Friday, November 22, 2013

Getting Down To Business: Positivity

In this month's Getting Down To Business column, Donna Alward gets into the importance of attitude... and how it's more important than you may think.

If any of you read September's issue of the RWR, you'll know that I had an article on Anxiety featured. That's right -  I've got it. And when stress and anxiety flare up, the world is not the rosiest place.

So it might seem odd or even a little hypocritical for me to be talking about positivity today. But I promise it's not. Because even though I am a little like Archie Kennedy and Prone to Panic (couldn't resist the Hornblower reference), Positivity is still what I try to live by. Life is just so much EASIER when you're positive.

That's not to say that we don't all have bad days. We do. We all feel down and discouraged and upset and yes, even hopeless.

But it comes down to whether or not that's how you live your life or not.

My daughter has a teammate who drives me crazy. If he misses a shot, it's someone else's fault. The set up was wrong or the shuttle was crap and missing feathers or it should have been his partner's shot... you get the idea. Do you know people like that? Are they the kind of people you want to be around? Are they the kind you want to work with?

Sometimes it's hard to be positive. Last winter I really struggled when several things happened career-wise that might have been roadblocks. Big ones. It was often really hard to look on the bright side, because change can be difficult. When several changes come one after the other, it can be quite stressful. The future you had mapped out no longer seems certain because you're making a detour. If these are decisions that are being made FOR you rather than BY you, it can be even more difficult. You can feel out of control of your career and still have to make the adjustments.

What got me through? Positivity.

Do not ever underestimate the power of a smile.

How many times have you talked to someone on the phone and you could "hear" the smile in their voice? In publishing, a lot of your contact will be either through e-mail or the phone with your agent or editor or whoever you're having to deal with. By being pleasant and upbeat, the person on the other end will probably be much more likely to help you with what you need. Key example: working with my St. Martin's Press editor. She makes work FUN even when she gives me lots of it to do (like heavy revisions). Her positive attitude makes me WANT TO WORK HARDER FOR HER. Why shouldn't that work the other way? If I have a positive attitude, maybe the people I'm working with will be more inclined to give me a hand with things I need too?

I'm having a hard time writing this without tooting my own horn, but I'm going to say it anyway. I think probably half the opportunities that have come my way are not because I'm so talented and awesome but because I have a positive attitude and am willing to work hard AND smile at the end of the day. When I send e-mail, it's usually conversational and warm (at least I hope). I try to be the same on the phone. I like to laugh and joke around a bit, and I have a natural enthusiasm for what I do. I try not to think about the roadblocks in my way but what lies ahead that is going to be great. I try not to lament about the past but look forward. In short - it's not about what life brings to you but it's what you bring to it.

Here's something else - if you are warm and positive, even when making hard decisions or when you have to say no, chances are you haven't burned any bridges. When I go to conference, I genuinely enjoy being around people who are in the same industry with the same passions and interests and I think it shows. And all of it helps me build goodwill, hopefully not only with my industry coworkers but with my readers as well.

There's a saying we writers have and I have to credit the awesome Kate Walker as the first one to enlighten me to its worth. It's called "Smiling from the wrists down". It's about being positive online and putting that positive image forward. Life isn't all rosy and my friends know that as I vent and moan to them about stuff all the time. At the same time, we share the good and we're each other's cheerleaders. We don't bother with jealousy or resentment. In fact, I think I'm back to the "surround yourself with good people" thing once again. It truly does help.

Anyway, it's just something to think about as you wade your way through your path to or through publication. Are you a glass half-empty or glass half-full person?

Donna's latest book is A CADENCE CREEK CHRISTMAS, out now!


  1. Lovely post, Donna, and you come across as exactly how you are in real life - positive and a joy to be around :) xxx

  2. Great article, Donna and you know, I too feel like a positive attitude has opened doors for me!!

  3. Kate's right, Donna, you are a joy to be around. :)

  4. Lovely post Donna - and I agree with Kate too. You always make my day. BTW, Cathryn, you are only the second person I've met who spells their name that way. Love the y.

  5. What a great post, Donna! And I echo what others have said here--you are what you preach. It's always nice to run into you at a conference because you have that beautiful smile and are always friendly and warm. Not just good for your career, but a great gift to put out into the world. :)

  6. OMG, these comments are just like a great big hug (which I needed today!). Thanks so much!

  7. What a warm and inspiring post, Donna--just like you.

  8. Fab post, Donna. Congrats on generating all this positivity while still battling anxiety. That's no mean feat!! Inspiring.