Positive Questions Bring Positive Answers

Recently, I got a little discouraged with my writing.  I’m working on rewriting a novel, after finishing my short story in April. But the comments I’m getting from my (amazing and supportive) critique group about my novel seem similar to the comments I got with my short story.

It made me start questioning myself as a writer:

  • Am I just wasting my time trying to become a writer?
  • When is this going to get easier?
  • Do I really have what it takes to be a published author?
  • What’s wrong  with me that I’m not improving?

After wallowing for a short time, I realized I’m thinking about my writing in a way that’s not helpful. In fact, I’m setting myself up to fail.

Instead of negative questions that lead to negative answers, it’s more helpful to ask positive questions that lead to positive answers.

Because, no matter how discouraged I get, I’m determined to continue to practice my craft until I master it. Given that, why not ask questions that motivate me rather than discourage me?

Here are a few that I’ve come up with:

What’s one great lesson I’ve learned about writing recently?

  • The answer to this one is: “Each scene, no matter how small, needs to include a goal, motivation, and conflict.” (Thanks, Sylvie!)

How much time can I put into my writing this week?

  • While this is a very concrete question, I find it helpful because it nudges me to get out my calendar and put writing time down in black and white.

What’s easier than it used to be with regard to my writing?

  • Getting to the page is definitely easier. I’m so much more likely to open my computer and start typing whenever I get a spare moment.
  • I’m also more able to stay in the chair now that I have some “finished products” under my belt.
  • Another thing that’s easier is I seem to get more ideas these days. I feel like my “pump” is always primed for writing. That’s a very good thing.

What kind of support would help me as a writer right now?

  • Another concrete question, but one that helps me write more often. This week, it would be great if I asked my husband if he was available so I could go to the library and write one night.

What would make writing more fun right now?

  • Focusing on one scene sounds a lot more fun to me right now than thinking about rewriting my whole novel.
  • Creative writing prompts sound fun, too.

What’s perfect about where I am right now in my writing? (I know, this is a very touchy-feely question, but hey, I am a life coach!)

  • What’s perfect is that no one has any expectations about me as a writer. I can write whatever I want without any pressure from anyone.

Okay, I feel much better now and I’m ready to get back to work.

What questions motivate the writer in you?

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon, MD, is a family physician, life coach and writer. I blog regularly, journal regularly, and write more regularly these days than ever before. I’m grateful to the community here as you all (contributors and readers) are an inspiration to me. Happy writing!

19 thoughts on “Positive Questions Bring Positive Answers

  1. I love writing. That is why I blog. I love to create on paper. To see what happens to my idea when I put it in print. You are writing a book, well done you. That is more than most of us will ever do. Be sure to praise yourself as criticism no matter how constructive can be stifling.
    I always try to keep my mountains small. I find everything is then possible.

  2. Thank you for that post. The answer to your last question is the teacher in me, the healer in me, the comic in me motivate me to express myself. What motivates me to write is the knowledge that my life gets shorter every day and I have so much to say if I breathe away my fears of success or failure.

    • Hi dominicaduo,
      Thanks for your response to my last question and your comments. I know I’m more courageous on the page ever since I had my son because I have a sense of time passing and a need to express myself to the best of my ability–for me and for him.

      Thanks for reading!


  3. You are correct. We need positive interaction with people who want to assist us. Negative words and thoughts lead us to no-where. A polite teacher or helper can show us better way with wisdom and knowledge.

    • Hi johncoyote,
      I agree, positive interactions are so valuable. That’s one of the reasons I love this community here at NHWN!

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.


  4. Your negative fears are just like everyone else’s it takes courage and determination to look for the positive sometimes. It’s a lesson that I’m taking on board. Sounds a little harsh but I really believe, only the strong will survive! Keep going!

  5. These are great questions! I love the perspective of asking positive questions rather than negative questions. I fell in a slump this week and I had to walk away from the computer, get some fresh air, and read a book to get out of it. These questions will definitely help next time. Thanks!

    • Hi wordsavant,
      I think asking positive questions is a great tool, in almost any situation. As I said, I was discouraged, but wanted to get through it while still sitting at my desk (I knew if I walked away I wouldn’t get back that day) so I started asking better questions.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!


    • Hi redplace,
      Yes, it is all about positive thinking. Positive questions lead me to positive answers–so much more useful than than slide into negativity!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!


  6. …I was told in a great moment of doubt by my favourite author (thank you Charles) in a candid chat … ‘Whatever you do don’t stop writing Penny.’ This has stayed with me and become my mantra …now working on Book 3 and in those moments when my muse fled to the dark recesses of my psyche I recall them and pass them on, to you and every writer known and aspiring …Write on!

    • Hi silversthreads22,
      That’s great advice. In my case, I switched to writing questions and answers, but that led me back to working on my novel.

      Happy writing!


  7. All of your negative questions had me nodding my head, recognizing them, verbatim, as coming from the mouth of my inner critic. Loudly. Your positive questions were complete strangers to me. Which points out the changes I need to make. I’m going to put some thought into some positive questions. And finally, your last question has me stumped. I guess one question that motivates me is my husband asking ‘are you done yet?’ because he wants to read. Who can say no to that enthusiasm? Thanks for this post.

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