I thought about titling this post “How Committed Are You?” But with writers, that phrase could be taken many ways. Some of us wonder if we should be committed. *smile*
We writers balance on many thin lines. We have to be willing to listen to criticism if we want to improve, but we also have to be confident enough in our work to send it out and not just revise endlessly. We have to share our ideas clearly, but we can’t be too tell-y. We have to make our characters likable but flawed.
It’s enough to make us certain we should be committed. How many opposites can we embody and still keep our head straight?
Another area we often struggle with is commitment and self-doubt. We need to be committed to our writing and yet self-doubt makes us question that commitment.
What It Means to Be Committed to Writing
Being committed to our writing career requires time. We spend thousands of hours learning the craft, understanding how the publishing industry works, and drafting and revising our words.
Many times, we have to be committed enough to spend money—that we might not have—for our career. We might buy a new laptop, a domain for our website, or go to a writing workshop. We might even attend a writing conference like RWA or WANACon.
Dedicating time or money shows a level of commitment that most who say they’re going to write a book never demonstrate. In other words, that commitment means we’re special.
What It Means to Battle Self-Doubt
I missed this year’s RWA National, so I didn’t see this live, but luckily the fantastic Keynote speech by Cathy Maxwell is online. Her speech illuminated another important aspect of writing life: self-doubt.
She shares a story about a friend of her ex-son-in-law, who took up art later in life. He was committed to the idea that he had an artist lurking inside him even though he’d never even doodled, and despite the teasing, he decided to go to school to learn art.
To the surprise of everyone, he turned out to be good. Really good. Maybe even a prodigy.
He was good enough that people were willing to pay over a thousand dollars for one of his pieces. He was good enough to be accepted into a prestigious Master of Fine Arts program. He was good enough and committed enough to complete that degree.
But that commitment to his art wasn’t enough. Despite the acclaim he experienced, he never signed any of his pieces. Why? He never felt he was good enough.
He died before he could ever accept his talent and skills and what he had to share with the world. He never felt his work was worthy of the world’s attention. And that doubt destroyed his ability to succeed—in the art world, unsigned pieces sell for less money.
In the writing world, self-doubt can destroy our ability to succeed too. We can be committed enough to write, to learn, to improve, and to finish a book. But if we let self-doubt hold us back, we won’t succeed. Self-doubt will undermine all our other efforts.
“Nothing can get in the way of our success, of our sharing our stories, of us becoming exactly the people we’re supposed to be, except for our self-doubt. … Self-doubt kills creativity.”
— Cathy Maxwell
RWA National 2013 Keynote Speech
What It Means to Believe in Ourselves
We are special. We are unique. Only we can share the stories that live in our heart and in our head.
We have to push ourselves not only to commit to getting those stories into words, but we also have to push ourselves to let others read them. To know our stories are worthy of the world. To believe we’re deserving of the world’s attention.
Unless we’re keeping our stories private for reasons that have nothing to do with self-doubt, we should push ourselves to share them. Our stories are a gift for the world.
“Sharing stories isn’t just a career. Sharing stories is the way we reach out to others.”
— Cathy Maxwell
RWA National 2013 Keynote Speech
It’s great to have commitment. I’ve attended three in-person writing conferences and this weekend with WANACon will mark my second online writing conference. I know many of you are committed to your writing as well. Some have even signed up for WANACon along with me.
But commitment without follow through robs the world of our contributions. Don’t let self-doubt prevent you from sharing your gifts. Don’t be stingy. Share. *smile*
Registration is currently open for my workshop on how to do just enough story development to write faster, while not giving our pantsing muse hives. Interested? Sign up for “Lost Your Pants? The Impatient Writers Guide to Plotting a Story.” (Blog readers: Use Promo Code “savethepants” to save $15 on registration.)
How are you committed to writing? Have you let self-doubt hold you back? How have you shared your writing—a blog, a published book, submitting to a beta reader or agent? Will you be at WANACon with me?Pin It