Can you become a confident writer? Of course you can. Anyone can. Here’s what confidence boils down to: knowing what to do, and doing it. That’s all.
You know this already.
However, you (and I, and everyone) tend to pay too much attention to our thoughts. This is natural. Our brain’s job is to keep us alive, so it’s always scanning our environment for threats. It should – if you’re crossing the road, or driving your car, this is essential.
Unfortunately, our thoughts lead to self-doubt, and inappropriate fear.
Self-doubt isn’t essential, it’s a menace, because it can keep you firmly locked in place, too fearful to write. Susan Jeffers’ wonderful book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, can help:
In short, the book taught me that whether it’s public speaking, telling a friend how you feel or leaving the job you hate, you have to do the thing you are terrified of. Now! And then never look back.
Jeffers, a psychologist and mother of two from Pennsylvania, explains that the root of all our fears is basic: we fear we won’t be able to handle the situation if the worst happens. To which she has the simple reply: ‘You’ll handle it!’
You should be able to find this book at your local library.
Your thoughts are WRONG
I wish I could wave a magic wand and help you to remove fear from your life. I can’t. As Ms Jeffers’ points out in her book’s truths:
TRUTH ONE: The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.
I’ve often told the story of what happened when I decided that I would get a novel published within ten years. I sat at my IBM Selectric typewriter every day, and wept before I started writing. I was terrified. I cried. Every day. Every single blessed day for months.
My hands shook as I rolled sheets of paper and carbon paper into the typewriter. Looking back, I’m amazed at myself. However, I knew there was no alternative. If I wanted to write, I had to accept the fear.
Thankfully, no one stays terrified forever. If you keep doing what you fear, your fears will dissipate, and your confidence will grow.
The more important something is to you, the more terrified you will be, and the more your thoughts of disaster will plague you. Accept the truth that your fears exist, and that they’re natural, because you’re growing.
If you’re NOT scared, you’re not growing.
Although our fear triggers an avalanche of thoughts, all those thoughts are wrong. Ignore them. Persist, despite your fears. Over time, as you keep moving forward, and do whatever it is you’re afraid of, your confidence will grow.
Know what to do: set goals
Set goals. Create plans. Write. If you keep doing that, you will achieve your goals, because you’re persistent.
Confidence is your secret weapon, however that confidence is bought at the price of your fears.
Be kind to yourself
When you’re fearful, you’re growing. If you have children, you know how to encourage them. Encourage yourself in the same way. Be kind to yourself, as kind as you’d be to a child.
Your confidence stems from the knowledge that whatever happens, you will handle it. You know that you can feel the fear, and come out the other side. Eventually, you’ll know that if you’re not scared, you’re not growing.
Want to grow as a writer? This week’s offerings will help.