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8 Negative Traits That Translate As Positive Traits For Writers

8 Negative Traits That Translate As Positive Traits For Writers
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Writers posses many positive attributes: creative imaginations, a rich inner life, on tap fantasy thinking, and storytelling. However, any writer will also tell you there are often aspects of their personality that many, or they themselves, deem negative: lying, and appearing too intense for some, are just two of those traits many associate with the negative condition. However, for writers, these so-called “bad” traits may actually provide good outcomes, while becoming essential to their craft.

It’s important to note that we are not talking about disorders here, rather those things we carry that do not, or will not, have a major or detrimental impact on our lives, health or well-being.

The following traits can be invaluable tools for most writers; spurring their creativity, offering substantial material, pulling them out ruts, or simply offering encouragement where there has been discouragement.

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Time to turn that frown upside down!

1. You’ve been described as too passionate.

Ever had someone call you “intense,” or describe you as “too much?” Some see you as crazy, a trouble maker, or an obsessed nut, while others are just plain scared of you. Though there are occasions where there may be a need to worry, for many writers, this intensity is part and parcel of what allows them to live outside the ‘norm’ and create amazing tales. Passion fuels intense creativity, arouses emotion, and gets the wheels turning. So although others may be turned-off by your intensity sometimes, for you, it’s a major, and necessary, turn-on.

2. You’re hasty.

For you, there’s no such thing as waiting, you’d rather get to it now. If it doesn’t work, no biggie, you’ll deal with that later. You love to jump in with both feet and don’t see any problem with that. If it’s too hot or too cold you’ll just jump out. As long as you’re not hurting yourself, or anyone else, it works for you. And as a writer, the added benefit of hastiness is that you tend to go with your gut and heart, tapping into your instincts with such focus. This leads to an impressive library of experience; some good and some bad, but all rich.

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Your impatience need not be a problem, but instead a way of exercising that innate need to “get it out,” which in writing terms, more often than not, translates into something great.

3. You’re neurotic.

Your jealousy, anxiety or loneliness can be parlayed into a ground breaking novel, a hard hitting screen play, or a poem that touches souls. Feeling frustrated? Hash it out as a character. Worried? Write a plot full of intense twists and turns. With the ability to pen your emotions into prose or poetry, you can transfer what could have potentially become something negative into positive energy, and watch the miracle unfold.

4. You’re nosy.

You’re a prolific a curtain twitcher; the typical nosy neighbor. But as a writer, you can actually treat this as research, or inspiration for your next project. Perhaps you know a little too much about your neighbors comings and goings, or are intrigued by the couple who just moved in down the street. Turn them into characters and watch them come to life. This curtain twitching behavior offers you rich material, and at a healthy and safe, non-stalker-y distance!

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The world is your museum and you use it to feel a connection to life, and to others. Plus those ideas of nosiness, intrigue and interest have given us some of the greatest novels (think flaneur, detective and thriller) which make for amazing reads.

5. You’re disorganized.

Disorganization appears to be synonymous with creative types. Clothes on the floor, books strewn out across your bed and your desk looks like a bomb went off in a library. Not good, right? Wrong. To a writer, even the most catastrophic looking room contains mountains of organisation and inspiration, somewhere in there.

So to the friend of said writer: don’t go tidying up their apartment or finally hanging those picture frames that have made their home on the floor. It may all be some sort of elaborate and useful set up that makes sense to them and their writing. Sure it could just mean they’re disgusting, but it’s more likely there’s some method to all that madness.

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6. You suck at multi-tasking.

Sure you can handle the odd multi-venture at once but, generally, this causes a great deal of unnecessary stress. Most writers need 100 percent focus when writing. Paying bills, sending emails, screaming kids and cooking all equate to one very detached and unmotivated writer. Stephen King operated a closed door system when writing, and JK Rowling wrote while her baby slept. Many writers attest to the benefits of getting away (sans internet/Wi-Fi), or writing whilst the world sleeps, like Jack Kerouack, who preferred to write from, “midnight till dawn”. The ability to live in that moment, write as though you are reading and block out any distractions is commendable, and essential.

Multitasking may very well be an asset within the workplace, after all being able to multi-task is like having super powers. But to a writer, multitasking is just another word for distraction.

7. You’re a liar.

As well as actors and lawyers, liars also make wonderful writers. The ability to write fictional tales, come up with elaborate plots and create new worlds requires next level invention skills. There is also the understanding that lying requires that side of you that removes itself from the actual and the factual, skews reality, deceives, improvises, and has folks believing it’s all real. Yes, we all know lying is bad, bad, bad, but for the writer, it’s all good, good, good!

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8. You’ve been told to grow up

Sure you can be a well-functioning adult like the best of them. You go to work, you work out, you eat right, you’re responsible and mature, and have yourself together, but you also know how and when to tap into that beautiful little child within you, exhibiting that imagination, drive and enthusiasm of a kid. You reside happily within your childlike creativity; making up plots and characters and daydreaming about scenery and dialogue, all the while imagining the outcome of your tale. Sure, you can do the whole adult thing 24/7, but where’s the fun (or imagination!) in that?

Featured photo credit: No Title/Ermin Čeliković via albumarium.com

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Patricia C. Osei-Oppong

Writer, Poet, Marketer

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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