As writing becomes more serious I find I am in a constant battle with confidence. It is ironic because I have just completed the final edit of my novel (see the note at the bottom of this post) with the help of some wonderful people. It has been a tediously repetitive but necessary process. However the result means taking Unexpected Obsession into print is no longer a dream. Despite this, I find myself hesitating.
Being a writer is similar to jumping onto a seesaw. One minute you’re up, the next you’re down. If you self-publish it can be worse. Often there is no-one on the other end to make the seesaw work. Slowly this last bit has changed and each level (the up in the seesaw) is a cause to celebrate. One of the best moments of my life was seeing the manuscript go live. Celebrating though, can fool you into a comfort zone, a zone we relish because we feel safe. Let’s stay here for a moment and rest, we tell ourselves. The truth is we can’t because if the book is to sell then we need to be on the seesaw permanently, and each time we need to go higher whether or not someone else is there. If you don’t someone else may never be there. An infusion of confidence would be handy at this point.
Vincent Van Gough said that “if you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” I wish it was that easy but didn’t he cut off an ear, and didn’t he die to finally achieve recognition. I decided a little foray into emotional intelligence might shed some light into what confident people do to maintain that edge. Instead, I found the opposite –what confident people don’t do. The post by Travis Bradberry was an interesting slant on the subject.
The first thing that came up was that confident people don’t make excuses. It makes sense. Assuming responsibility keeps you focused and on task. It would be so easy to just stop and let the drugging, soothing and complacent qualities of the comfort zone take over. Confident people don’t wait for permission to act. If they did then their dreams would stay dreams. However taking that first step, second step and all the steps it takes to fulfil your desired outcome is pretty scary. I always feel like I need permission to continue. Reading that sentence I can see my foolishness and I do constantly make the effort to look at things from a different perspective.
The questions I posed and the trepidation they caused when I began blogging, what if no-one reads it, what if they did and didn’t like it, I hoped would disappear with time. I was naive. Jay Colby suggests we embrace and accept what lies beyond our comfort zone. I think that includes our fears. If we do something that frightens us every day we may just be making a bold move towards achieving. My trepidation needs to be viewed as an impetus.
The article by Travis tells us confident people don’t seek attention, or constant praise. It’s true but it is this very point that causes a dilemma for writers. The craft is difficult and highly competitive. We thrive on input, we need it. Confident people are said to draw their self-worth from within. In theory writers do this or they would never write. It is a two-edged sword. Once out there our work turns us into a writhing mess of exposed nerves because success is dependent on other people’s approval; it is how the writer earns a living.
Confident people don’t put things off. What if the muse is silent? Things that should work suddenly don’t. For example confident people don’t let a lack of resources get in their way but for writers the muse controls the resources. It is this muse that organises our thoughts into sentences on the page. Travis says confident people “don’t get thrown off course just because they don’t have the right title, the right staff, or the money to make things happen. Either they find a way to get what they need, or they figure out how to get by without it.” In short they become risk-takers. Tell me that doesn’t scare you. It does me. No wonder I regress so often to lack of confidence territory.
Self-publishing made it possible for the first step in my journey. Jay Colby believes connecting and networking with other risk-takers is vital. He says there “is no substitute for simply knowing people who are doing what you want to do and start asking questions and emulating them.” I would venture to add that my readers are also part of those steps and hopefully will keep me in line by reviewing and commenting. So I guess I’d better go back to work so that you get to meet Alexia and Ricardo, a most intriguing couple in Unexpected Passion, Book 2 in The Unexpected Series.
P.S. If you want the now updated version of Unexpected Obsession having purchased before 24th January 2017 send me your contact (email) details before the 3rd February 2017 and I will send you the new one as a gift. No drastic changes have been made but typos, spelling and format errors have been adjusted.