October 24

Writing is a confidence battle


    Wouldn't writing be almost be easier if it were just a matter of learning the grammar rules and the best way to phrase a sentence? You could take a class, check off the list of skills you need, and – tada – you're a writer. The writer's deepest struggle, though, is not one of grammar and spelling.

    Writing is a confidence battle. The process of becoming a writer exists mostly in your own head. The more convinced you are that you have something to share (a story, a study, an argument) with an audience, the closer you are to becoming a real writer.

    In the midst of such an internal struggle, you cannot underestimate the importance of your support network, the people who believe in you.

    Surround yourself with positive support.

    Too often, people tell us that they think we would make great writers or that a story/article/book would be worthwhile, and we just brush them off. We shrug and think, “They’re just saying that. They don’t really know.”

    I would invite you to believe that those supportive people just might be right, and they just might be the lifeline you need to boost your confidence game and take your writing to the next level.

    Take 5 minutes, and list out the names of anyone who has ever said anything positive about your writing or the message you have to share.

    Try to think back on the conversations you’ve had with those people. Allow yourself to believe that the supportive things they said were true and heartfelt.

    Let their encouragement seep into you.

    Sometimes it only takes one supportive person.

    As a college teacher first and now a writing coach, I have seen first-hand how affirmation from even one person can change a writer’s direction, spurring her on to find her true voice and create astonishing impact through the written word.

    I was reading a fluff fiction book (we're all allowed our literary vices, right?), and I started with the dedication page, which looked unusually long. As I read, I was floored by her story of how one person impacted her career as an author.  This excerpt is from Ridiculous! By D.L. Carter:

    Although she is no longer with us, I would like to thank Mrs. Fuller, my high school English teacher. Believe it or not, I have a variety of learning disabilities which makes it difficult for me to spell words correctly or consistently. This issue got me placed, briefly, in the Special Learning track at school. It was Mrs. Fuller who noticed that I was carrying Lord of the Rings around with me on day and asked why I was carrying a book for someone else. Obviously someone as disabled as me could not possibly be reading herself. Ha! When I demonstrated I was able to READ even if I couldn’t write she had me bounced back to the regular classes. Even though the rules of English Lit. Required her to mark me down for each and every grammatical error and spelling mistake she would write, in some amazement I remember, how impressed she was with the breadth and comprehensive nature of my imagination. Many years later I still remember her telling me to put the story down on paper somehow. The publishers will hire someone to fix the little things. It was the story that counted. So, Hi to Mrs. Fuller and all her ilk. Thank you from a C+ student.

    Ridiculous! was a 2013 Golden Quill Finalist.

    Can you imagine the confidence battles that D.L. Would have had within her own mind, to convince herself that she could, in fact, be a writer, despite learning disabilities and poor grades in English classes? Her teacher was exactly right – it's the story that counts. Editors and proofreaders can tidy everything else up, but only the author can provide the story.

    D.L.'s journey shows us the power of even one supportive person, as well as the power of an author allowing herself to listen to, believe in, and accept the encouragement of even one supportive person.

    This is also a challenge for you to support other writers.

    You never know who will benefit from your kind words. Why is it so easy to critique and so hard to encourage? The next time you’re thinking something positive about another writer (whether that writer is still a child or in the late years of retirement), take a deep breath and allow yourself to be that well of encouragement for another writer.

    We all need a boost when we're in the middle of our internal confidence battles.


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