Increased Productivity Through Resilient Writing - Guest Post by Peter Prichard

“Resilient people don’t wait for others to rescue them; they work through their feelings, set goals, work to reach their goals, and often emerge from the resiliency process with a better life than before.”

“The Resiliency Advantage”, Al Siebert, PhD

“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

Nelson Mandela


Any professional has setbacks, frustrations and obstacles that get in the way of reaching their goals.  That is particularly true for writers because of the personal nature of the writing process.  The more effective you are in dealing effectively with obstacles and difficulties, the more work you will get done.

The best way to lessen the negative impact of obstacles that surface is to plan for it by creating a strategy and gathering resources that can help when negative events take place.  I provide relevant books in every blog that I post on Supporting Independent Authors. In my previous blog on time management I featured the work of Stephen Covey and his book, “The 7 Habits of Effective People.”

The primary resources in this blog are the work of Al Siebert, Ph.D. and his books The Resiliency Advantage – and – The Survivor Personality.  Siebert is an acknowledged expert regarding research on resilience and his website link provided later in this blog provides a five-minute assessment of how likely you are to handle obstacles and setbacks effectively.

Dr. Siebert defines Resiliency as, “Being able to bounce back from life developments that may feel totally overwhelming at first.”  What follow is my six-part process for moving forward in a positive way when negative events get in the way of your book being created or a success. 

#1. Find out how resilient you really are.

The first piece of data you are going to receive about your resilience relates to Julian Rotter’s ground-breaking work on Locus of Control. 

Please answer the following question honestly.  “Do you believe that external events primarily shape what happens to you or do you believe that you can influence events and their outcomes?”

There have been numerous studies of Rotter’s research on Locus of Control. According to his research, individuals who have a high locus of control believe that they can shape what happens to them and therefore are usually more resilient and have more of a belief that they can positively shape their own lives.   Individuals who have a low locus of control do not feel their personal efforts could improve their situation and will often blame others.

Your answer to that question provides a starting point in your evaluation of how much work you need to do to become very successful at dealing with negative events that surface while writing, publishing and marketing your writings.  If you do not have strong beliefs that your personal efforts can improve your situation you will be more likely to be slowed by obstacles that get in your way.

For those of you who want to find out more about how resilient you are please go to the link that follows and take Dr. Siebert’s resiliency quiz:

You are not asked for contact information and the quiz takes five minutes. The website contains not only this short, confidential quiz but along with the quiz, you can access many free articles and resources based on Dr. Al Siebert’s foundational work on resiliency.

#2. Evaluate your pattern for dealing with negative occurrences.   

Take some time and think back through your life to those situations you had to deal with that were difficult, where you were dealing with a negative situation.  Ask yourself how you handled it, did you handle it effectively and move forward quickly?  What was your pattern of action or inaction?  Observe if it fits into our answer above about how much of an influence you believe you can have on a situation.  If you find that you do a very good job of acting resiliently and moving ahead then keep the process of how you do that close to you and you should be able to effectively continue that behavior moving ahead. 

If in looking at your pattern of dealing with negative occurrences and your thoughts about how much control you personally have over what happens to you has not been working, the rest of this blog and Dr. Siebert’s resources on his site provide multiple suggestions.

#3. What people that you know create positive energy and movement? 

Who are the key people who you have interacted with over the years who when you are with them immediately help you feel more positive?  Ask yourself after creating a list of those individuals who have the most positive impact on you; how often do you communicate with them?  If it is regularly you don’t need to do anything.  If your answer is, “Not anywhere near as often as I would like,” I encourage you to think about how to change that, starting with communicating more regularly with those individuals who have the most positive impact on your mood and in general.  I have worked with many individuals regarding reaching their goals and have found that those who are surrounded by a supportive and positive network of relatives, colleagues and friends are more likely to successfully reach their goals than those who are not.

#4. What people slow you down or demotivate you? 

A future blog will provide information on how to have difficult conversations.  If you know that you need to have difficult conversations with specific people who are roadblocks to the success of your writing efforts, the books I will reference in that blog are two from the Harvard Negotiation Project, Getting to Yes by Fisher and Ury and Difficult Conversations by Stone, Patton and Heen.

If you have one or more people who really slow down your writing there are multiple ways to deal with that reality.  The first is to say to them something like, “I have a problem and need your help.  I am really working hard on moving forward with my writing and the:

-number of times we are meeting each week


-the way you constantly put down my writing


-the way you always interrupt me when I have told you I am in writing mode


whatever the issue is,

really slows down my progress.

And then hopefully the conversation will move toward how whatever the person is doing might lessen. If not, both books above from the Harvard Negotiation Project provide positive suggestions for having tough conversations. 

#5. What activities energize you to action?

What are the proven activities that immediately provide you with a positive boost? 

One for me is nature videos.  I carry the link below with me and access it regularly wherever I am:

Another is quotes.  I have the following quotes and a dozen more surrounding me in my writing space and carry an extended list on my cell phone:

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”  Henry Ford

“There are only two ways to lead your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

Since I am a music guy, I also keep music quotes on my phone and listen to music that creates a positive mood.  A quote I have carried with me for years is,

“I was born a lonely singer, and I’m bound to die the same,

But I’ve got to feed the hunger in my soul.

And if I never have a nickel, I won’t ever die ashamed,

‘Cos I don’t believe that no-one wants to know.”

Kris Kristofferson, “To Beat the Devil.”

I doctored that quote years ago, replacing singer with writer and it makes me smile and helps me move forward every time around the belief that people do want to know what I have to say.

I have asked hundreds of individuals who I have coached the question of what energizes them to action and have heard many speak to pictures of people they love, pictures of peak moments in their life, sports related anecdotes, being near water, relaxing in a park or place of worship and the list goes on.

What are activities that provide positive energy to you that you could carry around with you or access easily? Again, when negative stuff happens focusing on energizing people or actions that create a positive reaction often lessens the negative feelings and the likelihood that the negative situation will slow you down in a way that slows the likelihood that you will reach your writing goal.

#6. Anticipate setbacks before they happen and plan a response.

Whether you have been writing for a long time or are just starting, you know events that can occur that might throw you off your game.  Individuals who have said they will help with your writing in some way and don’t, difficulty with marketing your published work, etc. Knowing that particular events might happen allows you to access resources you have gathered that help you move forward during a difficult stretch.

The positive reality is that a resilient way of responding to bad situations can be learned, practiced and grown if one is interested in trying to do that.  The resources Dr. Siebert offers are a good place to begin.