I’m not in a very good place to write about confidence.
I’m in a place where my expectations of what could have been are paralyzing my current choices. But if I’m going to go any further in what I do as a writer, I need to get over myself and grow in confidence.
Today I have to return to the most important element in my writer’s toolbox: confidence.
I have lots of tools there that are important. Grammar is important. Storytelling is important. Connections are important. Reviews are important.
But the most important thing of all is self-confidence.
I have to believe, at least most of the time, that my dreams are worth pursuing. I have to diligently call out the lies that have been told to me (or that I say to myself) about what I really want. I must strengthen my own confidence. Unlike editing, proofreading and tweeting, I can’t outsource this. I have to find it in myself.
These are the Top 10 Things I can do to build up my confidence.
1. I can be vulnerable. Now this sounds counterintuitive. But I have to show the world my best and be willing to handle whatever reaction I get from it. The more I practice this, the easier it gets.
2. I can separate my mistakes from my identity. Instead of freaking out over my technical issues, I just need to learn from them. I will get better.
3. I can remember that art is subjective. What’s valued and praised by one person is rejected by another. This is what makes art art. This is why there’s a place for me.
4. I can ask for help. I need to be honest with myself about my weaknesses and get instruction. I can never be better if I’m not teachable.
5. I can knock on new doors. There have never been more opportunities for writers than there are right now (and there’s never a bigger competition for readers!) If I stretch myself to submit to new publications or opportunities, I just might have new rewards.
6. I can try new things. Writing is an art, just like painting or drawing. And I should take advantage of its flexibility to see what I can do with it. I may find a genre or a style I love.
7. I can stay focused. My art really is about pleasing myself first. If I’m having fun doing what I’m doing, it will show and others will be inspired.
8. I can stop comparing myself to others. My happiness and confidence levels will take a nosedive if I’m wondering what the writer next to me is doing. The more I focus on my work, the more I’ll grow in confidence.
9. I can choose happiness in this work. Writing is hard work, no doubt, but the more I remember why I am doing this, why I’m not doing something else or why I picked up my pen in the first place, the more my confidence will grow.
10. I can be involved. The more writer friends I have in my life, the more I can depend on them for encouragement and help. A strong community is also good for walking with me in the struggles and laughing at my jokes.
Writer in this current market are nothing short of poetic masochists: we constantly have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and try over and over again. We have to create our own confidence.
Without it we’ll never succeed.
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Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community.