believe I was any good as a novelist.
I wrote in my memoir about how Duran Duran’s song “Ordinary World” became a sort of lighthouse for me. But I didn’t mention the book that had changed the course of my life: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay.
In the early 90s, I had been working in a salon as a manicurist when one of my clients recommended the book to me. She must have seen that despite my liking my job, I was in a dead end in other ways. I bought the book, and was instantly riveted.
Louise’s message was this:
What you choose to think about yourself and about life becomes true for you. And we have unlimited choices about what we can think.
At the time I had never seen a book like this before. And throughout years of therapy, no one had ever offered such seemingly simple advice: You can change your life if you change your thoughts. And the way to do that was by positive affirmations.
It seemed too far-fetched at first. You mean all I have to say is “I approve of myself” and life will get better?
And yet, that is exactly what happened. Literally.
I started with I approve of myself. This was quite an effort at first, given how low my self-esteem was. I had actually believed that toxic relationship was the best I was ever going to have, that I didn’t deserve better. He used to be so manipulative and controlling that he would actually tell me how to dress and wear my hair.
Little by little, I started to believe the affirmation.
The more I said, “I approve of myself” (it would run through my head like an endless ticker sometimes, the more assertive I became. One day I insisted on wearing what I wanted. He tried to shoot me down by telling me I wasn’t beautiful anymore, said I looked “nasty.”
“On the contrary,” I replied, “I’ve never looked better.” I believed it too. More than that, I knew at that moment that I would be leaving that relationship for bigger and better things.
Opportunities and people came into my life that opened me up, raised my self-esteem, and sent me in a positive direction.
I went back to school, and this time came out with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. While in school, I used affirmations to attract a love relationship, and two weeks later I met a man on campus and we dated for several months. The night before an exam, I would send love into the situation. And so on.
Any time I found myself desiring something—a new apartment, to publish a novel, my dream car—I offered affirmations and surrendered the outcome. Things and situations didn’t always work out so perfectly overnight, and sometimes I struggled a great deal, but in some cases the results were even better than anything I’d visualized.
In my latest novel, Big Skye Littleton, I even passed on the affirmation “I approve of myself” to Skye, who needed it as badly as I once had.
Louise Hay passed away last week—she was 90 years old—and I was more affected by the news than I’d expected to be.
This past year I’ve been challenged with lower royalties, and a novel (The Second First Time) that launched almost one year ago had been a major commercial disappointment. I also found myself adjusting to married life (not that that was unhappy) and at times I was overwhelmed.
Upon hearing of Louise’s death, I transported back to the first time I had read You Can Heal Your Life. I pulled the book from the shelf—my copy is over 20 years old, and it is well worn (see photos below)—and held it lovingly in my hands. And I wondered: What thoughts had contributed to the situations I’d been finding myself in lately? I’ve spent the last year making a gratitude list every morning, but when was the last time I’d used affirmations like a mantra? When was the last time I’d said “I approve of myself” and meant it?
I began to read the book yet again—each time I read it, I either connect to something in a way I haven’t before, or discover something completely new about myself. I realized that I’d spent much the year blaming others for the novel’s sales failure. I’d also spent a lot of time focusing on thoughts of being overwhelmed rather than trusting that the change was good.
Thus, I wrote new affirmations. I changed my thinking about The Second First Time, and the dip in royalties. I did more than express gratitude.
Sure enough, in the last four days, sales of The Second First Time are the highest they’ve been—they’re nowhere near the bestsellers list (yet!), but seeing the uptick has been so delightful… I’d forgotten how much fun writing and reciting affirmations could be.
You know how at the beginning of every episode of The Simpsons, we see Bart writing on the blackboard as punishment of his latest mischief? That’s what I do with my affirmations.
I write them five, ten times in a row (sometimes even more!) followed by repeated recitation of them—but they’re far from punishment.
And so, in honor of Louise, I decided to offer writers some affirmations to try. You can choose one or two of these that you connect with, or use them as inspiration and/or motivation to write and recite your own. Write them five or ten times in a row, and recite them five or ten times as well. Do this as often as you can.
If you’re struggling with writer’s block or are having trouble getting started, try one or two of these affirmations:
Divine Intelligence gives me all the ideas I need.
I relax and let life easily and comfortably provide me with everything I need. Writing is for me.
I trust in the writing process and my skills to compose and create.
My creativity is ever flowing. I go with the flow.
I attract the right words, sentences, and paragraphs at the right time.
Writing is a joy. Writing is fun!
If you’re struggling with being too self-critical (and what writer hasn’t struggled with that?), try one or two of these affirmations:
I approve of myself. (I recommend this one in any or every situation.)
There is plenty of talent and creativity to go around.
I love and accept myself and where I am right now. (Also good for writer’s block.)
I lovingly forgive myself. I am free.
I see with love and understanding. I hold all my experiences up to the light of love.
I recognize my own true worth.
If you desire to make writing your career, want to revive your writing career, or are fighting old beliefs that “there’s no money in writing,” try one or two of these affirmations:
My unique creative talents and abilities flow through me and are expressed in deeply satisfying ways.
My books attract plenty of readers.
I earn good money doing what satisfies me.
My work is a joy and a pleasure.
I have within me all the ingredients for success.
I establish a new awareness of success and prosperity.
I am worthy of success as a writer, and I accept it now.
I am making good money as a writer.
My good comes from everywhere and everyone.
You may feel resistance when you say some of these affirmations. They may even feel like outright lies. Acknowledge and work through those feelings. Remember: “What you choose to think about yourself and about life becomes true for you. And we have unlimited choices about what we can think.” Continue to say them until they are more than beliefs—they are truth for you.
30-Day Activity: Choose one or two affirmations from any or all of these categories, or use them as inspiration and/or motivation to write and recite your own. Write them five or ten times in a row, and recite them five or ten times as well. Do this for 30 days straight.