For the last five weeks, I’ve been a participant in a writer’s workshop at a local library. I’ve taken these workshops before on different aspects of writing with the same instructor. These workshops always give me plenty to explore, and I get to meet other writers and hear what they’re working on and what their writing lives are like.
These last two workshops, I’ve been struck by what some of my fellow writers say before reading homework or exercises we do in class. Mind you, I have been apt to do this myself. Some pass on sharing their work or say things like, “This is awful,” “I don’t think I did this correctly,” or “This isn’t very good.”
It’s almost as though they feel the need to apologize in a way or prepare others for their writing before sharing it. I have held back several times, wishing to encourage them not to feel this way or not to keep comparing themselves to others in the class or to the instructor. That they are writers and have it in them, to trust their writer-ly instincts.
Oops, look who’s talking now! Me, who only this week did the very same thing by panicking that I’m not as far as I’d like to be or as far as those in my inner circle of writers. I then realized I’ve been comparing myself a lot lately to other writers, not feeling ‘good enough’ or ‘fast enough.”
I brought this up to some writers in an online group and one piece of advice that hit home most clearly was that maybe I’m using this as an excuse not to write. “Who me?” “Yes, You.” So I realized I must trust my own writer-ly instincts and discover ways to aid myself in feeling more confident and productive in my writing. Not just panic and accept that “I’m not as successful.”
When we say things like, “Well, this is a lost cause” before reading part of our writing, we’re really tapping into our belief that we aren’t good enough in comparison to the other writers. At least this is how it can be for me.
I’ve made a plan to help with my confidence as a writer, take action. I’m going to do the NaNoWriMo National Novel Writing Month)next month to delve myself into my novel-in-progress (almost 10 chapters) and get out of this mindset. In other words, dismissing the gray clouds over my writing as an excuse not to write! Tell me how you overcame your struggles with confidence as a writer.
Time to write …