Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Power of Positive Thinking

Last week I attended the beginning of the Miss America 2013 pageants. Fifteen beautiful young ladies competed for the honor of representing our small college city, the local area, and the larger surrounding area. Each demonstrated amazing talents, but only three girls won, and fewer still stood out to me.

I noticed, however, that the girls I favored all had one thing in common. They were all incredibly positive.

One of the girls livened up a harp piece by rapping on the casing and flinging out her arms every time she finished a scale. Another made an esoteric violin solo approachable by playing songs the audience knew. Still another performed a heart-stopping hula dance that drew my most taciturn friend into letting out a whoop of approval.

On this stage with fifteen 'characters', I have mentioned three- the cheerful ones. The melodramatic ones I have left out, relegating them to mere placeholders in this story.

It's always easy to be dramatic. It seems that people pay more attention to the negative- the only critical post I have made to date generated twice as much traffic as my previously most popular post alone. News stories always seem to have tragic, shocking news on the first page. The YA section is filled with emo vampire books.

And yet, I believe the positive is more powerful and has far more staying power. Who are you more likely to root for, the whiner or the one who sees the difficulty, isn't afraid to tackle it, and still manages to laugh at himself?

Yes, it's more difficult to be positive, especially when you've just seen your characters through hell and back again. But perhaps the difficulty is what keeps it from going out of style. To be able to make your readers weep is a tremendous challenge that many writers strive for. To make them sing with joy is much more difficult, but it will keep them coming back to your book again and again. To do both? Unthinkable.

It's easy to be negative. I want to be positive. I want to seek out the good in fiction and fantasy and talk about amazing experiences with words. I won't always be able to do so- sometimes I'll feel the need to point out how something went wrong, but I'll always focus on how it could be better, how it should be better, because all writing should be excellent.

This is a blog about reaching the best of your writing potential. I want to be the best writer I can possibly be, and I want you to come with me on the journey.

What do you think? Is fighting for the positive worth it? Do you want to change the world one post at a time?

Note: The title of this post is from a book by Norman Vincent Peale.


  1. Finding the positive in all of life's situations takes courage, strength of will and at times, determination beyond measure. We don't root for the whiny characters because they're not doing anything worth rooting for. They're weak. It's the struggle that fascinates us, motivates and edifies us. To succeed in the face of adversity is what makes a hero a hero and a character (or person) we love and admire.

    Good post.

    1. Wow, that's an amazing exploration of the idea. It almost makes me want to be a hero. Thank you.

  2. This is a great post on life. The positive ones get remembered while the melodramatic avoided.