WriteCast Episode 39: Positive Writing Affirmations, Part 1
© Walden University Writing Center 2017
BRITTANY: Welcome to WriteCast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers. I’m Brittany Kallman Arneson,
BETH: and I’m Beth Nastachowski. In this episode, we’re exploring positive writing affirmations.
Today we’re going to talk about positive writing affirmations, and that includes what they are and how to use them, but we are also going to provide you with some positive writing affirmations that you can use in your own writing. So we’re excited to explore these more today. But, before we get started, I want to hand it over to Brittany for a minute here.
BRITTANY: Yeah, thanks, Beth. Hi, everybody, I have an announcement to make. It’s a bit of a sad announcement, although it also has some happy parts. And that is that after nearly five years here working at Walden in the Walden Writing Center, I’m actually leaving my position here. I’m going to be taking the summer to stay at home with my son. He’s been in daycare, but he’s going to be home with me this summer. We’re going to have some fun adventures together and do some traveling with my family and sort of explore what’s next for me professionally. So I am very sad to be leaving all of my wonderful colleagues here at the Walden Writing Center and all of you wonderful Walden students. You’ve been a dream to work with these past five years and have really inspired me with all of your hard work, your dedication to your communities, to social change, and to developing your writing skills. So I’m really going to miss working with you and I’m really going to miss working on this podcast with Beth and Anne. You guys have been just the most wonderful colleagues and friends over these past years, and this is definitely one of the projects that I will very much miss when I am no longer working here. So just wanted to make that announcement. This will be my last episode of WriteCast. I know that Beth and Anne will have some announcements about what’s next for WriteCast and how it will move forward. But I just wanted to say that I will miss you all, and to thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about writing and teach writing these past five years in the Walden Writing Center.
BETH: And, the same back to you, Brittany. It has been wonderful to work with you for the past five years, and on behalf of the rest of the Writing Center I just wanted to say thank you for all of your contributions, for working with Anne and I on this podcast. Listeners may not know this, probably don’t know this, but I met you, Brittany, while we were in grad school together in a class where we were studying medieval literature, if you can believe it. And ever since then I’ve always appreciated how insightful and passionate you are. And at Walden, I’ve always appreciated how much you’ve challenged me and the rest of the Writing Center to really think better and smarter about how we help students and I’ve always tried to really follow your lead in how encouraging and supportive you are with our students. So thank you to you Brittany. We really just have so much appreciated all that you have done at the Writing Center, so thank you.
BRITTANY: Thank you so much, Beth. Yeah, it’s fun and crazy to think back to that class when we first met and to look at where these past, well that’s been about six years I guess since that class, have taken us and everything that we’ve learned. So yeah, thank you for those thoughts, and I’m just really grateful.
BETH: Well, with that, that actually is maybe a good segue into our positive writing affirmations! Because today we’re focusing on really the positive and I think that’s great. Sometimes we focus on the parts of writing that can be really challenging, but I’m excited to talk more about how we can make writing a positive process. So Brittany, you have experience with positive affirmations. Could you talk with us a little about your experiences and what positive affirmations are?
BRITTANY: Yes, I can. So I don’t have a ton of experience with them and I really hadn’t used them or didn’t really even know about them as a tool until I was pregnant with my son. Part of one of the childbirth classes that I took was this track, an actual track that we downloaded from the internet, that had a woman reading these, like, statements of affirmation that you were supposed to then repeat after her. So they’re "I" statements--she says it and then you say it about yourself. And the idea was sort of to get yourself in this mindset of being healthy and positive about pregnancy. And I’ll admit that I felt so corny about that at first, like it felt really awkward to...you’re by yourself, so you know, nobody’s listening to you but, I usually would do it in my car like on the way to work or if I was running errands or something, and there is something kind of odd about speaking out loud when no one else is there. You’re not really talking to anybody, but I stuck with it, because it was part of my quote-un-quote assignment for my childbirth class. And after a couple of times, really, I mean after maybe a week of doing it, a) it didn’t feel awkward anymore and b) it worked! Like, I psyched myself into a different mindset about pregnancy. I hated being pregnant. I know not every woman has that experience, but at first I really didn’t like it. I was uncomfortable, I was sick, there were just all these things that were not very pleasant about it, and…not that you know saying these affirmations made all that go away, but it changed the way that I approached the experience and the way that I sort of lived in the experience. And so, yeah, I just thought writing is also sometimes uncomfortable and unpleasant. But it’s something that, you know, we have to do and we have to work through. So I thought that the same type of approach might be helpful for people who are working through the writing process as well.
BETH: So when you think about a positive affirmation, is the whole goal here to kind of just change your mindset or change your approach about something?
BRITTANY: Yeah, exactly, so the idea is to kind of convince yourself through making a statement over and over again that the way that you feel about something is true. So, it’s not really about changing your circumstances, right? I mean if you, no matter how many times you say “my paper is due in two weeks,” if it’s due tomorrow, that deadline’s not going to change. So we can’t create any affirmations that move deadlines or change the hard circumstances. But what we can do is we can use these affirmations to change our mindset which then impacts energy levels, impacts writers’ block, I think, it impacts your attitude, it impacts the way that you, like I said before, like the way that you live through an experience. And that can be very powerful. So yeah. That’s exactly right. The idea is to kind of adjust the mindset that you take when you are embarking on a task.
BETH: My mind went immediately to the idea of writers’ block. Because it seems like students talk about writers’ block or report writers’ block being due to psychological issues often times and they’re dreading writing or they’re not sure what to write about or they’re not motivated…that sort of thing. And so, this could be a really helpful tool for students who are experiencing writers’ block or are just really not enjoying their writing or dreading it or having trouble sitting down to write, so I like that a lot.
BRITTANY: Yeah, absolutely. And you know one thing I was thinking about as you were saying that is that writers’ block and other challenges with moving through the process of writing or getting a degree…a lot of times that type of thing is tied up in negative self-talk, right? Whether you’re saying it out loud or not, it’s your brain telling you "I can’t do this, I’m not good enough to do this." You doubt yourself, right? You have these feelings that maybe you aren’t cut out for this. And obtaining a degree is a challenging process and it’s normal to have that kind of negative self-talk going on in your head while you’re going through it. And what I hope these affirmations can help do is counteract that. This is like, intentional, pro-active, positive self-talk. So for every time your brain says "you can’t do this," you say, “no, I’m going to say out loud ‘I can do this. I am going to do this. This is something I’m capable of.’” And listeners, you’ll hear the kind of different affirmations that we’ve come up with in just a moment. But I think thinking about it as really kind of directly counteracting the negative voices in our brains already can be an interesting way to think about it as well.
BETH: Yeah so, can you take us sort of step-by-step through the process of how someone would actually use these affirmations?
BRITTANY: Yes. So, what we decided to do is to put these affirmations on a separate track so they won’t be on this track that you’re listening to now, they’ll be the next one that’s available after this one. So you can listen to it kind of on its own as its own thing. And what I recommend is that a student, I mean really you can listen to it anytime you want and it doesn’t have to be, you know, right before you’re sitting down to write necessarily, although I think that that could be really helpful to carve out a few minutes before you’re getting ready to sit down for your writing session. You can sit in your chair and turn on this track and what you’ll hear in the track itself is my voice saying an affirmation. For instance, the first one I will say is that “I am always learning.” So I am going to say that exact phrase and then you would say back “I am always learning” so you’re talking about yourself in the affirmation. And then I would say another one and we’d go through a series of them with me speaking first and then the listener repeating the phrase that I say. And like I said, I mean I often did these in the car or when I was, you know, out running errands or something like that. If you want, you can do it when you’re around other people…that might feel kind of weird to you, so you know, probably listeners are going to prefer to be sitting somewhere where they have some privacy. Which I guess, you know, lot of times the only times we have quiet private time is in our car which is maybe why that might be a good idea. Just keep in mind you shouldn’t put your head phones in when you’re in your car. Make sure you’re paying attention to the road and things like that. You know, find a little bit of available time. It won’t be a long track. It’ll probably take, I don’t know, we haven’t recorded it yet, but I assume between five and ten minutes. And, yeah, you just listen and then repeat. It’s as simple as that.
BETH: All right. And I would imagine as well, when I think about meditation or kind of what you were saying, how often times at first we feel uncomfortable, it may not be working quite the way we promised it will, and you know that sort of thing. I imagine that students should give this a bit of time to, if they think that this would be a useful tool, make it sort of part of your practice or sort of something that…a habit that you do and give it some time to kind of start working. Does that seem like a good suggestion as well?
BRITTANY: Yeah, absolutely. I would say try and make this a daily practice. So whether or not you’re writing that day, think about doing the affirmations that day. And you could even think about that, let’s say you have a day where you don’t have time to write and you’re feeling kind of, eh, not so great about that, well carve out some time to at least do these. And then at least you’ve sort of put yourself in a positive mindset about moving ahead with whatever writing project you’re working on. And I promise it probably will feel a little weird at first, but it feels more normal and less weird as you go along. So give it a week or two every day, or most days, or week days, whenever you can find that quiet, private time. And see where you’re at by the end of that. And I imagine it will feel more comfortable and I hope it will also have an impact on your mindset as well.
BETH: Great! So Brittany, if you’re ready, I think we can go ahead and wrap up this episode and head on over the next episode. So everyone should open up episode number 40 of WriteCast and you’ll be able to hear the affirmations that Brittany’s going to record next.
BRITTANY: WriteCast is a production of the Walden University Writing Center. This episode was produced by me, Brittany Kallman Arneson; my co-host, Beth Nastachowski; and our colleague, Anne Shiell.