by Bradley Gunson
Confidence goes a long way. That is, until it blinds you.
Overconfidence makes you think your writing is flawless while confidence makes you strive towards making your writing flawless.
I first began writing with the confidence that only arrogance could bring. I had the “I can do better than that” attitude in regards to successful authors, when I had only just thought of the initial concept of a story. So I got to writing. I wrote the whole of draft 1, and it was fantastic.
Only it wasn’t.
I learned just how bad my writing was, and my confidence in it dwindled. Still, I persevered. I wouldn’t be defeated by that, I would improve, and become a great writer. So I learned, with the great help of the writing forum Mythic Scribes and its community, while writing through draft 2. About the halfway point I received very positive feedback and my confidence in my writing skyrocketed. Only this time, I had been humbled. I knew that I wasn’t the best writer ever, and I knew that my writing needed improvement. But it was good. From this point onwards I have written faster, better and I have felt good about it all. I am now proud of my work, and I believe that this time I deserve to be.
This is what a writer needs. This is what everybody needs. Confidence and humility. Confidence to strive to be the best you can be, and humility to know that you aren’t the best. Nowhere near the best. That’s what life is, striving towards your goals. Remember that pride isn’t a bad thing, despite the need for humility. You must find the balance.
A. E. Lowan puts this perfectly, “To be a professional writer takes 50% hubris and 50% humility. The mad audacity to publish and still accept you’ll always be learning.”
So if you are a beginner writer, without having learned the craft before hand, and you think your writing is amazing, it is likely that you suck. Oh, don’t worry. We all do at first. And that’s okay. (Better to learn early on how to improve, anyway, rather than after a full draft. Damn you draft 1.) Even if you write the worst thing ever to disgrace paper with its touch, it’s all fine. We all have to start somewhere, and there’s nowhere to go but up, from there.
As Chuck Wendig wrote in his blog post, “If you want to be a writer, then write. And suck. And write your way through the suck.”
My advice to any writer is to have people read your work. If you’re not confident enough to show people you know, then post it on a writing forum to strangers for critiquing. Learn through this how to improve and what to improve on. And do it. Keep writing, even if it’s bad. Keep improving until you are confident in your writing. Then improve some more. Don’t stop. No writer is beyond criticism, not even the most successful authors.
In any aspect of life, work towards becoming confident in something. Learn how to do it. Learn how to do it well. Learn how to improve. Strive to become better, and if you do become the best, keep going.
Records are meant to be broken, so challenge yourself, and keep improving.