Now that we are into the meat of your novel or script, let’s talk about one of the most important traits needed to compose. This attribute is usually lacking with new writers and even with the most successful of scribes. Confidence. This is the little voice in our head that is cheerleader, parent and lover if self-assurance is high; abuser, insulter and just plain pain in the ass when conviction is muted.
Writing is difficult to gage mastery of because there is no finish line. Surgeons successfully sew the patient up, bakers present a perfect cake and even whores provide a happy ending. Writing is not like that.
The worse drivel I have ever read (Shades of Grey) was penned all thumbs style on a Blackberry, edited by her husband and was an inferior example of the English language. Granted- the sex was neat and who doesn’t want a man to beg you to eat, run to you when you’re crying and have a billionaire dollars?
But the grammar was that of a sixth grader, the plot dripping with clichés and I was insulted reading every page. This was one of the best selling books to date. She made a mint, while never opening a Grammar book or Thesaurus.
While Jane Austin and James Joyce died paupers.
Success and money are not proof that work is respectable; sometimes it is luck or timing.
What all worthy creators have in common is they finish the work. Good, bad or stinky, they sit down every day and compose.
Authors must keep the voices in their heads quite if they are cutting at your confidence. At the same time, you must buoy them to keep your fingers tapping. It is the ultimate in self-parenting.
To continue writing and build your confidence, you must do the following:
1. Convince yourself every day that you are the best writer you can be. This is your new significance, stick to this principle. No one can tell you otherwise as there is no proof to the contrary (and don’t you dare say otherwise to yourself).
2. Continue to read, learn and practice the art of writing.
3. Never allow anyone else to enter your headspace and say anything but nice things. If someone does, go to the mirror and smile for 2 minutes at your wonderful face. They have proven that your brain will respond to this positive image and erase bad feelings.
4. Collect positivity (testimonials, good reviews, child’s paintings, love letters, anything that says You Rock) and review it frequently.
5. Do one thing every day that proves you are the best (even if it is just feeding your dog). Identify your successes no matter how small. Avoid perfectionism like a tribe of Jehovah Witnesses at your door.
6. In the morning right between sleep and wake, assure yourself that you are the best writer in the world. Tell little stories; practice your Academy Award Speech.
7. If the confidence wrecking voice creeps into your thoughts, ignore it. It is like calories or ghosts, if you ignore them, they will go away.
8. Write a thank you or praise letter to a fellow writer. It is the superlative gift you can give someone who spends all day alone tapping the keys. And like Pay It Forward- it builds your confidence.
9. Join writers groups so you have a place to bounce ideas and find like-minded people.
10. If all else fails, fake it and write anyway. Eventually, you will have a finished piece of work. Them you can be proud to shred it or go on from there.
I want you to write 100 things that you are good at, a Ta-Da List. I did this the first time in 1982 on an airplane on the back of a barf bag and I still have it. The first 20 are easy, and then it gets hard, almost impossible. Don’t stop, be silly and keep going until you have 100 things. Keep this list with you, tape it on your writing wall space and refer back to it often. Send me yours and I will send you mine. I do this every few years, because I master new things and want to remind myself of this achievement.