How To Stay Positive During the Writing Process

The Motivation of a "Saved" Folder

Jill Sylvester, LMHC

Years ago, while I wrote my first novel, The Land of Blue, I began highlighting the positive feedback my editor gave me during our phone calls. It was a way for me to keep my mood lifted through the process; the challenging, disciplined process of writing a book.

I would highlight the positive notes, the supportive statements about my writing and my message, the yesss’s!, the predictions of what sentences would mean so much to my future readers. I would re-read those highlights after each call in order to stay focused, true to my mission, and to feel the wind at my back.

When the book was complete, and I was able to step back and see the forest for the trees, I realized I had an entire folder’s worth of highlighted positive feedback, woven throughout all the do-overs, the rewrites, the dismal first pages.

It reminded me of the infamous, motivating tale of baseball great’s Babe Ruth: In 1923, he struck out more times than any other player in Major League Baseball. That same year though, Babe Ruth also broke the record for most home runs in a season.

We have to try and fail in order to succeed.

We must experience darkness in order to appreciate light.

Before I started my second (self-help) book, I would take out the “good” folder and read my editor’s positive feedback once again, for inspiration.

Then, I started saving emails from other people. Emails from readers of my blog, of my books, of my social media posts. You know those moments, the ones that catch you off guard when you’re caught up in the busy of doing and suddenly get stopped in your tracks to discover that something you wrote meant something to someone else, those moments that touch your heart in such a way that you truly need nothing else as a writer.

That’s the greatest reward: Those kinds of emails. That kind of feedback. The little treasures that pop-up like sea glass amongst the rocky, writing terrain.

I began filing these emails too, in an electronic folder, so that when I need to, I can revisit those colorful jewels for motivation.

Try it for yourself, in order to stay buoyant, in order to stay motivated, in order to remind yourself that yes, you are a writer, and that this is exactly what you are supposed to be doing.

Jill Sylvester is a licensed mental health counselor, author of the self-help book, “Trust Your Intuition: 100 Ways to Transform Anxiety and Depression for Stronger Mental Health,” and host of the “Trust Your Intuition Podcast.” Her work has been featured in Well+Good, Bustle, SheKnows, WorkingMother, Parenthood, TeenMentor, To receive her free weekly blog containing tips to better your life, subscribe at

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