Confidence, it’s not something you’ll see talked about much in the writing world. It’s mostly the opposite. You’ll find posts about self-doubt, rejection, and writer’s block—issues we’ve talked about here, here, and here. But confidence is a very real remedy to many of these problems, and it’s not addressed often enough.
Well, sometimes writers have over-confidence issues. There’s a good reason a healthy dose of humility goes a long way in this industry. We must learn from more experienced authors. We MUST take criticism. We MUST grow and change.
But at the same time, for writer’s who struggle with the opposite end of this spectrum, lack of confidence can be an issue that stunts their writing growth. They may take to heart every criticism, every piece of advice, and ultimately become lost in putting it all in place. See, in the writing craft world, there’s a healthy balance. One conference speaker put it this way:
1. Take to heart the issues that arise more than once. If two people notice a problem, it’s a real issue.
2. Understand the difference between an opinion based on fact and just someone’s opinion. Why is the person giving you this criticism? Is it based on foundational writing principles?
3. Know when to maintain the integrity of your story. If a criticism inherently changes the fabric of your novel, it may be (notice I said “may be”) that they just don’t grasp the story as a whole.
4. Realize where the criticism is coming from. Is this a reputable source? If it’s an agent, editor, or established author, you bet it’s reputable. Give the issue serious consideration.
That’s a tough balance, yet it’s one every writer must find in order to succeed. While overconfidence can and does become a huge issue for many writers, lack of confidence can result in many problems as well. Over the next few weeks, we’ll take the time to review reasons why we can have confidence in our work, not the sort of false confidence or airs flaunted by many an author’s pride, but rather the reasons that validate your journey.
You can carry confidence in this profession. You can know whether you’re traveling a path toward success or failure. It’s not a false narrative. It’s one that frees you to write with an understanding of the expectations set ahead and a chance at victory nearing the finish.