Confidence

Confidence

Confidence | Guy L. PaceWe usually express confidence outwardly. It shows in our body language, dress, attitude, and how we communicate with others.

Or, lack of confidence.

Or, in the example provided by the image here, questionable fashion sense?

Okay, I’m really not one for criticizing other’s fashion taste, though. My wardrobe consists of t-shirts with pockets and jeans. Hmmm … getting off track a little here.

At one panel at the Spokane Science Fiction and Fantasy convention (SpoCon) I listened to fellow authors talk about confidence. When it came down to honest confessions, most said the same thing. While we know our first drafts are awful, we tremble in fear that we will be found as frauds when we submit our work. That’s basically true across the board.

This is familiar territory for men. We spend most of our lives in desperate fear we’ll be found out, and worry we aren’t good enough, smart enough, talented enough, or <whatever> enough. We hold ourselves up to co-workers and find ourselves lacking, and we beat ourselves up regularly. In truth we’re capable, strong, smart, and talented. It is just to hard to admit.

Yellow Jacket

Take the guy in the image with the yellow, double-breasted jacket. He is either, based on the impression, supremely confident and courageous. Or a complete idiot. But, when you compare yourself to certain best-selling authors, they look like that guy in the yellow jacket and you might feel like me–a guy who shows up in jeans and a t-shirt. They act, speak, and lecture like they know everything and the world turns on them. But who are they really?

Is their first draft gold? Does it go to press unchanged, unsullied by an editor? Does that best-selling author struggle with self-confidence after that first draft, wondering if it rises above the 90 percent that is crap in Sturgeon’s law?

What you find out in conventions–especially small, intimate ones where best-selling authors are honest and forthcoming–they struggle with confidence just like the rest of us. They know their first draft is awful. They rewrite, revise, and self-edit before getting more professional help. Just like the rest of us.

One difference is they (those best-selling authors) have been at it longer and manage to find a public persona to present to the world. They get up in the morning, put on that yellow jacket, and lecture to students, meet the adoring public, or get interviewed by the media.

It’s when they take off that yellow jacket and sit down and share with folks at a con, you get to meet the real person and find out they aren’t really any different.

Keep writing.

 

 

Fear

Fear is part of our lives in many ways. Often, lately, the media tries to heighten the general level of fear in the population by how it reports certain events. But, that isn’t what this post is about.

We fear heights. We fear spiders. We fear needles. We fear fuzzy things. Some of us are afraid to leave a house. There is a book-full of words to describe all the specific fears. You’ve heard some of them. Agoraphobia. Arachnophobia. Acrophobia. And the list goes on.

Writers are often governed by fear, as well. We fear the impact of our words, our topic, our approach to a scene. We fear how others will react, judge, criticize. A psychoanalyst would probably tell us that these fears are the root cause of writer’s block. We get so crossed up around our fears and what we want to write that we become locked in place.

With all this fear floating around, how does anyone get any writing done?

You set it aside. The key is to get that first draft done. Just write it with abandon, full speed ahead. “Damn the torpedoes. Four bells, Captain Drayton.” Toss fear aside. Drop it down a deep, deep hole and cover it over. Whatever it takes to get you past the self-doubt, anxiety, trepidation. Gird your loins and join the battle.

Love that “gird your loins” line. But that is another story.

Some fears can be healthy. They help keep you from making stupid mistakes that risk your life and limb–like staying safely behind the rail on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Fear can also handicap you to the point of ineffectiveness–like when you can’t function because you’re afraid too many things. It can impact the scope, quality, and creativity in your writing.

The best way I’ve found to deal with fears is to identify them, figure out the source, and then put them away. Those fears you need, just put them aside so you can gather them back later. Those fears you don’t need, toss them down that deep pit and bury them. Similar to dealing with anger, it helps when you know why you feel things. Once you know why, you can set it aside and get back to work.

Keep writing.