The Confidence Game06:01
Hello again WEbook tribe. Thanks for all the great comments on my last post. I wanted to start with something universal—the necessity of reading—and it seemed like it struck a chord. This time I want to broach something equally universal to new (and veteran) writers—maintaining confidence. Next to publication, this might be one of the toughest things to master in the writing game.
As someone in the throes of trying to finish his first novel, I struggle with confidence daily. Am I good enough? Will I ever get a book deal? Am I fooling myself, wasting my time, are my friends and family just humoring me? It gets worse when I read various book reviews and see passages pulled from novels that seem far superior to anything I’m writing. Or maybe it’s the book I’m reading (lately I’m keen on torturing myself with first novels so I can compulsively compare them to my own). At some point, I inevitably decide that what I’m writing will never be as good as what I’m reading and I should just give up.
Here’s another one of my favorite games. I impulsively follow bestseller and “notable books” lists. Naturally my novel appears nothing like those that are commercial or critical favorites and the doubts creep in anew. Or worse, I start questioning my plot or POV or setting and contemplate making changes so it might have a better chance of catching an agent or editor’s eye or be more successful in the marketplace because it mimics something that’s flying off the shelves.
This inevitably leads to a certain amount of despondency (and TV watching, eating, cracking that third beer, etc.). Sound familiar?
The trick to overcoming this is simple. Actually, that’s a joke; there is no pill or vaccination against doubt. It’s something that you have to learn to deal with. Here’s what I do: I remind myself that no one can write the story I’m writing. No one had my exact childhood, my peculiar teen years, my oddball parents, my lovers, my jobs, etc. No one thinks precisely as I do. I also seek out and read accounts by other writers, agents and editors about how they kept faith in an idea or person and were rewarded in the end. Finally I realize that if I don’t write my story the way I want to write it, I’ll never forgive myself if it doesn’t get published. And I strongly believe that agents and editors can tell when you’ve written a book to please them or the market or anyone besides yourself.
So, the question this week is: how do you deal with doubt when it creeps into your writing world?
p.s. My apologies to those who direct messaged me last week. I was out of internet range while traveling and will get back to you ASAP.