There’s a moment just before the serve in tennis that I stand tall, take a deep breath, and look squarely at my opponent. In that second, I say to myself "I’m a good player; I’ve got a great serve: here goes one of my best serves now." In microseconds, I replay the entire body and racket movements as I toss the ball high in front and to my right. It seems to work, at least some of the time.
I always say if you’ve got a great serve, your other strokes don’t matter as much. And with writing, if you’ve got a great opening – headline, first sentence, first paragraph – the rest will flow. If your opening is strong then the rest doesn’t matter as much.
I’ve always done some version of mental imagery, but was recently inspired to renew this physical and mental meditation when I saw the film "The Way of the Peaceful Warrior." In it, the young gymnast stands tall with a fist extended in the air before he begins his routine. In that moment, you can see his confidence and determination as he mentally begins his work.
I’m now starting to apply this exercise to writing when faced with tasks that are not appetizing to me. News releases are the most difficult, probably because they tend to be more routine and less creative.
If I can sit tall, face the computer screen with an air of confidence and then repeat some affirmation, it will be easier: "I’m a good journalist; I love writing news releases. They inspire creativity in me. I’m writing a good one now."
Your turn: what gets you going when faced with a challenging writing task?