Writing and Confidence and Failure

I am switching things around and Fridays are now going to be me discussing anything I want to discuss in my life.  It could be knitting, Wikipedia, work, writing, more reading, Cedric Doggery, Sabine the cat, or anything else.  Why?  I DO WHAT I WANT! That’s why.  Please to enjoy.

Once a month I meet with a group of local writers.  We are all people who have participated in NaNoWriMo.  We all want to continue writing and working to publish things after November ends.  We created Mill Pages magazine to help ourselves get published.  We are all pretty awesome people, but this is a support group rather than a review group.  We remain positive and helpful.   I love the NaNoLowell writers.  My typical level of mild irritation dissipates and I feel true levity when I am around them.  They are overwhelmingly excited about things we can do in the world.  One person I specifically find delightful is Hannah.  She joined us this last year after NaNoWriMo.  She often talks about her original reticence to join because she was afraid we wouldn’t like her or her writing.  This month she told us that she really wants to do so much more with her writing and she was feeling the confidence to do more because of us.

It got me thinking about writers, their confidence, and failure.  I obviously have a number of writer friends.  I have talked about many of them.  One thing I hear most often, especially from those who haven’t published yet, is the fear of sharing their work.  They are afraid they suck at writing, that nobody will like it, that it will be all hype.  I even hear this from published authors.  What if the next book doesn’t live up to the last book?  What if everyone realizes I am a fake?

Oh, impostor syndrome is alive and well with authors.

Even I find my confidence wavering when it comes to sharing what I write.  I can easily identify myself as a writer.  For me, a writer creates the story.  We put it on paper.  Becoming an author is something different.  Being an author means sharing what you have created.  It is easy to be a writer, but it is scary to be an author.  It took me 11 years to even think I could do it.  I am very nervous about what I share with people because it gives them insight into parts of my mind that are often very private.  The two books I am working on right now are romance and the emotional, sentimental, romantic side of myself is very hidden from people.  It’s not that I am ashamed of this part of me.  It’s that it exposing.

I am realizing, through trying to publish, there isn’t an expert and a novice.  It isn’t that black and white.  Impostor syndrome relies on that perception.  You have to remember that there are levels of expertise.  No, I don’t understand things completely, but I know more than someone else does. I am learning from my peers who are more experienced than I am, even if they don’t know everything.  SO!  Here is are five things I can share with writers nervous about transitioning from writer to author.

  1. Find other authors (or people who want to be one) to support you.  Your writing group doesn’t need to be reviewing what you write, but they should make you feel comfortable.  If there isn’t one, make your own.  Look on Facebook, Meet up, local coffee shops, NaNoWriMo, etc.  If you don’t like the one you found, find/make another.
  2. Don’t force yourself to publish until you feel ready.  It took me 11 years to even feel confident that what I had been writing was publishable (not good, publishable).  It took Hannah a few NaNoWriMo events to start talking to us.  Just keep writing until you feel ready.  You aren’t failing, you are getting better.
  3. Good is subjective, publishable is subjective, and you can publish anything thanks to the internet.  Not being able to get a publisher isn’t a value statement of your work.  They are thinking of their ability to make money off what you wrote.  You will have people who enjoy what you write… I mean, look at Twilight.  That’s a pile of crap, but people LOVE it.
  4. It’s OK to ignore editing suggestions.  Remember good=subjective and some people have bad taste.  You are awesome and have a story to tell.  Still, get edits.
  5. Further, don’t write like someone else.  Write like you.  This is your story.  It will be better, trust me.

What other advise would you give someone ready to become more than just a writer?  Share in the comments!



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