The art of neutral thinking

Have I ever told you why I became a writer?

Well, obviously there are several reasons, but one of them was because when I was very young I’d have dreams nightmares that felt very real. I’d be coming home from school to find my family missing, or running away in the middle of the night. I’d dream my sister ceased to exist, or that we’d been caught up in a devastating fire.

And I was terrified that my thoughts would make these things actually happen! Aged 4, I didn’t really understand that I didn’t have that kind of power.

I started to write these thoughts down, and gave the characters different names, so that they would suffer and my family would be safe.


writers-and-artists.jpgFast forward to this week. I sent off my first batch of queries. And then I started to envisage the outcome.

First, I imagined signing contracts and drinking Champagne in celebration. Everyone was cheering and I was making a speech.

Argh! No! What if that causes the universe to spite me? What if that would just bring many rejections to my inbox?

Next, I pictured the rejections, a long slog through my list of agents, getting to the end.

Argh! What if that makes the rejections happen?

Logically, I know my brain still doesn’t have that kind of power, but what if…? So, now, I’m practising the art of neutral thinking, where I try not to veer too far to the positive or negative. I’m focusing on – if I really must – the agent opening my email, and…

… and nothing. I’m trying to pull myself away, panning the camera back like the closing scene of a movie while inspirational music plays and the screen goes black.

(Well, you did say you wanted to be with me for the querying process, although this might not be quite what you meant 😉 )


26 thoughts on “The art of neutral thinking

  1. Maybe the best thing to do is to try and forget about the queries you’ve sent out. Otherwise you drive yourself crazy with all the what-ifs. I think you’ve got a good idea here, to picture that the agents have gotten your queries and they’ll do what they’re going to do.


  2. Actually, your mind DOES have that power. So think the positive thoughts and see the positive pictures and then let it go completely. Putting out the energy to manifest the positive and then let go of the outcome…..And I love your story about why you started writing!! I think Stephen King may have been the same. He needs to be in charge of the scary monsters so they won’t scare him as much.


  3. Hi Annalisa – well I guess you’d better get practising … as you’d be the first person to meet Alex!! Fun though … and yes I can see your logic … but I think getting your peace of mind back first would help … keep on writing, dreaming and imagining … cheers Hilary


  4. I’m all for good vibes going around, but I think the best bet is to wave those queries goodbye, wish them luck, then get back to your next project. The “fade to black” sounds like a good approach!


  5. it is easy to torment oneself with crazy scenarios. Sounds like neutral thinking is the best way to go. See what happens. Fingers crossed that it’s positive.!


  6. I hear you about those nightmares….

    Those queries are out on their own now, no longer in your control. Let them be free! Whatever will be, will be. (But I’ll cross my fingers for you anyway.) 🙂


  7. I hear the angst. First, it’s researching to find the right place to send the query, then tailoring it to fit each taste, then–and this is the worst–waiting. I’m so not good at waiting, but I’ve learned to do a lot of other things while I’m doing it. Good luck. Tell us what happens!


  8. Maybe that’s a common thing, kids dreaming about their families missing. I had the same dream frequently when I was a child! I wish I had written MY thoughts down about that. That aside, good thoughts, good vibes and good luck while you wait for good things to come your way via email! 🙂


  9. I’m so glad you turned your dreams or nightmares into a career, even if it’s still fraught with all of that angst. Of course, any of us who’ve ever sent out a query will be right there with you in how you feel. That is one thing I’ve discovered in this business, and it has helped to know others are there with me.


  10. I wish I had some strategies or other suggestions for reducing your anxiety, but I’m completely neurotic and am in a constant state of anxiety. I hope that you get good responses to the queries though!


    1. I find time is a natural reducer, the longer I wait for anything, the less anxious I am about it – it works for job interviews and exams as well as waiting for responses. I’m the person who turns up 2 hours early for an interview so that I induce the tedium of waiting around.


  11. This is now one of my favorite why-I’m-a-writer stories. I love it. I think you should turn it into a short story staring a 4-year-old girl.


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