Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Power of Words

Words have power. Power to move. Power to hurt. Power to change us. We all believe that. (If we didn’t, then we’re in the wrong business!) Lately, I’ve been working on changing the conversation in my own head. The topic? The difference between Have To and Get To.

When I was a young girl and the teachers gave us a few minutes of free time, I'd open my journal and write poetry. Writing was a Get To. As in, I get to write!

And when I first started writing for publication, I enjoyed the process of creating, the chase and thrill of landing freelancing jobs. Writing was still a Get To activity. As in, I can’t believe I get to do this for money!

But then I began writing full-time. “Author” became my occupation on forms. And while I still mostly liked the process, I found myself saying things like, “I have to finish that chapter!” and “I have to get my pages in for the day.” and “I have to think of a new idea for a book!”

Writing was a Have To for a long time. Then I made a conscience decision to switch from non-fiction to fiction, to shake things up. My first novel was a Get To. Even my second novel was a Get To. But lately, I’ve noticed the Have To voice creeping back in. I have some theories about why that is, but the why isn’t important.

Sitting down at the computer (or with pen and journal in hand) and telling yourself you “have to” write is one powerful way to send your muse running and screaming from the room. Or, at the very least, into a tantrum in the corner. So, instead, I’ve been telling myself, “I GET TO write today!”

It’s been an interesting experiment these last couple of weeks and here’s what I’ve learned: Have To is work. Get To is play. One demands a certain number of pages or a certain kind of product. The other invites adventure and allows for daydreaming. One is a destination. The other is an open door.

Which one do you think is more productive?

You’re right. :-)

Now, let’s get busy. After all, we GET TO write today!


  1. I'm changing my inner-dialogue as of today because of your post, Carmella.

  2. Car, attitude can make such a difference for productivity sometimes!

  3. Even when I'm on a deadline, I still love writing. It's always fun for me, even when it's work. I'm very grateful that I can honestly say I love my job. :D

  4. It's definitely a pychological game me and my muse play everyday. But I can say coffee and chocolate make it more bearable to grin it out.


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