I went to a book launch yesterday. A dozen or so of the anthology’s contributors – myself included – were there. Many had signed up to read a poem or a story excerpt. Almost without exception, the writers started their reading with a mention of how much they’d like to rewrite or edit their work.
Boy, could I relate. In fact, I chose not to even read, because I wasn’t happy enough with the work – a fiction short story and a poem – I’d gotten published. With each person who stood behind that podium, I grew more and more frustrated with us as a whole.
I regret not reading for the group. I feel frustrated with all the self-deprecation. One writer among us, a women in her 50s or 60s, stood up confidently, talked about all her writing success, pitched her latest book just off the presses, and proceeded to read with strength and confidence. My first reaction was: Geez, she’s a bit cocky isn’t she? Then I realized, she was the only one among us who was acting like she should have been. With confidence. With belief in her talents and work. She wasn’t the one at fault, the rest of us were. The rest of my own writing group was quietly confident. No self-deprecation, but I hear it enough from all of us at our Wednesday night writing group meetings that I know what’s inside. And I suppose it’s inside all of us, to an extent. The insecurity and self-doubt. I’d like to kick them both to the curb.
How many times have you read a blog post or article and kicked yourself because you had been thinking the exact same thing but didn’t write about it? Many times, we feel we’re the only one with a certain thought or take on something. So we don’t speak up for fear of being wrong. For fear of being laughed at or dismissed.
The part of me that is never done revising is calmed knowing that I’m not alone. But, I think this is the difference between the wishers and the do’ers: The do’ers believe.
If you’re like me, you follow your industry “thought leaders” on social platforms. Right? How do you think those folks became thought leaders? Look at the very definition of that term: a forward thinker, someone who speaks up when they feel strongly or have an opinion. They shape our thinking because of what they say, and they say it in such a way to make us think, to show us their take on a situation. There is simply no reason you can’t do the same thing. What it takes is a dose of confidence. A little chutzpah, you might say.
Want to up your confidence quotient? Try these three:
1. Take stock of your accomplishments. Go ahead, make a list. Everything you’ve done this week, this month, this year. Compare that to where you were a year ago… five years ago. I’m betting you’ve got a nice, long list to be proud of. It may not seem like much to you, but again, you’re hardest on yourself. Case in point: At this book launch, the majority of the writers who’d been published in this particular anthology had only been published a few times, if at all. While this book represented my very first fiction short story and my first poem to be published, my list of published credits is long and includes both regional and national magazines as well as other anthologies.
2. Look at things from a different perspective. Just last week, I received a rejection letter from the New York Times on a piece I’d submitted. The New York Times! I was disappointed, yes, but then my wiser-than-his-fourteen-years son said to me, “Mom, that’s okay…
Wiser words, I tell ya. That boy knows of what he speaks. So, yeah, maybe you think receiving a rejection letter is no accomplishment. But this one was from the New York Times… That means I sent something to the New York Times! I’d given it the biggest shot I could think of, and that is worth celebrating. Now to send that piece of to a few other publications – it’s the perfect article for XYZ publication, I’m certain.
3. Keep your mouth shut. Okay, so you get something published (or whatever is the equivilant in your industry) and as soon as you see it in print, you find three grammatical errors and two paragraphs that need editing. Hell, you’d love to sit down and rewrite the whole damn thing! Realize this:
And chances are very good that no one is going to even notice the “mistakes” that you do. So sell your work, your art, your passion with confidence. Don’t introduce us to it by telling us what’s wrong with it. And don’t worry about what you could have done differently… it’s not worth your energy. Besides, you can always apply what you’ve learned to the next project.
Now take your new-found confidence and put it to work! Finish what you started, set up some new business meetings, make that call. The only thing stopping you, is you.
If starting a company blog, putting together an eBook, getting serious about social media or creating an integrated marketing campaign are on your list, I’d love to hear about it. Let’s get together and create something fantastic!