When I first sat down to write the book that was to become DANGEROUS CURVES AHEAD I told myself that that was the book I was going to get published. Come hell or high water. I had been writing for five years at that point. I went from sucktastic to pretty good. I had written enough practice books to know my major flaws. And when I first set my fingers to the keys I wrote with wild abandon. I didn’t think about all the rules so many us think about. Am I showing, not tell? Will people get this joke? Will anybody like it? I just wrote. I threw it up so to speak. I wrote the hero I wanted to date. I wrote the heroine I wanted to be friends with. I wrote a story I wanted to read. And for the first time I wrote without the worry.
I look at some writers, and it doesn’t matter how long they have been at it, two weeks or twenty years, and I see fear. Will my critique group like this? Is this good enough to snag an agent? Will people understand me? And then they go back and rewrite and doubt and go back some more and get themselves stuck. Crippled almost. And they never finish the damn book. Or if they do finish it, part of it always plagues them. In the back of their minds they never think it’s good enough. They aren’t confident in their voice.
You always hear editors and agents talk about finding writers with a great voice. You know, that unique style that makes your writing stand out from all the other writers. Writing without confidence is like writing without voice. Think of your writing almost like you think about public speaking. Is anybody going to get your message if they can’t hear your voice?
Good public speakers, they know their audience, they never let their fear show, they are not afraid to inject who they are into what they are saying, they get to the point. And if they aren’t confident they fake it like they are. And when they’re finished they leave their audience wanting more.
Isn’t that a lot like writing?
Just like an audience listening to a speech, a reader can tell when when a writer has lost their voice.
We all have self-doubt. We all have those moments when we want to chuck our computers out of the window. We all have moments when we get stuck, when we think it would be easier just to quit. But confident writers don’t let a little case of the doubty blues get in the way of the stories they want to tell. A confident writer doesn’t lose the essence of who they are.
So how to become confident? That’s a good question. I think some people are born with it. For others it’s a process. But here’s my advice.
- Write what you know. Not what’s hot. I’ve seen so many authors jump on the New Adult trend because they heard it was selling. That rarely works out for anybody.
- Don’t let too many people read what you’re working on. It’s like my mother always says “Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and everybody thinks everybody else’s stinks.” I find too many opinions on my work confusing and annoying.
- Don’t let others opinions of your work affect how you feel about it. Constructive criticism is needed and often times it’s crucial, but nobody knows it all. If you think you wrote a good story then you probably wrote a good story. I personally hate them little whiny sparkly TWILIGHT kids. You think Stephanie Meyer cares? She would be dumb if she did.
- Write with conviction. When you write don’t go into wishing and hoping and praying that it’s going to sell. Write like you know it’s going to sell, like it’s the most kickass thing anybody has ever written. (Even if it’s not.) I believe that good things come to people who expect good things to come to them.
- Like what you write. If you hate the story you’re telling then it’s probably not the story you should tell. It’s okay to hop around until you find your voice. Because if you keep trying one day you’ll find it.
So, who else has advice to share on building confidence? Any and all comment are welcome.