There’s an agent, Nathan Bransford, that I follow on twitter. He sometimes has some interesting industry blogs…well, probably often, but I only click over there every now and then. This time when a post came up about a lack of confidence and writing? That one had my name written all over it, so I clicked through.
I’ve got to say, to some extent, I agree. It’s an interesting post, and some of the comments are interesting…some tend to get pretty…ah…well, I think some viewed the article on a very, very deep level. O_O
But it’s interesting. As with many interesting posts, I figured I might as well discuss my two cents here. ;o)
In my normal, every day average life, I don’t lack for confidence. In some ways, I’m probably a little overconfident and my husband can attest that I have moments of utter arrogance. Some of it just came from my environment-I had three brothers, we grew up in an area of town where the quieter, milder people often became…targets. I never did care for the idea of being a target, and I was too mean to let my brothers run roughshod over me. The brothers alone made sure I’d know how to handle myself and the area of town just added to it.
Plus, I went into nursing. How much confidence are you going to put in the hands of a nurse who looks like she’d faint if you looked cross-eyed at her? Confidence, I do not lack.
Unless it comes to my writing. When it comes to my writing, I tend to think my writing sucks. And here’s the kicker. I’m perfectly fine with this.
Why? Well, since in my everyday average life, I tend to veer toward confidence, maybe a tad overconfidence…hmmm…how can I put this politely. I can’t. So I won’t bother. I’ve met some overconfident writers (sub in egotistical for overconfident) and one thing they are…is annoying. I’m annoying enough-I don’t need to add ego to my writing. Or at least any more ego into the mess.
I’d rather think my writing sucks, and be pleasantly surprised when people, my agent, my editors, my readers disagree, then run the risk of being on of those overconfident people.
Not only do a lot of them come with attitudes that can knock you off your feet at ten paces, some of them seem to have this…mindset that they are already very good writers.
So…if they already very good writers…do they seek to improve?
That’s another thing.
Even if they don’t knock me off my feet at ten paces with their ego, do they seek to improve?
Me, I’m lazy. If I suddenly start thinking, Hey, well, maybe I’m pretty good after all, maybe I’ll stop trying to get better.
I don’t want that. I always want to improve. I always want to learn.
If you don’t lack for confidence, are you going to continually strive to improve? Well, there’s a good chance many people wouldn’t seek to improve. Many would, but many would not, because that’s human nature. Plenty of us always look for the easy way out and if we’re already convinced we rocking the writing world, why try to improve?
So that’s where it can affect the published writer.
For the unpublished…if the writer is overconfident, I can see how this could often lead to some bitterness. If they are convinced their writing is the utterness of sublime, when they don’t accepted here, or the agent rejects them there, perhaps, instead of looking to see what needs to be changed, or improved, they are going to get bitter.
The fact is, we all need to improve. Because we’re all human. The perfect book has yet to be written. So if a writer is overconfident and they let that blind them to the areas they needed to improve, or they become bitter over things like rejections, then their overconfidence has become another hurdle. Publishing has a thousand hurdles already. We don’t need to add more of our creation.
On the flipside though, under-confidence can cripple you. At some point, you have to trust the book. I think the majority of my work sucks, but I trust my agent. My editors. My beta readers. In the early stages. In the later stages, once the works are there for readers, I trust my readers. If they are buying, enjoying, then I trust them-they wouldn’t buy my work if it didn’t appeal, after all.
This doesn’t mean I don’t doubt myself, but I don’t let the doubt cripple me. I use the doubt, harness it, try to find what I perceived as the flaws and improve on them in the next book, and the next.
It may well be a balancing act for some, fighting the balance between over confident and underconfident, although I think people are generally one way or the other. The trick is probably knowing which one you are, and understanding what obstacles it can present…so you can handle them.
Of course, figuring that out could be tricky. Hell, the business of writing is tricky, period.