I was asked recently what the most important thing was for writers. There is a lot that is important. Grammar is important. Storytelling is important. Connections are important. Reviews are important.
But the most important thing of all is self-confidence.
Skills can be taught. Talent can be nurtured. But you have to believe that your dreams are worth pursuing. You have to sit and take stock of every lie that has ever been told to you about who you are and what you want and do something with it. No one can do this for you. You can outsource web design, developmental editing, proofreading and tweeting, but you can’t outsource self-confidence. You can’t do anything until you take this first step.
What are your fears about starting?
Is it because you think that you aren’t good enough? You may not be, but skills can be learned. Do you think that you don’t have original ideas? You may not, but you can learn to find them and get better at discovering them. Do you think that people will laugh at you? Maybe they will, but often it is the very people who laugh who lack the courage to step out to their dreams. They laugh because they really are jealous. They laugh because they can’t handle your courage. They laugh because they think they can control you with it. Show them they can’t and do it anyway.
Are you afraid that you will fail? What is failure? Is failure not being published? There are thousands, if not millions of writers who are unpublished. The opportunity of not being published gives you the time to hone your craft. It is a gift. Don’t waste it.
Is failure making mistakes? Failure should never be equated with imperfections. I had a manuscript returned to me — one that I could have SWORN was in excellent condition — with 1200 mistakes found by my proofreader. To my credit, the book was over 130,000 words, but still. What did I do? I fixed them. One at a time. I swallowed my pride and decided that that huge number would be an encouragement to someone. Instead, failure should be limited to those who quit trying altogether.
Is failure not making money? It’s safe to suggest that writing will not make you a lot of money. If this your biggest fear, then you shouldn’t be a writer. You can’t bank on the future anyway, right? I’m not making any money at all writing, but I know that someday I will. I can’t get to my someday unless I’m willing to work today, possibly for free.
I’d like to suggest that failure, the very worst failure you can have, is not trying because you are afraid.
This is the most important thing.
That you find in yourself a way to go and try. That you look at yourself in the mirror and believe that you are worth pursuing your dreams. That the lies that you have been told have no more power on you. That you will not waste one more day believing them.