So we all know that the key to being a good writer is to write what you know. Right? I mean, that’s kind of our mantra. Write emotions you know. Write about places you know. Write about people you know.
Ha! Just kidding. Don’t write about people you know.
Or at the very least, change their name and make them “sound” fictional.
Anyway, I try to apply this to everything I write. Which is why I’m writing about confidence today. This is what I know. This is where I’m at. And I am hoping I can give you some advice just in case this is also where you’re at.
Confidence as a Writer.
Do you have it? Do you want it? Do you think I’m speaking a foreign language and you’re not quite sure what that word even means???
Because here’s the deal. When creative people create there is this propensity for insecurity. No matter what kind of creative profession you go into, when you let yourself be truly creative, you’re vulnerable.
And that makes us insecure. It makes us question and rethink everything we’re doing.
As writers we compare our work to handing over pieces of our soul. I’ve heard this so often because it is so true. That’s what it feels like. Writing a book is like exposing yourself to the entire world. You’re naked, raw and completely laid bare. You can hide any part of yourself you wish to in real life, but somehow all those secret places and thoughts make it to the penned page with blaring brightness.
And it’s horrifying debilitating traumatizing scary.
It doesn’t mean we don’t publish. We’re all narcissistic enough to believe we have something to say and that everyone needs to hear it. (That’s a whole different blog post! Ha!) That’s just another common trait of a creative person. But it’s the balance between those emotional extremes that brings the struggle.
I’m in the end of writing my thirteenth full-length novel. I’ve written twenty-eight novellas. Two co-authored books. And countless blog posts.
I have done this a time or two before. Obviously. And yet, I’m in the end of this novel and there is so much work left to do and it’s supposed to be out at the end of this month and I’m panicking.
Is it good enough? Does it say what it’s supposed to say? Are the characters obnoxious? Is the story line contrived? Is the love epic enough to draw readers in? And the action enough to keep their interest? Is it worth their time?
Is it worth my time?
Did I just write complete and utter crap? The worst kind of crap that this world has ever seen?
Should I burn this book?
Should I just give up and go find a different job?
One that doesn’t make me feel like this? Every single day?
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. But maybe not. Definitely on some days, this is exactly how I feel.
I am plagued with this feeling of inadequacy and impending failure. And I’m not sure that it will ever go away! I’ve written enough books that I would think by now I’d have it figured out.
I don’t. And I’ve come to the conclusion that insecurity will probably always be with me.
But I’ve also decided that I’m okay with that. As long as I don’t let it become incapacitating. As long as I push through my fears and still do what I was put on this earth to do, which is to create.
Insecurity can even be a good thing. It makes me question myself. It makes me push myself in agonizing but incredible ways. With each word I write, I want to be better. It makes me look at what I’ve written carefully and with a sharp eye. And it makes me pay attention.
But it can’t be the only thing. It has to be balanced with a healthy dose of confidence. Because without confidence, insecurity becomes consuming.
Insecurity becomes fear. And writing out of fear destroys creativity and annihilates original thought.
So how do you get confidence? How can I look at my current manuscript and push beyond all my fears and weaknesses and finish it. And after that, publish it?
You have to use your insecurity as a tool but don’t let it control you. Be confident in your unique voice. You have the ability to tell a story in a way that no one else can. And that’s empowering!
Nobody else has your experience and your emotions. What you have inside of you, the talent you use to put words to paper, is a unique gift to you and you alone.
And when you finish that novel, if you’re unhappy with it or don’t think it’s good enough, you also have the power to make it good enough. That’s what the entire editing process is about.
The last thing I would say to you is to be forgiving with yourself. Be gracious. Give yourself room to mess up and make mistakes. And give yourself room to grow.
Writing is a journey. One that never ends. Take each step with care and confidence and you’ll do just fine.
It’s okay to be a little bit insecure, that seems to be inevitable. But don’t let that insecurity hold you back. Write confidently. Edit confidently. And publish confidently.
And then your insecurity becomes less like a noose around your neck and more like a useful tool to develop your talent and further your career.
She was born and raised in Nebraska, but spent her college years traveling the world. She fell in love with Eastern Europe, Paris, Indian Food and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka. But came back home to marry her high school sweetheart and now spends her days raising their four amazing kids. In the few spare moments she has to herself, she is either reading other people’s stories or writing her own.
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