Being a Confident Writer Before the Contracts

Last month I posted about being a new writer and the challenges we face emotionally with the daunting task of completing a first novel staring us in the face. I wish I could say after we do that, it’s all smooth sailing from there on out, but the truth is, it’s only the beginning. Sometimes the only thing scarier than the impossible (I wrote a novel) is too many possibilities (now what?). Because the question that comes after you’ve accepted you’re a writer is, “What am I going to do about it?”

I remember the very distinct shift I felt when my first draft freedom disappeared and the reality of how little I knew about novel writing settled around me in it’s place. I felt suffocated by how much needed to be fixed and how much I had yet to learn. And the question of whether or not I really wanted to go down that road. I had every right and every reason to continue simply writing for myself and my closest friends, but like you, I knew that would never be enough for me. I had something to share with the world.

Despite my enthusiasm, my confidence was shot. I didn’t need someone to tell me I sucked (though, trust me, they did). Like Kristin Lamb said in her vlog, Writing 101, people had told me my whole life I had a talent for writing so I guess I thought it would just come naturally. Ahem. Not so much. It was painfully obvious I had no idea what it took to write a novel and I went through a long period of writer’s depression when nothing I wrote felt good enough. In my mind, I was a horrible writer.

So how do I feel today? Please, put your coffee down for this one. I can say, without a single hesitation, that I am an amazing writer. Yep, I still get that swelling feeling in my chest every time I say it. And I’m not afraid to make a fool of myself by saying it here now. It may sound like I’m being proud and probably delusional but I’m not. Here’s why–

Am I a New York Times Bestselling author? No.

Am I even published? Nope.

Do I have an agent? Um…no.

Is everything I write perfect? Not a chance!

So how can I possibly be so confident in my writing prowess? For these reasons:

  1. I’m dedicated to my story. I have a story inside me and I have to tell it. Remember that this is why we’re all writers in the first place–not to get published, not to make millions of dollars, not for the fame. We all write, day after day, deep down, because we have stories to tell and we want to share them.
  2. I have a passion for my message. Beneath the surface of the stories I write, there’s something meaningful I want to say. It means so much to me that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make sure I get the chance to say it.
  3. I’m dedicated to learning. Because I want to do my story justice, I know I have to learn the best way to tell it and I’m up for that challenge. Not only up for it, excited about it. There is nothing more thrilling to me than growing as a writer.
  4. I love writing. All planning, productivity, and career goals aside, my reward for writing each day is the writing itself. I literally want to jump up and dance after penning a great scene (sometimes I do). It gives me so much happiness and an incredible sense of accomplishment. Every day I get to write is a day worth living.

Some people think being an amazing writer means having people love your work or having a publishing contract, but it simply isn’t true. A great writer is born long before you get the golden ticket (though if you stick with it, and publishing is your dream, those emails will come). If you have a passion for writing that energizes and fuels you, and if you are willing to do whatever it takes to keep writing, you’re already an amazing writer, publishing contract or not.

Don’t be afraid to say it.

Even if only to yourself.

Photo by Enid Yu

I am an author and a writing business teacher. I am also a mother of two, a wife, a businesswoman, a nature-lover, and a wannabe yogi. My debut women's fiction novel, PERFECTLY UNDONE, will be released on October 3, 2017. Here, I blog about my journey in publication in the hopes of inspiring others to follow their own dreams.

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