Good day, writing friends.
It’s November, which means a lot of things for a lot of people. At the time of this post, the midterm elections will be in the books and we’ll hope things will start to turn around for this country. I hope you guys went to the polls. Also, Thanksgiving is a few weeks away, but let’s not kid ourselves. No one really celebrates Thanksgiving. We’re all looking forward to—or dreading—Christmas. (I’m betting the latter.) And for many writers, NaNoWriMo is in full swing. For those participating, know that I believe in you and I’m here to cheer you on.
But regardless of what you have going on this month, I hope you will take a little time to read my latest Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. Many thanks to this month’s co-hosts: Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Ann V. Friend, JQ Rose, and Elizabeth Seckman.
One thing I’ve learned in my writing journey is that everyone struggles with confidence. But as comforting as it is knowing I’m not alone, that lesson still hasn’t sunk in because I keep talking about it. Every month it seems, I converse with other writers on social media about this all-too familiar topic. I talk about how I “should” be further along in my writing journey.
I took a hiatus recently because my confidence was so low. I wasn’t doing anything with my writing. I started a Wattpad account, but wasn’t publishing anything. I had so many unfinished stories on my flash drive. At one point, I wanted to give up. Fortunately, some friends talked me off the ledge. I picked the pen back and got back to writing. I even published some earlier works on my Wattpad. Even so, the confidence was still lacking.
However, during the past couple of weeks, I had an epiphany. As I was trying to decide on what to write for this month’s post, something lit a fire in me. A spark of inspiration flickered. I made notes about the things that I believe attribute to my lack of confidence. For this list, there’s no numbered order, but I ordered them based on significance. It’s here on this platform that not only will I address these barriers, but take steps to shatter them.
Let’s get started.
Comparing myself to other writers. This is perhaps one of the worst things I do as a writer. Again, if you read my tweets and posts, you probably notice this trend. I go on and on about how I’m not as successful as others; about how I “should” be doing this or that because I have a degree in the field. But it only feeds into my depression.
There are words of wisdom writers often share with me. First, my path is totally different from someone else’s. My process will be different from another. I will not define success the same way as another. Second, I am not unique. Every writer struggles with confidence in different ways. I read confessions from other writers whenever I bring this subject up and I feel I belong. We’re all here to be each other’s cheerleader. So that’s what I will focus on when jealousy starts to fester.
Downplaying my accomplishments. This is right up there with comparing myself to others. There is a difference between being humble and putting yourself down when it comes to what you’ve done. While I chalk it up to not bragging, I’m really saying my accomplishments don’t deserve celebration.
But it took hard work to achieve what I’ve done. I need to be proud of the results. Use them to not only motivate myself, but inspire others to go after what they want.
Obsessing over seeking perfection. Writing is a trying and grueling process. No draft will ever be perfect. Every writer has said so. So why am I trying so hard to write one? I think it’s because I don’t want to put in the effort to make my stories better. My thought is that if I follow all the rules, then subsequent drafts won’t be necessary. But it’s this “need” to be perfect that leads to depression and a lot of WIPs unfinished.
A fellow writer shared how she spent years improving her writing skills. That should be my way of thinking. I need to write and be okay with imperfection. I’m not going to catch every mistake. That’s why I need other writers to help make my writing better. That’s why I need to write more drafts, but not obsess over it. Perfection cannot be my endgame. Actually, there can’t be an endgame. Regardless if my writing gets published or not, there is always something to learn and always something to improve upon.
Not allowing myself to be flexible with writing prompts. I’m a big fan of writing prompts. I think they’re good for whenever you’re stuck. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to writing prompts and I know some websites and fellow writers who offer writing prompts. But there is a problem. I tend to take things too literally. Recently, I asked anyone to send me a prompt. I received it, but instead of embracing the challenge it carried, I complained about how it was beyond my comprehension.
I’m someone who is very rigid and meticulous about following rules. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. But I have to remember the concept behind writing prompts is to look at them with every angle; to explore multiple interpretations. To become a better writer, I have to escape my own little bubble. I have to see the world in all its splendor.
Writing in other genres. Next to posts about how I’m not as good as others, I’ve posted about how I want to break into other genres. I want to challenge my creativity. But it is bad when I merely talk about it, but don’t. Worse, I write in a different genre, but am not satisfied with the results. Why? Because I’m hung up on the rules.
Like writing prompts, I feel each genre has a core set of rules. But here’s the thing about these rules writers tell me: they serve as more of guidelines that can be bent rather than stay ironclad. What you write is fair game. Every genre has variations. Some stories cross a number of genres, so every not every rule is going to apply. At the end of the day, I have to write what makes me happy. But I won’t know what does unless I go for it.
I write because I love weaving words together to create something wonderful. I can’t do that if I don’t believe in myself and my writing. The statements listed above, I believe, are barriers stifling my confidence. All of them are self-imposed, no doubt about that, but I know I have the support and tools to shatter them. I can’t say whether this topic will sprout up again in the future. Regardless, I will take this journey head-on, confident that I will be the best writer I can be.
How about you? What do you believe is holding you back from being confident? From being the best writer you can be? Let me know in the comments so that I can encourage you.
Until next time, keep writing and keep fighting!