5 Mindset Tips to Help You Unlock Your Writing Potential


Mastering your mindset is just as important as learning the technical aspects of writing a novel. In today’s post, I’m sharing a round-up of mindset tips that will help you master your mindset and unlock your writing potential.

I asked a handful of my peers to send in their favorite mindset tips for writers, so you’ll hear from other editors and coaches like Rachel May, Georgina Green, Dani Abernathy, Kenny MacKay, and Brooke Adams Law. Some of the tips they share are tips born from personal experience, and others come from the work they’ve done with writers. But all of them are juicy and super helpful, so let’s dive right in!




Tip #1: Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself and your writing by asking yourself, “What if this could be easy?”

 Hi, my name is Rachel May, and I'm an owner and book coach at Golden May Editing. 

I work with tenacious writers to ditch hustle culture and merge your unique brain with craft knowledge that works so you can develop a process that gets you across the finish line, book after book. 

When Savannah asked me to share my favorite mindset tip, this question immediately came to mind: What if writing could be easy? 

Let me break that down. 

So often, our inner critic voices become overly loud, leading us to complicate the writing process, overthink craft knowledge and application, and make things just generally harder than what they need to be. 

When I catch myself or my clients working themselves in these overthinking and anxiety-driven holes, I take a step back and ask myself this question: What if it could be easy? 

I ask myself and my students to question where they are putting pressure on themselves that's making their process harder and go interrogate whether that pressure even needs to be there in the first place. 

If you're this kind of writer, you probably work yourself into thought spirals that trigger perfectionism, self-doubt, or battles with imposter syndrome. I completely understand. 

These thought spirals typically stem from a fear response. 

You're creating pressure on yourself, your process, and your work because your nervous system feels unsafe in some way. So you consciously or subconsciously make the writing process harder than it needs to be. 

Maybe perfectionism is giving you so much anxiety that you can't move on from a particular scene because you're afraid of rejection.

Maybe you're feeling totally stuck on a plot point and becoming increasingly frustrated and angry at yourself because you're afraid of making the wrong choice. 

Maybe you're ready to throw in the towel and give up writing entirely because you can't believe anyone would ever want to read your story.

You feel unsafe, so you create barriers to subconsciously protect yourself. 

These fears are normal. I experience them, my clients experience them, but the key is not letting them derail your entire process. We gotta get you back on track. 

When a spiral happens, I encourage you to ask yourself: Why are my thoughts spiraling out of control? What's the fear boiling under the surface right now? Why am I making this so hard on myself? And how can I remove barriers to make this easier? 

You'd be surprised how simply stopping the train of thought and reframing your mindset towards ease can get you unstuck and back on track. 

Ask yourself: What if writing could be easy? What would that look like for me?

Take the pressure off, and you'll immediately notice a difference in your energy and motivation. Wishing you all the best! Happy writing!

Want to get in touch with Rachel? You can find her at goldenmayediting.com, on her podcast called Story Magic, or over on Instagram @bookcoachrachel.


Tip #2: Be mindful about the language you use to talk about your first draft—use language that fuels growth vs. keeps you stuck.

 Hi, I'm Dr. Georgina Green, everyone calls me George. I'm a writing and self belief coach for novelists. 

I help new novelists fine tune their understanding of craft and tap into self trust, because I firmly believe that that's when the magic happens. 

So I was really happy when Savannah told me about this episode and I've been thinking a lot about the top mindset tip that I would like to share. And the thing I kept coming back to—and which I use with almost every author that I work with—is to be very mindful about the language you use to talk about your first draft.

And this is particularly the case if perfectionism has paralyzed you in the past or you would define yourself as a perfectionist.

It can be really helpful to describe your first draft as a zero draft, not even a first draft, a zero draft, you can talk about it as the raw clay on the wheel—language, which gives you the finished object. 

Because as a perfectionist, you're often very uncomfortable with that beginner's mindset and with the roughness that comes with a first draft.

You can use the language that you choose to name the notebooks that you use, to name folders on your computer, or even as the subtitle to the draft as you work on it. 

I've heard a lot of people talk about a crappy (or worse language) draft, but I encourage you to be careful about the negativity of that word.

Even though it's encouraging imperfection and giving you permission to be imperfect, it's also kind of talking down your idea. 

I much prefer this idea of something raw, something that's got potential. The “raw clay” is a favourite, and “zero draft” is a favourite. Another word that you could use is to think of it as an experiment when you first start writing.

This takes some of the pressure off it being successful first round because you're just doing an experiment—you're just seeing what happens. 

Sometimes perfectionists find that very concept of something being an experiment really uncomfortable, and if you're feeling kind of like, “eww,” about the idea of experimenting with something you don't know for sure will work… 

That may actually be a signal to you to look into your perfectionism and to try to get to the bottom of why the idea of an an experiment might be so uncomfortable.

And as you're writing and revising your first novel, talking to yourself about it as your “apprenticeship piece,” will allow you to reassure that part of you that is scared of what this first book means about you. 

So what we're doing here is using language that fosters a growth mindset. 

You're becoming the writer you want to be through an apprenticeship, the apprenticeship of writing your first draft.

And that's, that growth mindset is something we're looking for over and above using a fixed mindset. 

In a fixed mindset, you will see your writing and your first draft as the proof of whether or not you're meant for this—whether or not you're a good writer. By looking for that proof, you're also going to be scared to find proof that you're not, that you're a bad writer.

So if we're in that fixed mindset, it can sometimes seem better not to try at all than to try and to risk failing. 

If you're in that mindset of trying to prove yourself through your writing—trying to look for evidence that you are who you hope you are in your writing—you're putting a lot of pressure on it and you may find yourself avoiding the work in different ways… Procrastinating, doing more and more research, coming up with other things you could be doing and so on. 

Whereas with the growth mindset, you reassure that part of you that in fact, we're just on a journey, working on a process that will take us towards becoming the writer we want to be

It may be a winding process. There may be setbacks. There may be areas for improvement, but in showing up, we're working towards becoming that writer that you have the taste to imagine that you could be.

And working towards that becomes safer because you're using that growth mindset than it would be if you're using a fixed mindset.

Okay, I really hope that helps. Thanks again for including me, Savannah!

Want to get in touch with George? You can reach out to her on her website or on Instagram @drgeorginagreen_bookcoach.


Tip #3: Don’t let your limiting beliefs hold you back—instead, turn your negative thoughts into positive ones and focus on taking small action steps.

 Hey everybody, my name is Kenny McKay, and I am the host of the Author Your Dream podcast, but I'm also a writer who has written three non fiction books, and I'm currently working on my first fiction novel. 

And I've found fiction to be a very different animal to nonfiction, and I've actually struggled with making that transition from writing nonfiction to writing fiction. So, when Savannah asked me to share my most impactful insight on mindset, I happily agreed. 

It can be so easy to let your limiting beliefs stop you from fulfilling your dream of writing your book. So here is my mindset tip for you…

When you struggle with self-doubts and limiting beliefs, don't just stop there. 

Don't camp at those limiting beliefs or those doubts and just ponder about them. Because if you do, you'll never make it past those doubts. 

So, take each doubt and each false belief out, and write down the opposing thought. 

For example, one of my limiting beliefs when it came to writing my fiction was, “You can't write this book because you've never done it before, and you don't know how.” Now my response to that was, “Yes, it's true, I've never done this, but I can learn.”

Whatever your limiting belief is, come up with that opposite and positive response and focus on that. And if there is an action that you need to take, make a plan and implement that plan. 

This insight has really helped me to move past what has been holding me back and realize that I can do this. I can write a novel, and I am. I started learning. I read books. I listened to podcasts. I watched YouTube videos. And I started talking with some very incredible people on my podcast. And because I did this, I am well on my way to finishing my first novel. 

I'm not going to lie to you and say that doubts are gone forever—that I've banished them, and I no longer struggle with them—because I do. Doubts come every now and then. But I know how to respond to them now. 

And it has helped me go from procrastinating for years to being able to sit down on a daily basis and write. 

Because before I learned this tip, this insight, I was spending weeks procrastinating. I'd go to a coffee shop to write air quotes here, and I'd sit there, and I wouldn't write. I'd procrastinate. I'd find something else to do because that limiting belief that I didn't know how was holding me back and stopping me from doing what I knew I was meant to be doing, and from doing what I had always dreamed of doing.

I want to encourage you to take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side, I want you to write down every single limiting belief that you have ever had about your own writing. Once you've done that, I want you to respond to those limiting beliefs. 

For example, “I don't know how I can learn. I'm too old.” Who cares? Or “I'm too young.” Find somebody who's younger than you and say, “If they can do it, I can do it.”

Now, whatever your limiting belief is, find that opposite positive response to it and focus on that. And every time that belief comes up or that limiting belief comes up remind yourself of that positive response and hold on to it.

If you have to read it to yourself every day until those doubts are no longer constantl nagging at you in your ear.

Want to get in touch with Kenny? You can reach out to him on his website or tune into his podcast called Author Your Dream.


Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to infuse yourself into your writing—the more you do, the stronger, and more compelling your story will be!

 Hi, I'm Dani Abernathy. I'm a book coach and Enneagram teacher who helps people write the stories they need to tell so that the reader can feel seen and can see others. 

The most important thing I want you to know about writing is that you are the most important part of your story. You are the roots of your story.

I want you to imagine a tree. A tree has roots, it has a tree trunk, it has branches, and it has leaves. In my work with writers, we use the story tree as the process for developing their book. 

So, the first thing we do is focus on you, the writer, and you connecting with yourself and what you care about. 

Your story can only be as healthy and as strong as you are, and the more you embrace the you in your novel, the stronger it will be, the more motivated you're gonna be, and the more likely you are to persevere through all the hard stuff that comes with writing a novel.

So there are a few specific roots that my clients find most helpful. 

The first is your backstory. So, a lot of times you hear that, you know, writers shouldn't write themselves into their books. And I agree that writing for therapy is different from writing for a reader. The more you understand why this story matters to you, the stronger your novel's going to be and the more dedicated you're going to be.

I want you to think about your life. What experiences in your life led you to this story? what passions come up over and over again? Why do you need to tell this story? Why is it so important to you? 

Another root I want you to think about is your impact. You can almost think about the impact as the rings of your story tree in the tree trunk. 

So I want you to imagine three rings. At the inner core of your story tree is your self-impact, and this is how your book affects you. It's why you're writing for yourself. So you might be writing to get revenge, or to prove something, or to be known, or to finally gain someone’s respect.

This level of impact, this self impact is really hard to find because it requires a lot of self-reflection and honesty and maybe even therapy. 

But if you can find that self-impact, it's going to allow you to approach your novel with less sort of attachment, and you're going to be able to see it more clearly.

The second ring of your tree trunk is the reader impact. 

So this is what we traditionally think of when someone reads your book. How are they going to respond? How are they going to be affected? What do you want to say to your reader? 

And then the last ring of your tree trunk is world impact.

So this is like, if your book became the bestseller, you know, got the movie franchise, got a theme park, all the things, how do you want to impact the world? How do you want to change the world? 

The last root that I want you to think about is your point. 

So every novel says something about the world. You have a worldview, you have a message you want to convey, and it's so important to think about your point because it acts as your tree trunk. 

Your point really is your tree trunk that all your other story branches, like your character and your plot and your outline, grow from. 

So I want you to think about how you want to impact your reader? How do you want them to feel when they finish your novel? And then what are you trying to say to them? 

Try to come up with one sentence that really sums up what you're trying to say. And the point of your point is not… You're not going to like write it word for word in your story. The point is to remind you of why the story matters and what you're aiming for. 

So those are three roots of your story tree that I want you to keep in mind as you are working on your novel. 

When you embrace your roots—and when you strengthen them—they're gonna remind you of where you're heading and they're gonna keep you motivated. 

They’re going to keep your story healthy, and they're also going to stop you from comparing yourself to other people because your tree is different from everyone else's. You don't need to try to grow an aspen if you're a maple!

So always remember that you are the most important part of your story. You are the roots of your story!

Want to get in touch with Dani? You can reach out to her on her website or send her a message on Instagram @daniabernathyauthor.


Tip #5: Work on building your “persistence muscle” so that you can get your novel finished and published.

 Hey everyone, this is Brooke Adams Law. I am the founder of Writing Brave, a book coaching and hybrid publishing company. I'm also a novelist. My debut novel, Catchlight, won the Fairfield Book Prize, was named a Best Indie Book of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews, and was featured on Good Morning America's blog.

Today I want to share some ways to develop your persistence muscle so you can stay the course and get your novel finished and published. 

I know a little bit about this because my novel, Catchlight, took me seven years to finish and then another six years to get published. 

One of my goals as a coach is always to help people do it faster than I did.

Step one to build your persistence muscle is to keep your desire front and center.

So this isn't the same as your goal. Your goal is probably to finish your novel or to get it published. But your desire is your why. Why does your story matter to you? Why write a novel at all? Stay connected to that desire, that why, and it will help you build your persistence!

Step two to build your persistence muscle is to normalize the ups and downs of the writing process. 

Some writing sessions go amazing, and you're thinking, “This is the best idea ever! I love writing!” And some writing sessions don't go so well, and you're thinking, “This is terrible! I'm never going to finish this! I hate my idea! Or, “I don't know what to do next.”

All of this is normal and just part of the process. 

Normalizing those ups and downs as part of the writing process will help you build that persistence muscle so you can get to the finish line. 

Step three to build your persistence muscle is to take the long view. 

Writing a book isn't something that happens overnight. It takes some grit to stick it out. When I was first writing Catchlight, I knew that I wanted to be an author for my whole career and getting my first book right was super important to me. So taking that long view really helped me keep going. 

Even if you're just writing one book, know that it takes time to write a draft, get it revised,  and figure out your best publishing pathway. Taking that long view will help you build that persistence muscle. 

Step four to help you build your persistence muscle is to surround yourself with friends who will cheer you on. 

They might be other writers, so you might join a writing community, but they don't have to be writers. You want friends or family members who support your dreams and cheer you on. 

My husband and my best friend and my parents all believed in my dream to finish and publish my book even when I couldn't believe in it myself. 

So if you have a friend or a family member who isn't supportive or who's critical of your work without also being super encouraging, stop telling them about your book and seek out another pillar of support.

You want someone where if you tell them about a tough writing session, they tell you you've got this and you leave the conversation feeling strengthened and motivated rather than drained. 

Step five to build your persistence muscle is to remember that the main difference between you and writers you admire is that they kept going.

Everyone has doubts. Everyone is busy. Everyone faces obstacles in their writing life. Everyone has moments where they don't know what to do next. 

But the only difference between folks who have published their books, one book or 20 books, is that they kept going. So stay the course and keep going. 

Step six in building your persistence muscle is to fuel yourself for the journey.

In addition to leaning on friends and family when you need support, fuel yourself for the writing journey for the long path with two things—1) Writing inspo like this very podcast (great job, you're already doing that!), and 2) celebrating each of your wins. 

Celebrating small wins helps us be ready to celebrate big wins, right? We sort of get in the habit of celebrating, and celebrating is also super fun—it helps us keep going, right? 

So every time you sit down to write, or every time you squeeze in an extra writing session in a given week, or work through a module of a writing course, or figure out a stubborn plot point, give yourself a little celebration. 

Celebrations don't have to cost anything or take a lot of time. My favorite mini-celebrations for small wins include taking a walk outside, giving myself extra reading time on that particular day, and maybe treating myself to some gourmet chocolate. 

So there you have it, my six tips to build your persistence muscle! I am cheering you on so big!

Want to get in touch with Brooke? You can reach out on her website or connect with her over on Instagram @wearewritingbrave.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found these mindset tips helpful! I love hearing what has moved the needle for other people, especially in terms of mindset, because it can be a rather squishy thing. 

Mindset is just as important to talk about as actual craft tips because like I always say, I can teach you strategies for writing a book all day long, but if your mindset isn't right, none of the strategies will matter. 

If any one of these mindsets stood out to you as especially helpful, do reach out to the coach or editor who shared the tip—I’m sure they’d love to hear from you!

Savannah is a developmental editor and book coach who helps fiction authors write, edit, and publish stories that work. She also hosts the top-rated Fiction Writing Made Easy podcast full of actionable advice that you can put into practice right away. Click here to learn more →