Emotions play a heavy role in the life of a writer. You write a piece — a story, a novella, an article, or opinion piece, whatever — and you pour your time and effort, sweat and blood, into each and every word. It can be an exhilarating journey. But of course, there are the negative emotions that accompany you on the road. Questions of doubt can impinge the writing process. There are so many great writers out there, and there are so many stories to read! What if yours gets lost in the slush? What if your book, if it manages to get published, finds itself in a dark corner, collecting dust? What if your words never leave your hands? These questions and more run rampant, often, in my own mind. So what can you do to keep your confidence from dripping dangerously low?
1. Find your Passion
What is it that you love to read? What do you enjoy writing about? Follow your passions. If you have a thing for fantastical worlds were anything is possible, than write fantasy. If you are fascinated by psychology, and the human mind, then follow those interests. If you are a dog person, introduce that aspect into your story. When you write what you love, your words will reflect your passion. It is much easier to both develop an idea, and breath life into your story, if you are actually enjoying the process. Although you will be writing for an audience, ultimately you should be writing for yourself.
2. Ask a friend
Criticism, especially when it is constructive and from a source who cares about you and your work, can do wonders for your confidence. However, you will want this person to be honest, for how can you grow if you are not made aware of your mistakes? Understand that no one’s first draft is perfect. There will be editing involved, and asking someone to read your work can help identify those spots that may not make much sense, or are a little too confusing. My reader is both critical and kind. He points out the best, while gently revealing the not so good. Having an outsider read your material, as hard as it may be to relinquish your work, expands the horizon of your influence, which feels great.
3. Make nice with rejection
The one crucial thing that I found myself struggling to accept was the dreaded – although now expected and prepared for — rejection letter. You are going to get one. Perhaps even two, or five, or ten, before you receive a yes. It can be heart breaking. The first year I seriously started to send my work out, my confidence took a major beating. After receiving successive rejections, I even took a break from writing; my confidence was that damaged. But a writer can never stay away from the pen (or pencil, or keyboard) for long. The only solution is to keep going. You will find someone who will give your work recognition. The struggle to attain an acceptance letter involves growth, and if you continue to write and submit your work, you will see improvement. And when that day finally comes, the day you receive a Yes in the email inbox, you will be jumping up and down and screaming merrily. (Or at least, that is still my reaction each and every time. Truly, it never gets old.)