Here are the final five.
1. Magnification and Minimization. You blow things out of proportion.
Writer thinks: People are finding all these typos in my novel. I’m humiliated. I’d like to crawl into a hole and hide.
Reboot: You’re getting feedback. It’s an opportunity for improvement.
Or you shrink their significance.
Writer thinks: It’s not worth fixing the typos.
Reboot: (Same as above.)
2. Emotional Reasoning. You allow your feelings to color your perceptions.
Writer thinks: It’s really daunting to come up with topics for posts. I’m not cut out to be a blogger.
Reboot: Feeling stuck is part of being a writer. You know what to do. Brainstorm, experiment and keep moving forward.
3. Should Statements. You bully yourself or others with musts and commands.
Writer thinks: I should be breezing through these revisions. What’s wrong with me?
Reboot: Who said revisions would be easy? If you’re working at it, the end result will be improvements.
4. Labeling. You call yourself names on the basis of a single flaw or mistake.
Writer thinks: I blew that pitch to the agent at the writer’s conference. I’m such a jerk.
Reboot: Give yourself some compassion. You were really nervous. What can you learn from this?
5. Blame. Instead of identifying the cause of a problem, you find a scapegoat. There are two types.
a. Self-Blame. You criticize yourself for things that aren’t your fault or beat up on yourself even for minor mistakes.
Writer thinks: Oh no! I misspelled the agent’s name in my query. Stupid, stupid, stupid!
Reboot: Like that never happened to the agent before? Next time, be more careful.
b. Other-Blame. You blame others and deny your own contribution to the problem.
Writer thinks: I’m not selling enough books. It’s all my publicist’s fault.
Reboot: My publicist and I need to have a strategy session to figure out what each of us can do to boost sales.
Get the idea? Thinking something terrible doesn’t necessarily make it true and may shackle us to demoralization and doubt. Listen to your own “tape” next time you’re down on yourself and see if you can hit rewind.