I confess. I talk to myself. I don’t argue or whine or shout. Calm, carefully chosen words fill my mind and escape my lips when I’m pondering a problem or working through a speech.
My kids notice and comment. “Are you talking to yourself, Mom?”
“I do that.”
Recently, at a conference I saw the first agent who ever requested my manuscripts. After reading them, he declined representation, saying the writing “wasn’t very good.” I learned from that cutting response. I took classes, read craft books, wrote a lot, entered contests with feedback, and I improved. The two manuscripts he passed over were edited carefully and eventually sold to a respectable publisher.
As I saw him walk by I composed a speech in my head. I wanted to thank him, to tell him without his input I might not have been motivated to work hard to improve my craft. By the time I had the words just right, he’d passed by and my opportunity was missed. The two people sitting on each side of me looked at me oddly.
“Did I speak aloud?” I asked.
“It was a good speech,” said one.
I cringed and lowered my head. Good speech or not, I really need to learn to keep words inside my head.
I have a character in one of my books who encourages herself aloud. Paige Reynoso is a vineyard manager in A Kiss of Cabernet. She talks to herself when she needs encouragement or reminders of her intrinsic value. “You can do this,” she says aloud. “You’re smart, you’re competent, you have tons of experience. So figure it out.”
I do that, too. Driving home in blinding rain from an airport ninety miles away nearly did me in once. I was terrified because I couldn’t see and there was nowhere to pull over until the squall passed. All the time I talked to myself out loud. “Keep going, follow the white line, the rain will pass. You’re fine. You’re fine. You’re fine.”
I hear lots of people speak aloud when they bang a finger or get cut off by a driver. I won’t repeat here what they say, but no difference, right?
So I’ll keep working through my problems out loud or keep giving myself prompts when I’m doing something that takes concentration. Believing in yourself can’t be bad. Confidence prompts are great when they come from other people, but it’s essential they also come from yourself.
The day I answer out loud?
Then I might have a problem.
Do you talk to yourself out loud, or only in your head?