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8 Negative Traits That Translate As Positive Traits For Writers

8 Negative Traits That Translate As Positive Traits For Writers

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!

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 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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