I started Novelty Revisions because I am a writer. I understand writers’ biggest struggles and frustrations, and while I don’t always have all the answers, I vowed to do everything I could to help my growing audience make their way through this difficult, yet rewarding, experience.
The deeper I dive into exploring the reasons writers don’t make it – so I can help them figure out how to overcome these things as best I can – the more surprised I am at how many people in general don’t move forward in their writing careers/hobbies simply because of [insert excuse here].
We all make excuses every now and then. I’ve been putting off launching a few new projects this year because of some embarrassing excuses. Yet I’m aware of that, and I’m doing my best to give myself a few good kicks to get going.
One of the most common excuses I notice people giving for not getting their writing done is that they “aren’t confident enough.”
I get it. I do. But at the same time, I’m always tempted to respond: “Well, what are you going to do about it?”
(That can come off the wrong way, and I never want to be mean to a stranger. So I refrain.)
Technically, a lack of confidence is still a pretty lame excuse for not writing. But I can completely understand why this is a roadblock for so many writers. In the very early stages of my life as a writer, I unintentionally weighted most of my worth in how “good” my stories were. If no one liked them, I automatically assumed that meant they didn’t like me. Etcetera, etcetera.
It’s very easy to say, “Well, I just need more confidence.” This is why people beg and plead for feedback on their work. Here’s the thing … it’s not usually feedback on their writing they’re looking for, but validation that they’re not terrible at writing. Which is not what most people give out when offering constructive criticism (this, coming from an editor who LOVES giving feedback).
You know that cliche – fake it till you make it? It has some substance, at least in this case.
This isn’t just something you grow out of or overcome – you have to put actual effort into not letting it stop you from doing what you want to do. Resilience, discipline – it all builds up the harder you work at it. I learned how to write despite almost never feeling good about my art, and if you’re willing, so can you.
“But what if I’m really NOT a good writer?”
Are you going to let that stop you from writing anyway? Really? In college, I learned how to spin flags. I was terrible at it, still am, but it was fun, and I liked it a lot, and that canceled out the fact that I wasn’t willing to work hard enough to get “good.” You can “get good” at anything if you work at it hard and long enough, in most cases. The question is, are you willing to try?
Here’s a little secret … when people read your writing, they can’t tell you aren’t confident. Not most of them. It’s not like standing in the middle of a crowded room, where people can see your knees shaking and hear you stuttering and know right away you’re terrified out of your mind.
People might notice you’re holding back, or that some points of your plot seem weak. But unless it’s someone professionally trained to analyze these kinds of things, a random person probably isn’t going to look at your writing and go, “Wow, you’re not confident at all, are you?”
SO WHY DO WE KEEP GOING AROUND TALKING ABOUT HOW NOT-CONFIDENT WE ARE? FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE. SSSSHHHHUSH!
If you want to be the best writer you can be, you have to fake it. Seriously. Write like you’re the best writer who has ever written a thing, whether you are or you aren’t. I used to do it all the time. And do you know what happened? Every once in awhile, I actually ended up writing something pretty decent (wedged between things that really were pretty awful, though maybe not at the time, considering my age and experience). Because I wrote as if I knew I was good at it – and my work reflected that.
And guess what happens, the more you do that? You become more confident. And you get a little better at what you’re doing. And your confidence continues to grow.
Of course there are still going to be moments you doubt yourself. It happens to me all the time. You have to hold your head up high. You have to believe that you’re doing the best you can. Really. You have to say to yourself, over and over again, “Hey. I’m doing pretty well. Better than I was. Even if no one else seems to think so.”
You are your worst critic. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You also have to learn to be your biggest cheerleader. If you believe you can do something, chances are, you’re going to do it. Fake it until you start succeeding. It IS possible.
I know not feeling confident can feel like the worst thing in the world. TRUST ME, I’ve been there. Just keep writing. No matter what. Keep going. You will feel SO MUCH better about yourself when you do. You’ll be able to say, “Wow. I wasn’t sure I could write this story. But I did it anyway. Hey … I bet I could do that again – and better this time!”
Sounds pretty awesome, huh? So what are you waiting for? Get. Back. To. Writing. (:
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.