Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Creating Confidence: Three Steps to Love Your Writing

When I was six years old, my teacher asked each person in my class what they wanted to be when they grew up. Some kids wanted to be doctors. Some wanted to be teachers. Other kids said they didn't know. I, however, knew exactly what I was going to be when I got older. So when the teacher called on me, I spoke with pride and not a single ounce of doubt in my voice. "I'm going to be a writer."
I wish I still had that same confidence and pride. Twelve years later and yes, I still love to write with everything that I am, but no--that childlike confidence is no longer there.
It may not seem like it, but confidence is an extremely important factor when it comes to writing. Whether it's a novel, an essay, a short story, or a poem, if you don't have confidence in yourself or your writing, odds are you'll hate every word you write.
Even after I finished my first draft of my first book, the idea of letting anyone read it absolutely terrified me. 
"It's not very good," I would say to people who asked about it. "Oh, it's just the first draft. The writing is terrible."
But this wasn't true. I have been told by many, many people in my eighteen years of life that I am a very gifted writer and I am very good at what I do, but I could never believe them. Why? Because I had no confidence.
For months I struggled with hating my book because I was so convinced that it was horrible and I was a terrible writer, which was emotionally troubling for me because all my life my biggest dream has been to see my book on a shelf at Barnes and Noble someday.


#1. I got over my fear. I forced myself to let others read my work no matter how much it terrified me, and it helped in unbelievable ways. I started first by letting three of my close friends read my entire manuscript. Then I printed off my first chapter and kept it in my writing notebook (which I had with me at all times) for anyone else who asked if they could read a sample. Over time, I began to love the story I had written.
#2. I put myself out there. After I felt a little more comfortable letting my friends and family read my work, I started putting excerpts and quotes online. My absolute favorite website ever is www.pinterest.com, and I use my account for crafting my story ideas through quotes and pictures. First, I would pick a quote from my writing that I liked, and then I would make it look all pretty using either an online editor or the photo editor on my computer, and then I'd upload it. Or, if I didn't feel like doing all that work, I'd simply find a picture on pinterest and put my quote in the description bar and credit the words as my own. The more I did this, the more feedback I received from my followers and the more confident in my work I became. Eventually (and after many requests) I began uploading excerpts of my stories onto www.wattpad.com, which also helped boost my confidence.
#3. I fixed what I didn't like. Instead of complaining about the things in my book that bothered me or needed to be changed, I actually went and changed them. Main character acting like an extremely annoying crybaby? Fixed that. Too much description in a scene? Fixed that, too. Anything I didn't like, no matter how big or small, I fixed. I sat down and I made my book something that I loved.

Every writer struggles with confidence at some point along their writing journey--some more than others. And while it's impossible to be confident in your work all the time, it's important to realize when your lack of confidence starts to hinder you. Sometimes, you're going to get criticized. Sometimes you're going to be rejected. And sometimes, your writing might actually just plain out suck (I know mine has!). But no matter how confident you may or may not be in your words, don't give up. Keep writing, keep striving, and most importantly, keep dreaming.

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Phil. 4:13

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