The WRite Life: How to build the confidence to write.
Having the confidence to sit yourself down in a chair and write sometimes feels too big.
After almost 25 years of writing, sitting at my desk and writing pages and pages, I often have to dialogue with myself. So many questions arise: Am I good enough? Should I be doing something more worthy? What if I never make money? What if no one ever wants to read my work?
These voices in my head can be deafening. They often take much of my energy. If I let them, they will drain me and keep me scrolling social media or talking on the phone. Sometimes I rationalize about the never-ending laundry, and my need to organize my bills. Did I mention I need to clean out my closet, and go for a walk? I haven’t had a glass of wine with my friend, Mel in three weeks.
This mind chatter is all because before I even begin to write I let myself believe that I am not good enough, that what I have to say doesn’t matter. I am not this writer or that one. I am not anyone.
Confidence is a tricky thing. I am sure there are people out there who have written books and are experts on the subject. So, you see, I am already negating what I have to say. But week after week, I do manage to get work finished, sometimes a lot of work.
The facts are this:
I have written Out of the Shadows that won a gold medal for Best Fiction of the Pacific West.
I have written and published Saved, A Long Short Story.
I have written many short stories and nonfiction articles that have been published.
My manuscript, SELF PORTRAIT is ready to roll. By summer I will have finished my memoir.
I have helped many writers and students start, and finish their essays, stories, and books.
This is just a handful of my accomplishments. And still, I sometimes struggle with confidence.
Influencer Mel Robbins says, “Confidence is a skill. You can acquire confidence. Confidence is the willingness to try.” She says this with such passion and humility. I do listen to her. She has written five books, after a career as a lawyer. She now inspires thousands of men and women.
Here are a few things I do to help myself.
1. When someone compliments me, I HEAR the compliment. I let their words sink in. As a woman and an artist, it is very easy to dismiss compliments, and negate them for fear of being arrogant, for desiring to be the ‘good’ girl. This does you nor anyone any good.
Hear the compliment. Do right by the words.
2. Read great literature. For me, this is a must. Reading inspires me. I became a writer because of reading. This connection between people. This praise of the beauty in this world moves me to my depths. Some of you may think, but if a read great works it is frustrating because I know I can’t ever write like that. No, you can’t write like someone else. You can only write like yourself. Let their work, their art flow through you and touch you.
3. Praise yourself for the work you have accomplished. Sometimes it is a good idea to read what you wrote the day before, even if it needs to be revised, praise yourself for “giving it a go.” Look at the pages you have written. Each sentence adds to a paragraph, each paragraph to a page. You got this.
4. But mostly this is what I do: I sit myself down and write. I try not to overthink. After all these years this is what I know I am supposed to do. The desire to write books is deep in me—I need to honor that and write. Write and write and write. Let the confidence grow from the work.
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