Fair warning here–we’re not really going to be conducting ritual acts of voodoo and black magic to charm our way into the ranks of comicdom. It’s more like an exercise to psychologically reinforce your positive “can do” attitude and exorcise the demons of negativity. Those of you that still think it would be better to just sneak your way in with the help of actual magic, just skip this article and contact me at iwannalearnpatiencenow@darkora.net (and wait for a response before taking any action).

Bad reviews, harsh critiques, rejection letters, overwhelming self-doubts, and obstacle after obstacle toss up the roadblocks on the road to your dreams. These things add up and can even rattle the best of us at times. To keep going, you need some thick skin, a positive attitude and enough knowledge in your craft to cull the useful commentary from the crap. The knowledge can be gained through study and training, but how can you get that thick skin and high-octane positive attitude? You could start early by writing essay papers on Norman Vincent Peale when you’re in fourth grade or you could get a job in a hostile verbal work environment…like working in customer service/tech support somewhere. That would give you a good start, but is there more you could do? Yep, you could train for it just like with your artwork.

Arts and crafts time! Here’s what you’ll need to construct your “Pessimism Voodoo Doll.”

–Cloth…two pieces cut into the same pattern (or you could just pick up a kit at a local crafts store). If you have or receive lots of negative thoughts and comments, make sure your patterns have lots of surface area. The actual pattern itself is up to you–square, skull, pyramid, teddy bear, Jigglypuff, or whatever shape makes you feel happy.
–Needle and thread
–regular paper
–a small notebook that’s easy to carry around with you

Now, sew those pieces of cloth together around the edges as if you’re turning it into a small pillow but make sure to leave an opening to add the stuffing. If you have a deadly allergy to needles, then you can take the easy route with construction paper and a stapler.

Next, get yourself a piece of paper and a comfy-grip writing implement of doom. Jot down as many negative and non-constructive comments you’ve heard (or even just thought) about yourself or your work. Fill that page up with every little negative thought that shows a glimmer of a chance of getting uppity one day and stopping your productivity in its tracks. Now, for the fun part. Take a good, long look at that sheet of paper, take a deep breath, and then tear it to shreds. Use this as your stuffing for your “doll.”

Ready for the next part? It gets a bit tricky here. Take that small notebook and write down three concise yet highly positive sentences about yourself. It could be a good quote from a review, a comment someone made about your appearance or personality, something you’re really good at, or any number of positive thoughts. As long as they instantly bring on feelings of happiness, pride, accomplishment, or hope, they’ll work. Take a deep breath, slowly release it, read those three sentences out loud, and then stab a pin into your “doll” to teach those nasty thoughts a lesson.

Keep your notebook handy, and every time you get a pessimistic thought or someone tells you something negative and non-constructive, put a mark in your notebook. Don’t write down the exact comment or action–just put a mark down, read one of your positive statements, and move on. When you get home, take a deep breath, slowly release it, read your three positive statements, and then stick another pin in the doll for each new mark in your notebook. And let all those negative thoughts go. Don’t give them a chance to hold you back from what you’re capable of.

When the path to your dreams is littered with criticisms, subjective likes and dislikes, frustrated people lashing out, and self-doubts, it can make it difficult to press on. Sometimes, it’s enough to make a person turn back and return to the easier life. The path to your dreams is definitely a tough one, so be sure to pack all the positive thinking you can carry with you…and lose all that unnecessary negative baggage.