New Year's Resolution: Five Ways to Let Words Influence Your Writing Career



Five Ways to Let Words Influence Your Writing Career

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the
multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers
Where is your talent? Pinpoint it and let it shine.
Today we’re going to give ourselves a little gift for the New Year. We’re going to talk about how habits increase our chance at success--or not. Habits are influenced by thought patterns which are in turn influenced by the seeds of our subconscious. Those seeds are words. So reaching for success by changing how we think about words as they relate to our progress in life are often espoused by leaders like psychologists and business leaders like Elle Kaplan, CEO and founder of Lexion Capital, an investment management firm.
To use our talents more effectively we want habits that nurture our better selves. We want our best habits to dominate our world view, but we can also turn habits we consider destructive into positives. We can do that with the power of words; we substitute words that influence us negatively for those that move us forward. It occurs to me that the process may be easier for writers who already aware of and accept the power of words in our lives. We can make a few words (and habits!) that work against us into words (and habits) that work for us—both consciously and subconsciously.
Defensiveness can become curiosity. Curiosity nurtures new ideas, new successes. Curiosity helps in our endeavors to observe details more creatively. Generally speaking, writers have already honed that skill. But curious people also listen more acutely. The asking of questions and the listening to answers are important skills for authors who do public speaking or teaching. Asking questions can get you out of a whole lot of hot water. You may even discover that you have common ground with a heckler!
Envy or jealousy are similar to admiration. When we use the “a” word—admire—instead of letting the little green monster take control of our thought patterns, we begin to see how we easy it is to emulate what we admire. That simple change is a positive pattern for growth.
Turn procrastination into achievement. Tasks, jobs, assignments sometimes feel like burdens. When you focus on hating them, they are destructive. Instead, rearrange your thinking. Think of them as opportunities for learning. Maybe for learning another skill. Maybe that skill will be organizing our time better. You’ll think of others that might be particularly useful to you as you tackle each of your projects with a different attitude.
Turn gut or knee-jerk reactions into level-headed thinking. One way to do this is to avoid making decisions when you are upset, disgruntled, feeling jealous, angry, sad . . . or even overly excited or enthusiastic. This rule has been with most of us since our parents told us not to act until after we have counted to ten. When we substitute the new term for the old, it becomes easier to do. Besides, we now have maturity on our side.
Here’s the most important change. And perhaps the most difficult. How many celebrities have we seen get themselves into trouble because they haven’t turned their success into humility? Success follows as your life-skills improve. Why not tape the word “humility” to your bathroom mirror as a reminder of how to handle success. It will happen. Success fosters more success. And you have the power of words on your side.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers includes the third edition of The Frugal Book Promoter and from Modern History Press, The Frugal Editor, which won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and the coveted Irwin award, and How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.
Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.
The author loves to travel. She visited ninety-one countries before the Year of Covid and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is


Terry Whalin said...


Thank you for this thoughtful article--which is loaded with seasoned insights and wisdom about curiosity and humility plus many other areas for us to think about and work on new habits for the days ahead in 2021 and beyond.

Happy New Year,


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Thank hou for dropping by, Terry! May your 2021 be your most successful year yet!
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

deborah lyn said...

Thanks for this powerful post, Carolyn! Turning our thought patterns, turns our attitudes and nurtures our path forward. Thank you for suggesting several of the turns: defensive to curiosity, envy to admiration, procrastination to achievement, knee-jerk to level headed, and employing humility. Wonderful & encouraging!

Karen Cioffi said...

Carolyn, thank you for this thoughtful post that's perfect for the beginning of 2021. Our lives are made up of habits. Your advice can help us change those 'bad' habits to good ones. It's all about what we tell ourselves.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I just love how the technique for making changes works so well for people who understand how words can affect out thought patterns! Thkx for the comments, Deborah Lyn, Karen Cioffi and Terry Whalin.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson

lastpg said...

I whole-heartedly agree with what everyone has said. I'd like to add my two cents about success. Recently, my SCBWI chapter has asked for sign-ups for a week-long virtual retreat coming up soon. I thought--not this year--I have too much to do. Then I remembered that the invitation is only extended to experienced authors. A few years ago I wasn't invited because I needed to join the ranks. So, when the opportunity to become the editor of the newsletter presented itself, I took it. I needed not only to gain experience, but also to show the members what I can do. Last newsletter was my best yet, partly due to some innovations on my part, but mostly because I'd enlisted many interesting submissions. A week ago I was asked to serve on a panel of authors--a first! In addition to these SBWI successes, I've moved on to being the author of multiple books. In my mind, I feel successful that I've reached this place. There is still much room for improvement, of course, but I now feel successful rather than a struggling newbie as I was before. Your article is very helpful as a reminder to take it all in stride and remain humble. In the future, there will still be many mountains to climb.

Karen Cioffi said...

Linda, Wow! Congratulations on all you've accomplished. I know they'll be more to come!

Reach More Readers: Go Bilingual

Soon my picture book, Tall Boots , will be available in English and Spanish By Linda Wilson  @LinWilsonauthor While presenting programs abou...