I have a very bad habit. I often come across as insecure when I am striving to be humble.
When I was young, I was one of those straight-A students; but I was also a nerd and had a tough time relating to others. My defense mechanism was to play on my strength: being smart. Many years after high school, it finally dawned on me that this defense mechanism caused me to act quite snooty, which is one reason my relations never improved.
Once I realized that, I ensured that I never came across as arrogant or conceited. Unfortunately, the opposite happened: I appeared indecisive, unhappy, and insecure. Worse yet, when you label yourself in your head for too long, you develop the tendency to believe it.
I have not yet achieved any high position of status in my programming career, such as Director or Team Lead. I have, however, paid attention to my growth in business and not just in technical skills. One of the first things I learned was to adopt a decisive, firm handshake, and look others directly in the eyes when speaking. As my skillset developed, I became comfortable saying, “I’m good at that,” because I knew I could support it.
Here’s where I want to jump back to writing. If you have peeked at my other posts, you will see that I am a first-time writer. Just like when I started programming, I am not yet able to gauge my skillset in writing. I have no frame of reference, no one to compare to, no relevant experience. Therefore, I find that I’ve started back down the slippery slope of self-doubt.
This feeling is enforced when I find blogs attempting to be helpful by encouraging new writers to lose their unrealistic expectations. They cite statistics of books sold, percentages of new authors that don’t get published, and horror stories of finding agents. They list pages upon pages of things you have to learn and do before you even start. Nearly every turn brings me to believe that getting published is a near insurmountable hurdle.
I have also joined a forum, as well, and there is confusion, bitterness, and depression running rampant. Quite understandably, the whole process is extremely frustrating and disheartening for those who have worked so hard and still haven’t gotten their current work published.
Our attitudes are interfering with our ability to write.
In response to this, and to overcome my own self-doubt, I would like to ask my fellow writers to join me in an experiment of my creation:
- You’re the exception; the diamond; the one-in-a-million
Think back to the time when you first had your idea and thought it was the next advancement in the field of writing. Back when you had the best plot, the most engaging characters, and could grip readers from start to finish.
Now – write.
Write your bestseller until it’s done.
- Come back down to reality
When it’s time to edit, rein your ego back in. This may not be until the end of the book, or it may come periodically when you pause to edit your last few chapters.
Do not lose hope, and do not disrespect yourself or your skills, but open your mind to the task of making your story the best it can be. Remember, it’s all about getting the book read, so you need to revise it to appeal to readers.
Take the extra time needed to learn basic writing skills, yet be careful of assuming that you must follow every piece of advice to the letter.
- Accept criticism good-naturedly, yet wisely
Carefully choose from whom you receive your criticism. At this stage, the focus should not be on making you feel good, but on making improvements necessary for publication.
Your critiques should come from trusted sources with as much relevant experience as possible. At the least, they should be quite familiar with works in your genre and length, and have a few successful publications. Even better is if you can find someone familiar with publishers, editors, and agents.
Be sure to research any potential editors that will charge for their services, and do not send them your work until you have polished it (for best return on investment).
I would love to hear what you think of this idea.
Best of success,
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