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“Who Says You Can’t Get Stoned?”

by Jennifer on February 2, 2010

By Jennifer Blanchard

Lately I’ve been challenging the beliefs I was raised on and it’s been a real struggle to make changes to my belief system.

Your belief system is ingrained in you. Your belief system is the thing that helps you make decisions on a day-to-day basis. It’s the thing that keeps you following a certain path in life.

When you believe something, it becomes your reality.

I’m challenging the following beliefs:

  • Money doesn’t grow on trees—My mother would say this whenever my brother and I would ask for things she couldn’t provide for us.
  • You can’t make a living as a fiction writer—Society and every creative writing teacher I’ve ever had has said that it’s impossible to make a living as a full-time fiction writer.
  • “That’s” not in the cards for us—Whenever something good would happen to someone or to another family, my mom would tell us, “God bless so-and-so. That’s not in the cards for us.”

These beliefs were taught to me growing up by the people I trusted most in the world. These beliefs were then reinforced by society and the world around me.

So I grew up thinking that my dream of being a fiction writer couldn’t really happen and that it would be really difficult for me to make a six-(or seven!)-figure income a year and that really good things only happened to other people, but not to me.

As I look back now, I see how much of an impact these limiting beliefs had on the choices I’ve made so far in my life. For example, instead of going to college to study creative writing (like I always dreamed of doing), I went to college for journalism because that’s “the kind of writing you can earn a paycheck from.”

I thought these were beliefs I’d have for the rest of my life, even though I didn’t want them. They were so hammered into me that it felt fake to believe something otherwise (like being a full-time fiction writer).

But then toward the end of last year, singer, John Mayer, released his new album, Battle Studies. And the first track off that new album posed a question that I think is important for all writers to ask themselves when thinking about their writing dreams and goals: Who says?

Who says you can’t make a living as a fiction writer? Who says you can’t write a novel? Who says your writing dream can’t happen?

I mean, think about it: How many times have you heard someone say, “Well you know what they say…”? Countless, probably!

But when you return their question with another question: “Who’s ‘they’” The person never has an answer for you.

It’s because ‘they’ is just the pronoun used to disguise a person passing their belief off onto you.

So for example, how many times have you told someone “Well, you know what they say…” and then finished the sentence with something that’s in alignment with your beliefs? Countless, probably!

I can think of thousands of times I’ve seen someone doing something I disagree with (like eating trans fats) and I can almost hear myself saying, “Well you know what they say…”

My point, however, is that there is no “they.”

So I’ve decided that enough is enough. I refuse to let the limiting beliefs I was raised on hold me back from having the life I want and the life I know I deserve.

I encourage you also take some time to reflect on the beliefs you currently have to see how they’re affecting you and your life.

Anytime you want to challenge your beliefs (or any beliefs that people push on you), just ask yourself “who says?”

“Who says you can’t get stoned?” “Who says you can’t be everything you’ve ever wanted to be?” “Who says you can’t make your writing dreams a reality?”


What beliefs have been holding you back from your writing dreams?

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is founder of Procrastinating Writers. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christina February 2, 2010 at 11:33 am

Thank you for this.

2 Laura Lee Bloor February 2, 2010 at 11:41 am

Love it! Whether its writing goals or other big goals and dreams we have, I’ve noticed I’ve definitely had to make changes in my mindset/thoughts/beliefs. You’re so right that some of this stuff (ex: “That’s not in the cards for us”) is so second-nature to us, that it takes a while to even recognize and even longer to undo. But the more you challenge your beliefs, the easier it gets.

3 Rebecca February 2, 2010 at 3:40 pm

That is one of the reasons I love Allison Winn Scotch’s blog. She basically dreams big – that’s how she does it. And look at her now! Five years ago she had never published a novel and now she is a NY Times Bestseller with three books out there!

4 Eliza February 3, 2010 at 5:02 pm

This is so, so true. Really, the biggest thing holding us back is ourselves, and our willingness to believe things that we’ve been taught to believe. I still find it difficult to believe that I can make a living as a full time fiction writer. And occasionally words to that effect will come tumbling out of my mouth. But, more and more often, I’ve been very conscious to say the opposite.
Not “if” I become a full time author, but “when”. As in “When I’m making a living as an author, we’re going to need to hire an accountant!” This said shortly after I biffed up our ‘easy’ taxes…
My biggest problem right now is not believing I have the talent/skill it takes to tell a good story. Working on it, though.

5 Alanna Klapp February 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Hi Jennifer! I couldn’t agree with you more! I did the same thing, instead of going to college to study creative writing, I studied fashion merchandising (I did minor in creative writing so I’m glad I did do that) because I could “make a living at it.” My “plan” was to get a job in the fashion industry and write on the side. Do you think I’m doing that now? I worked in the fashion field for 2 years (during which time I didn’t write at all) and I was miserable. Now I work as an accountant in a manufacturing facility and I’m trying to work up to making a living part-time as a writer. The goal after that is to write full-time, but there are days, many days, when it all seems impossible. Thanks for this post. Who says, anyway? I’m so sick of hearing how hard making a living as a writer is to achieve, and it’s so refreshing to read the exact opposite on this blog. Best of luck to you with all of your writing!

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