Sunday, January 6, 2013

"git er done"

Without knowing it, some time over the past couple of years I seem to have developed a mantra that works well for me--in my writing and in my life. A mantra is a sound (think: "Om'm'm..."), a word, or a group of words that, with repetition, is believed to bring about transformation.

Sesa Woruban
Symbol of life transformation

For example, in a situation where you are worried or anxious (for example, pitching your book to an agent), repeating the words "calm down" or "peace" while you wait in line might help quiet your nerves. Say it clearly to yourself. Mindfully. With intention.

A mantra is different from a motto. A motto expresses a principle, goal or ideal that you live by.

"Carpe diem."--Horace
"Do small things with great love."--Mother Theresa
"Be the change you wish to see in the world."--Ghandi
I didn't acquire a mantra with the help of some wizened guru. I didn't study the history or belief systems that claim to harness the transformational energy of the mantra. Nor did I enter into some deep meditative state while sitting cross-legged on my yoga mat to access its benefits.

 It just came to me at the end of a bad writing day. A really bad day.

My mantra is:
When I got ready to shut down my laptop that day and realized how unhappy I was with what I'd written...

...I was too tired and frustrated to go on with it. Instead, I told myself, "I can make this better. Tomorrow I can make it better."

The next day, when I reread the scene, I told myself, "I can make this better."

When this happens you may have to slow down and think things through for a while. You may have to study up a little before you figure out what it's going to take. You might not be able to make it happen right away...but you know you can make it better.

And that's what keeps you going: the desire, the determination, and the intention to make it better.

Determination - Little Pine

Sometimes this means breathing new life into a character. Or clipping some dialogue. Or raising the stakes. What is missing one day shows up the next.

Maintaining a positive, optimistic attitude can be difficult for a novelist because the undertaking is so fearsome, and it takes so long. You may be tempted to rush through it or to settle for less just to get the *#&*%! thing finished so you can move onto something else. Something "better."

Don't do it! End every day with the conviction that tomorrow, no matter what you are working on--a scene in your book, the lyrics to a song, or a drawing--you can make it better!

Begin each day eager to get back to it because you know that you can "git-er-done!"

Do you have a mantra that gets you through the day? What's your motto?
"If you can dream  it
you can do it."
--Walt Disney--
Re: Les Miserables: I can't decide what to do--see the movie again (it swept me away), or read the book again, or both. What would you do?



  1. Let it go...just...let it go. That's mine.

  2. I fear your mantra doesn't work well for me. I get caught up in "I can make this better" and just keep re-writing the same scene over and over. I need something more like, "Okay, it works. Move on." Maybe that's closer to "Let it go."

    Re. Les Miz - see the movie again. Just for the music. (And Anne Hathaway's performance.)

  3. We have had several mottos over the years.

    The one that works right now is "It will be better tomorrow."

  4. See the movie and read the book. I go with the 'never give up' motto.

  5. Hi, Everybody--So, I do eventually "let it go"...after I make it better. And yes--I will see the movie again, but I have to reread the book, too. I think I finally understand the concept of "theme", so well developed in this story. Now, I have to see how it reads.

  6. i just might have to see it---happy new year :)


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