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Boost your writing ambitions with a personal mantra

What is your personal writing philosophy? If you’re passionate about writing – for whatever reason – you probably have goals and dreams about what you want to accomplish. I’ve found writing energy by adopting a personal mantra that reflects my writing philosophy.

A personal motto for success can help you derail fear, find strength when you’re feeling blocked, and serve as a reminder of what you really care about and what you ultimately want to achieve. It can bring focus to your writing practice.

The reasons why people write vary, but many writers find their craft goes beyond something they just “do” to something that is part of how they experience life. It’s about how stories are always percolating in their subconscious and how they constantly observe the world to search for ideas and inspiration. They’re driven to arrange their priorities and structure their lives to accommodate writing.

If you possess this kind of passion for your writing goals, you might want to adopt a guiding principle for your pursuits. A mantra may be as simple as, “finish what you start.” I was inspired by an MFA mentor who often reminded students to, “trust the process” – a good reminder to relax, have faith, and just write.

Because I’ve always tried to live without regret, I’m inspired by speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno’s philosophy of “zero regrets.” In his book, Ohno, who has won eight Olympic medals, wrote about his philosophy, which he credits with his success.

In the prologue of his, book, Zero Regrets: Be Greater Than Yesterday, he writes:

“Zero regrets.

Life is about making the most of it. While we can. Because we can.

It’s complicated and yet not. You have to figure out who it is you want to be. Not what you want to be—who. There has to be a vision, a dream, a plan. Then you chase that with everything you’ve got. That means you have to put in the work, the practice, the training. There aren’t any shortcuts. If you want something, you have to be 100 percent clear in how you plan to get it. You have to be relentless in your pursuit.

I didn’t ever want to be complacent. I didn’t want to think back about my day and think, Yes, Apolo, that was good enough. So this is what I would say to myself when I would lie down in bed at night: Zero regrets. I would think it, and I would even say it out loud to myself. This is what I would say to myself when I was hammering out miles on the treadmill: No regrets. Sometimes inside my head, sometimes out loud. This is what I would say when I was in the weight room: Absolutely zero regrets.”

Exercise: Come up with a personal statement that works for you and then meld it into your life. Post it by your computer, on the bathroom mirror, or wherever you’ll regularly see it. Say it out loud. Write it in your journal. Then see how it propels you toward your writing goals.

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