Agent Janet Reid recently linked to an article about confidence by Toni Causey. This article really hit home for me. I suggest you read it, but the gist is that confidence is a choice. Many writers feel that we won't have confidence until we have (insert appropriate goal--an agent, a publishing contract, a best seller, a second book, a series, etc.).
The hole in this plan is that there will always be something else we can tack on to that goal. "I have an agent, but what if my book doesn't sell." "I have a book published but what if everyone hates it." You see, we can always come up with something else to postpone confidence. Part of this is good--it drives us to continue to improve. However, it can also be detrimental.
If we lack confidence, it will show in our writing. Just like if you show up to a job interview and you don't believe in yourself. As a management recruiter, I saw this all the time. People would be so nervous and would start apologizing in the interview. "I don't have a degree, but..." "I know that company I worked for isn't top tier, but..." "I know this position is a little beyond what I've done, but..." It would drive me crazy. If you don't act like you could do the job, I'm not hiring you for it.
So if our writing says to the reader "I'm not sure if you're going to like this or if this story is worth reading", the person will shut the book and fire you. Now, I do want to say that overconfidence will show too. Nothing is more annoying than someone who talks about how awesome they are all the time. (Usually, these are the people who are decidedly un-awesome.) But a little confidence goes a long way.
I will say that I struggle with this all the time. I'm not confident by nature. My mother used to tell me all the time that if you walk into a room thinking you look good, other people will think you look good too. I'm not sure if that always works, but I see her point.
I went into my new crit group with that lack of confidence. When they selected me to join in the first place, I was surprised. Like, really, me? You liked my writing? Then I started reading their chapters and was like, darn they're good. They are going to tear me apart!
To my relief, I started getting feedback from them on how much they are enjoying my story (along with valid criticism, of course). I was shocked and so excited. But then after reading that article I realized, I shouldn't only feel good about my writing when I receive outside validation. I need to choose to feel good about it. I work hard at what I do. I try to improve my writing skill every day. And for that, I have the right to be proud.
So don't apologize in your query letters for not being published, don't send your chapters to your beta readers with disclaimers on how you "know this isn't great, but", and pat yourself on the back when you write a scene you're proud of. It's okay.
So how do you feel about your own writing? Do you have confidence or are you constantly apologizing? How do you push through a crisis of confidence?
**Today's Theme Song**
"Self-Esteem"-- The Offspring
(player in sidebar, take a listen)