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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, June 30, 2008

Psyching Up For Success -- Lynda Hilburn

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

~ Goethe

It’s that time again: the RWA conference is just around the corner. Everybody take a deep breath (and then let it out!).

Does the thought of talking to editors, agents, famous authors and talented peers make you want to run screaming into the night? Are you a “typical” writer: shy, introspective, comfortable sitting at your computer, but terrified at the idea of stringing coherent sentences together in a pitch session? Do you fear your vocal cords will suddenly become paralyzed, or your sweat glands will shift into overdrive, if that special agent says, “tell me about yourself”?

Well, whether the description above is accurate, or you’re one of those lucky, extroverted writers who thrive under pressure – or, if you’re somewhere in the middle – you can use the power of your mind/imagination to create successful outcomes in your writing career and in your life.

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

~ Albert Einstein

One of the most amazing things I learned long ago, when I began studying the mind in general and hypnosis in particular, was that the mind/brain/psyche doesn’t know the difference between something observed and something imagined. Wow. That’s huge. That means that your mind (through your thoughts and emotions) will happily go about attracting and creating whatever you give mental attention to. (For good or not!)

Of course, we’d all rather stay focused on what we desire, so here are some tools to help you transform negative patterns into positive possibilities:

Positive Suggestions

Also called affirmations, these are statements you select in order to “reprogram” your mind or write a new inner script. Positive suggestions work best if you actually believe what you’re telling yourself. If you don’t believe the affirmation, your mind will generate resistance and nothing will change – you’ll simply have a war of competing ideas waging in your psyche. One sure way to discover if the affirmation you’ve created is believable to you is to listen to your Inner Critic. If your IC comes back with “yeah, that’ll happen,” or “when pigs fly,” then you can be certain you’ve triggered a competing belief. So, what’s the answer? Transform the language into something that’s true for you. Here are some helpful positive suggestions for writers to give ourselves:

  • “I love writing – my skills are increasing every day.”
  • “Success comes to me in expected and unexpected ways.”
  • “I am fine-tuning my craft more every day.”
  • “I now allow myself to succeed.”
  • “It feels wonderful to succeed.”
  • “I now attract the perfect (agent) (editor) (publisher) for me.”
  • “I am magnetic to positive outcomes.”
  • “Joyful results come to me from everywhere.”
  • “I am willing to allow myself to shine.”
  • “This conference is a joyful, successful experience for me. Something wonderful is unfolding.”
  • “Somehow, everything is working out great.”
  • “Yes I can!”

If you have a spiritual/religious belief, your affirmations can reflect it: “The Universe/God/Goddess/All That Is is now guiding me to success as an author.”

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which

escape those who dream only by night.”

~ Edgar Allan Poe

Since I tend to keep several favorite affirmations/positive suggestions running in my mind during most of my waking hours, I find that they help with another strategy for change:

Positive Distraction

When you notice your negative self-talk (what most of us do most of the time), switch your focus/attention to a positive memory. Let’s say you’re walking around the conference facility, telling yourself unhappy things like, “I’ll never sell my book. Nobody would want what I write. I don’t have what it takes,” etc. Shift your focus to one of the pleasant memories you’ve stored away in the corner of your psyche: the award you won for your essay in sixth grade, the short story that was published in the high school newspaper, or the time your friend said (after reading your first chapter), “Hey! You’re really good.” I’m not suggesting that we need outer validation in order to feel good – in fact, the opposite is true, we need inner validation – but having a stash of uplifting mental movies to review can immediately alter the prevailing mental state and literally change your mood, facial expression, etc. The brain/mind/psyche can only concentrate on one thing at a time: the negative self-talk or the positive memory. Which feels better?

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

~ Maya Angelou


All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The definition of hypnosis is: heightened awareness. Hypnosis is a process of artful distraction. It’s a fascinating – and very natural – paradox. Your body is lying (or sitting) here, but your mind is . . . over there. Other words for hypnosis (achieving the same brain wave patterns) would be: daydreaming, guided visualization, guided imagery, and meditation. I have some hypnosis articles on my non-writing website, if you’d like more information.

As I mentioned earlier, the imagination is the key to transformation. Its symbols, metaphors, stories and sensations are also the language of the soul. The more you practice exploring your inner world, the deeper you can go, faster. (Don’t do this while driving or doing anything else that requires full consciousness!)

Take a few quiet moments daily to stretch out comfortably and close your eyes. Allow yourself to breathe naturally and easily. Feel all the tension and anxiety flowing out of your body as you imagine inhaling a very warm, healing, relaxing energy. Perhaps that energy has a color. Or maybe you can feel it. Or you might just know it’s there. But something pleasant is moving through your body – aligning every cell, bone, organ, muscle and system – guiding you deeper inside your unconscious mind.

Use the power of your imagination to experience yourself in a beautiful place. A lovely landscape or special scene. Make it very real. See every color, every detail. Hear the soft sounds in the distance. Feel the perfect air temperature flowing over your skin. Smell a pleasant aroma. Allow yourself to find a perfect spot in this magical place to stretch out. Feel yourself relax even more. Dropping down deeper and deeper.

As you’re relaxed, begin to daydream about your desired future as a writer and author. Project yourself into the days and years ahead and see, feel, sense and imagine yourself living all the success you want. Step into that scene, that picture, that possibility. How does it feel? Communicate silently with that part of yourself – the part who is living your dream future. Let her tell you how she got there. What steps she took. What commitments she made. What attitudes she chose. What choices she made. Spend as long as you like just reveling in the good feeling of your future life.

As you relax there, give yourself positive suggestions about your desires. Then, when you’re ready, count yourself up from one to five, telling yourself that when you reach the number five, you will be fully back in your physical body, fully in the present, remembering everything you experienced and feeling even better than before you began. Now just rest a moment and smile.

Do this every day and watch what happens.

Have a wonderful conference!!

Hugs, Lynda

Lynda Hilburn is a professional counselor and author of The Vampire Shrink, first in the Kismet Knight, Ph.D., vampire psychologist series. Dark Harvest, the second book, is an October 2008 release.

"A refreshingly original twist on the vampire story. Fast-paced and fun."
- Kelley Armstrong, New York Times bestselling author


At 9:49 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Morning, Lynda! Lynda is a fellow Colorado author. I'm excited to have her here today!

I'm not remotely shy, but I do spend a lot of time with only the cat for company. Last year, it took me a while to get my hustle on, so I think I'll visualize myself being super social right from the get-go. Might be a good exercise on the plane trip over.

It's true about perception. There was an article in The New Yorker about this guy who had his arm amputated, and he had the sensation that the phantom fist was always clenched. Drove him crazy. So they put him next to a mirror in such a way that half his body was reflected and it looked like he had the arm on that side. Then they had him conduct orchestral music and watch the mirrored side (the arm that was missing but now appeared to be there). Fist-clenching sensation went away and never came back.

At 10:31 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Wow. I am actually very reserved in new situations, and I did worry a lot at Dallas last year about how to talk to new people. And I did feel really awkward telling people what I wrote.

This is a wonderful post, and I'm going to try all these suggestions!

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Thanks so much for having me, Esri! It truly is amazing how powerful the mind is. I've seen extraordinary things over the years from my hypnotherapy clients.

Hi, Gillian! I hope the suggestions are helpful for you. Have a great conference!

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Welcome Lynda! Love this topic. Positive thinking and vision boards and living in the moment is something I began doing in early 2007 and it has literally changed my life. Just by changing my mind set I have a whole new attitude and I'm grateful for everything around me. For me, it did take "training." But now I don't even have to think about getting rid of negative talk in my head because I seldom think negative thoughts. Like many others, I'm struggling to get published. I used to be bitter about the hard road to publication but now I'm just enjoying the ride, thankful that I have a passion for writing and that I get to do it every single day.

BUT, I do get nervous when it comes to talking to editors and agents at conference. Even when I don't feel like I am nervous. Not until I start talking. I'm going to use your tips and start there and see if I can get past the nervous jitters.

Thanks for the great post, Lynda!

At 11:27 AM, Blogger Melissa Mayhue said...

Hi, Lynda! *waving wildly*

This is one of my challenges at every conference. I always have to force myself to approach new people and introduce myself because just sitting quietly in the corner and watching is so much easier...but so much less productive!

Thanks for all the positive ideas!

~ Melissa

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Donnell said...

Lynda, I always find your talks so inspiring. I'm saving this post and printing it out by my computer. The introvert in me thanks you so much. Well done! Smart move Wet Noodle Posse for bringing this major talent on ;)

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Theresa, now I'm really excited about trying these. I was thinking in terms of trying it out for my whole life, not just writing. I do get after my girls to think positively, I just need to practice what I preach! :)

I'm not going to Nationals this year--not in the budget--but I am so excited for my CP Louisa Cornell, and I'll be cheering everyone on from KS. :)

At 12:34 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Thanks for the advice about thinking positively. I'm going to imagine all sorts of wonderful career events for my future when I go on my morning walks.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Oh, Gillian, sorry I won't get to see you in S.F. Maybe we'll see you in DC?

And yes, definitely practice the positive thinking every single day. And like Lynda said, you have to truly believe the positive affirmations, or at least it works better if you do believe it! For instance, my daughter tried it with school...she kept repeating in her mind, "I love school, I love school, I love school." but she didn't love school and so, of course, that wasn't working for her. I tried to have her focus more on "I can do this" sort of mantra, but it's easier just to be a positive force for your kids and let them learn by example. Isn't that right, Lynda?!

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Nancy said...

Lynda! Fantastic article, and your commentors have made wonderful points, too!

I've been using self-hypnosis, mediation, positive thinking, etc. for ages, and it has made a difference. Yes, I still have the negative slip in, and I cancel those thoughts and reinforce the positive again. It's all about the balance.

Esri, thank you for hosting Lynda!

Nancy Haddock
La Vida Vampire

At 1:41 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Theresa, have I told you lately how much I love your cheery personality? I'm happy with myself, but if I had the chance to add some Theresa genes, I'd jump on it. Just reading your posts makes me feel like I'm chock full of anti-stress vitamins. It's a gift, honey.


Nancy: LOVE your book title. I know I've heard it before and I keep meaning to check it out. Going to Amazon now, before I forget again.

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Dear Theresa: It's awesome that you've been able to transform your thoughts! Sometimes it seems I'm able to distract myself from my negative self-talk for about four nanoseconds, and then it's back. It's like the old thinking has dug a highly magnetic Grand Canyon in my mind, and that huge chasm is always there, waiting to suck me in (can't resist a vampire reference, grin), if I give it the least attention! Learning to focus on what we desire instead of what is or what used to be is so incredibly powerful! I hope you'll let me know how the conference goes!

Melissa! Thanks so much for dropping by! (Melissa and I have done several book signings together in Colorado and I have to say that she has a wonderful way with people.) Whatever you're doing to encourage yourself to get out and mingle with the publishing world, it's certainly working! I wish you continued success and happiness, my friend.

Donnell! Thanks so much for your sweet words. I'm sending you a cyber hug and hope we get to connect in person again very soon!

Gillian: One of the things I love about the Law of Attraction is that it's vibrational. Not only does positive thinking change things psychologically (it definitely makes us feel better), but holding a desired focus literally begins to pull what is wanted. I love imagining myself as a huge magnet -- choosing the energy I align with. The more we can imagine our desired outcomes, the more evidence of those outcomes will manifest. Or, at least that's been my experience!

At 2:19 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Lynda: I bet, if I listened to a certain piece of music whenever you did a success visualization, you could quickly get into that mindset just by listening to the music. I might try that with a visualization where I'm writing really fast and well, with no internal editor.

At 2:19 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Oh, and then listen to that music before sitting down to write. Forgot to mention that part.

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Dear Mo H: Yes! Walking and imagining! What a great combo. I get so much inspiration and motivation when I use my walking time to create happy outcomes in my mind! Then I memorize that good feeling so I can use it as a touchstone all day!

Theresa: That's an excellent example. Using affirmations that are in conflict with true beliefs will only cause resistance. It's very easy to simply change the wording until the statement feels right. Then watch out!

Sometimes, if I've given my attention to a negative pattern, and I'm flailing around in habitual energy, I can't get all the way over to a positive statement. When I repeat things like, "everything is working out great," my Inner Critic says, "in what universe?" So, instead of fighting with her, it's easier for me to take a couple of baby steps back, and to begin with "it's possible that everything can work out great," or "maybe things really CAN work out great." Something more general that feels true for me in the moment. Then, as I inch forward, I can empower the statements.

What great advice you gave your daughter!

Hi, Nancy! I couldn't agree more about the balance. I've always noticed your posts on the various loops and how positive and uplifting you are! Major congratulations on your recent release! I can't wait to read it. Much success to you!

At 2:39 PM, Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Esri: Music! Oh, yes. Just the music alone can alter brain waves and transform moods. I know I can uplift myself, reduce my stress or gain motivation by listening to certain tunes. My clients often tell me that they're so accustomed to "going deeper" just by listening to me talk in session, that the sound of my voice on my voice mail message makes them relax! Hopefully, they're not calling from their cars! It's all positive ritual.

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Cher Gorman said...

Hi Lynda!! (waving madly)

What a great topic for this blog! Every time I go to national I have to really psych myself out before I get there. For me it's mentally exhausting to be there in those crowds of authors, editors,agents. Thanks for your post. I'm going to save it and keep reading it between now and the end of July.

Thanks for being here,


At 5:06 PM, Blogger Viola Estrella said...

Hi Lynda!

Great suggestions! I'm going to use these, especially at the conference.

I love that quote from Goethe. I have the entire quote printed out and tacked up above my computer. It's been a wonderful inspiration for me.


At 6:07 PM, Blogger Anna Lucia said...

This is great, Lynda, thank you! I'm definitely equipped with a, "when pigs fly," internal critic!

I have that Goethe quote up above my desk, given by a great friend of mine. I had no idea it was Goethe, though! :-)

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Hi, Cher! (madly waving back!) Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm right in there with you! I get so overwhelmed in crowds that I literally have to go find a protected corner to stand in, or I have to go up to my room! Group energy really does a number on me (and other sensitive souls!). I think it's important for us to know when we need a time out! I've learned over the years to take a strategic step back when I need one!

Hey, Viola! I love that quote, too. I try to fill my walls with inspirational and uplifting things (which includes some photos of great looking guys!). Grin. Hugs to you.

Hi, Anna: LOl! I think a lot of us can relate to the harsh Inner Critic. This is going to sound very strange, but sometimes -- when my IC is really letting me have it -- I bring in my "Yes Choir." The Yes Choir consists of about 20 of my positive inner characters who file into the theater of my mind, clutching microphones, where they proceed to make a joyful noise on my behalf! They drown out the IC. She finally gives up and sings along! (Hey, I'll do whatever works!) Thanks for your comment.

At 7:11 PM, Blogger Kathleen Grieve said...

Great quotes, Lynda. I'm inspired!

Kathleen Grieve
Author of Fun & Sexy Medical Romances

At 9:48 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

What a fabulous uplifting post Lynda! This is definitely getting printed out and going with me to Nationals. I am VERY nervous as this is my very first national conference. And as my dear buddy, Gillian, none of my fabulous CPs are going to be there with me! EEEEK. However, the owner of our local little bookstore is coming along and she is a big cheerleader for my work.

This whole year has been a bit scary for me when it comes to my writing and I really needed to read your great techniques and I am going to start practicing them now.

I am very familiar with hypnosis, guided imagery and visual imagery as my darling late DH was a psychiatrist who used these techniques with his clients. In fact I use the guided imagery he taught me to get rid of my crippling migraines. It really works!

I have got to follow Esri over to Amazon and get your book, Lynda. Sounds wonderful! And I am SO with you on the pictures of hot guys in my writing studio, strictly for inspirational purposes of course. I have to take them down tomorrow because my Mom is bringing my niece and nephews down to do some yard work and home repair for me. Don't want to shock the kids. Or my MOM! LOL

At 11:10 PM, Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Dear Kathleen: Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you like the quotes. Have a great week!

Louisa: Have a wonderful time at the conference. I'm so happy your bookstore friend is going with you. Having a pal can make all the difference! That's awesome that hypnosis helped your migraines! I love stories like that. LOL about taking the hot guy photos down! There's always your stash on your computer!! Thanks so much for your sweet post.

It's been so great being here today. Thanks so much, everyone, for the warm welcome and the great discussion. Have an uplifting summer!

At 5:45 PM, Blogger Rosemary Carstens said...

Lynda: What an inspiring piece! Writers are so vulnerable--we piece words together like a patchwork quilt of our dreams and hopes and it is SO difficult to expose that to others as we force ourselves to do the pitching and marketing essential these days in our industry. Thank you for giving us something to fall back on, for encouraging us -- Rosemary Carstens --

At 8:22 AM, Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Dear Rosemary: You're always so kind and supportive! Thank you so much for dropping by and leaving a comment. I appreciate you.

At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Tiffany James said...


Your advice is wonderful! I have been paying more attention to the little voices that talk inside my head (my voices, not my characters' :0) ). Wow! I had no idea how often negative babble was running through my head! Now, I immediately reverse it to something positive.


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