Unorthodox Writing Tips 31 – Confidence

It’s easy to say that you’re not going to let things get to you. I like to think that when I’m sitting and writing that nothing else matters except for getting the words down on that page. I just need to keep plugging ahead and get them out. Eventually someone will read them. Even if they’re awful someone will read them.

Wait, what if I’m writing really badly. What if what I’m doing is so bad no one will ever read this garbage? Do my characters have realistic motivation? Am I describing this bologna sandwich the way I want the reader to see it? Have I put in too much description and back story about that old car that had three bald tires and needs an oil change like my kid needs braces?

I’m a writer. I understand. I’ve been there. I’ve written something that I thought was great, submitted it to the market I had intended it for and got a form letter rejecting it. Well what does THAT mean? Did they even look at it? Did anyone look at it? Then I do some re-writing and send it off to another market. They reject it telling me just where it all went wrong for them. Oh GOD! Now I feel worse. I wrote it, I tried to make it better and the story still doesn’t work. Now what am I supposed to do? Will anyone ever like anything I write?

The best answer I can give you? Probably.

There’s no guarantees when it comes to writing. That’s right, you may spend years writing and never get anything in print. That’s a risk you take when it comes to writing. You know when you’ll get published? Yeah, I don’t either. Why? It’s different for everyone. I had thought for sure by the time I was 40 I’d have a multi-book deal and I’d be writing everything from novels to comics to those little puzzles you see on the back of a cereal boxes. I was going to do it all and write everything I could possibly write and be able to support myself with my writing.

Guess what? Reality sucks. I’m going to be (Jay does some quick math in his head) 43 this year. I’m no closer to publication than I was in 2000. Yes, I’ve gotten a couple short stories published. It took me years to get that to happen. It’s a very long, slow process. It might be another ten years before I see my name on a book (that I didn’t publish on my own). I’ve had to accept that and deal with it. It’s the reality of the publishing world. It moves slowly now, it’ll move slowly next year, and it’ll move at the same slow speed 10 years from now.

It’s something that you need to look past. The only thing that matters right now at this very moment is are you putting words down. Are you writing? Are you banging away on the keyboard and typing words? It doesn’t matter what those words are. Writing is one think you can’t get worse at as you go. It’s a very long learning process and if you’re not spending time every single day you’re not going to get better. At best you’ll stagnate. But in order to get better at your craft and have a better chance of success is to get words out every single day without fail.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I’m writing daily. I’ve written over 200,000 words so far this year (as of this writing I’m at 213,560). I’m keeping track of my words and putting out more words than ever before. I’ve started blogging daily just to get something out. I might ramble from time to time. I most likely am being ignored by everyone who’s come by my blog. But the point is I’m typing daily and getting words out. If you want to be a writer that’s what you need to do. Write! No one is going to force you to do it and no one will be sad if you don’t. The only person who should be mad or sad is you. If you don’t write, you need to be mad at yourself. You should also be sad because if you’ve got a story to tell and you’re not, you’re letting a litttle part of yourself die.

The only person that can give you confidence to actually write is you. Give yourself the confidence to write. Give yourself permission to work through the tough times and get those bad words out of the way. Odds are most of what you write at the start will be awful, but get past them. Get something written. Read a lot and keep notes on what you like and what you don’t like. Try re-writing a paragraph (or a page) from a book you’re reading (because you’re reading every day, right?) Pick something up and copy a paragraph word for word. Then try to re-write it from memory. Do this a few times. Now put your own character into the paragraph. Change it around so it’s yours. Do little exercises like this to help you build up those writing chops.

You might say something like “Writing the same thing over and over is stupid”. Sure, it might feel stupid and a bothersome chore, but I know a lot of musicians that still sit done every day and do scales. If you’ve ever had a guitar in your hands, scales are tough. Writing is tough as well. You need to train yourself and work hard in order to get better, but in the end it’s up to you to do it for yourself to help build up the confidence you have in yourself to just sit and let the words fall out of your head and onto the page.

It all begins and ends with you. Begin today. What are you waiting for?

Until Next Time!


Posted on May 28, 2012, in Unorthodox Writing Tips and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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