In relationship psychology, there is this thing called the “five times positive”-rule. It says that for any relationship to remain positive over time, you need to have at least five times as many positive interactions as negative ones.
This is most commonly applied to parenting. If you yell at your kid once you have to make sure to have five positive play-dates with them before you yell at them again.
Otherwise, you’re going to get into recurring battles with your kids and your life will turn into a living hell.
Trust me on that one.
It also works for work relationships. If you have a negative, downer type of a co-worker, you will want to avoid them. If you have someone who is positive, you’ll want to work with them, or even just spend time with them. And when they “give you pointers” on things you “might want to improve” in your own work, you’re listening. Because they’ve spend the five times more positive energy in your relationship..
It’s the balance that matters. As long as the balance is positive, the general feeling remains positive. We want more of that type of interaction.
This goes for writing as well.
If you’re struggling with your writing, no matter how much willpower you have, you’ll want to abandon it eventually. You might go to a job where you are miserable because you need the money to survive, but no one forces us to write. And if writing makes us miserable. We’ll quit.
That’s where you need the five times positive rule.
You need to create systems where you will get five times as much positive interaction with your writing as negative. You don’t need to make writing fun every day. But, but if its fun more often than not, you’ll want to keep doing it.
How you achieve this depends entirely on what type of a writer, you are, what you love.
I have friends who create crap drafts. They just throw in everything they can into a really, really bad first draft, and do it really fast. Then they edit it and polish it and bring out the amazing things in their story. It works, because for them, creating that first draft is work while editing is play. They’re getting there five times more positive interaction in doing edits.
For me, it’s the other way around. I hate editing. So I make sure to write as cleanly as possible so I can get five times more fun while writing. And then my editing can be done in a single spellcheck pass.
That’s what works for me. It isn’t the method that matters. The method is something you need to figure out for yourself. Just figure out a way that works for you.
Figure out what makes it fun to write or work, or be with someone. Figure out what you enjoy about it, and how you can have more of that than the parts you don’t enjoy.
Maybe it means that you need to farm out the business part to somebody else by submitting to a traditional publisher or hiring a publicist. Maybe it means that you want to do all your Facebook ads or covers, or blog tours yourself. Maybe it means that you need both because you can’t do anything for too long before it starts to be boring.
I’m like that, by the way. I need to work on several projects at once or I will grow bored. That’s when my writing turns into a chore.
But whatever it is, where you get your five times more positive interactions from, find it and structure your process to make use of it. That way, you’ll be able to keep writing long after everybody else has have given up and faded away.