Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Deliberately building self-confidence

I've written before about the split personality of a writer. We have to be simultaneously the most confident and the most humble people we know. It's a tough balance to strike, at some places on the road to publication more than others.

I realized I haven't felt self-confident about a single thing I've written since I've started querying THE TRAVELERS. Even my favorite favorite most beloved ever scene from ONE (the WiP)) - I look at it and think, "Eh, this is cliched." or "Urgh, what was I thinking with that WORD CHOICE GOD I AM THE STUPIDEST WRITER EVER."

You know. That kind of thing.

See, it's easy to get down. We can read posts by published authors telling us that no matter how ready we think we are to submit and publish - WE'RE NOT (awesome, thanks. SUPER helpful - ) and we can read twitter feeds of agents making fun of queriers all the live long day.
If you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything outside of the entertainment industry.
Um...does that include publishing? We're screwed, aren't we?

 Even if we delete our rejections like we're supposed to (I do! I swear! All, like, ten bajillion of them.) it's hard not to keep at least a rough tally living in your head. Soon, we can spot a rejection email in less than two seconds. Literally. (The tip-off: It has the word "subjective" in it.)

You'd think by now I might've turned around...YOU'D BE WRONG.
The thing is - the aspiring agented/published may come to believe these things so deeply - that we're never good enough to query, that first novels don't publish, that regular people can't be writers - that trying to build self confidence- yes, on purpose - might seem silly, indulgent, pointless.

That's what I thought, too.

But then, in a random email kvetch to my writing buddy Peggy, she told me to do something completely ridiculous - go back and read THE TRAVELERS. Fall in love with it again.

Now, Peggy one of the most humble writers I know. If she's telling me to purposefully hype myself up on my own writing, I sit up and listen.

I recently decided to do a last-ditch query flurry for THE TRAVELERS. My incredible, generous, genius CPs spent days reworking my query with me, and eventually everyone gave it a thumbs up. There was just one problem - I couldn't put together the emails. Couldn't click send. I realized after a few days that it was a problem of me losing faith in TT, even before I had officially given up on it.  It was then that I decided I owed it to TT to gather every strategy that I know of for building self confidence into one great big basket and throw every one straight at the query process.

Here are some things that help me build self-confidence and/or rekindle my love for my work:

  • Listen to the soundtrack
  • Read your book again. Especially the steamy scenes.
  • Talk to the CPs that you know will give you hugs, love, and support.
  • Before you whine to them any more, find a drill-sergeant CP who will force you to query through threats and shame.
  • death threat
  • Remember what you're awesome at (Peggy's post about that here and mine here)
  • Send out one of Those Scenes just for the fun of it. You know which kinds I'm talking about. Your CPs will squeal because of what happens in the Scene, but you'll feel like they're in love with your writing.
  • Seek out inspiration. My favorites herehere and here. (You might cry.)

Your turn! Do you deliberately build self-confidence to gear up for some part of the writing process? How?


  1. What a fantastic post. I can really relate to a lot of what you're saying.

    Having a great crit group is essential to improving your work. Best of luck as you keep going!

  2. I totally, completely, 100% understand how you feel. I've received more than my share of rejections; I've thought about giving up; I've taken some time away from a project, gone back to it and thought, "Hey, this isn't half bad!" I think more than any pep-talk (from myself or a family member or a blog reader or whomever), the thing that makes me peel myself off the floor and keep going is the fact that I love writing, that I can't seem to stop no matter how miserable this process makes me sometimes, and that there's nothing else I want to do with my life (professionally speaking, anyway). Maybe if it was that easy to walk away from, it wouldn't be worth all the blood, sweat, and tears. I think getting published is some combination of luck, passion, and persistence (and for some of us, it may mean more persistence than luck). But we'll get there! *mini pep-talk over*

  3. I only threaten you... because I expect great things from you. XO

  4. This was a wonderful post and very timely. I had a moment of self doubt yesterday and felt like a complete failure. But a writer buddy set me straight.

    And I agree having great writing friends helps your writing and sanity.

    By the way, I listened to the second link with Ira. That was too funny and true. Oh, I ready your WIP it sounds really, really good. All the best and keep writing. Your friend Jean is a keeper.

  5. I definitely know how you feel. I think that during editing, it's especially easy to feel like you suck because you're looking at your writing so closely--but you DON'T SUCK! I am so excited to read ONE!

    (And that tweet from Jean is great)

  6. You already know I think you're about as far from sucking as you can possibly get. And for me to say that about anyone is huge, since I'm not a people person.

    And that scene you sent me yesterday? OMG, if this ONE is not THE ONE, I am going to fall over dead. It will be!!

  7. You SHOULD be hyped up on your own writing! Why? Because you totally rock, and so does your writing. Okay, don't get all technical on me and say that I haven't read TT, I JUST KNOW. Trust me.

  8. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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