There's a great scene in the second season opener of The West Wing where Chief of Staff Leo McGarry is giving advice to President Bartlet:
"Act as if ye have faith and faith shall be given to you. Put it another way, fake it till you make it."The pursuit of publishing is a rough road, and if you're anything like me, you've had moments of pure panic along the way. This is normal, but that nagging self doubt can be destructive. It can keep you from taking the necessary steps to your publishing dream. Because if you're too scared to get advice or feedback, you'll have a much harder -- if not impossible -- time improving your skills and your work. (Granted, there are some who just pick up a pen and write a sellable novel, but we don't really like those people, do we? -grin-)
Confidence in your ability to grow, even when you know you're not Harlan Ellison (insert your own favorite author here), is what gives you the strength to put yourself out there and improve. It's understanding that your work is not you -- and seeing how others feel about that work can help you make it better. It's what allows you to listen to a negative crit and turn it into a positive learning experience.
Is it scary? Heck yeah. Painful? Yeppers. Necessary? For most, yes. Because that's how we learn and grow. We skinned our knees falling off bikes too. That didn't stop us from trying to do a wheelie. Can you imagine giving up bike riding because you were afraid the other kids would think you pedaled badly? Why let worry over your writing stop you from growing as a writer.
I have always been confident about my writing, even when I was sure it sucked and no one would ever want to read it (I guess I was confident that it was bad). I may not have felt good about the project I was working on, but I always felt that I had the ability to write something that I could sell someday. I think that confidence is what pushed me to study, learn, try new things, and put myself out there to get critiqued and learn how to critique others.
I think it also helped me put a necessary buffer between me and the project. I was a writer, but the work was the work. It could suck, but I was still okay. All I had to do was figure out why the work sucked, and do what I had to do to make it better.
There were times when I was completely deluding myself and that got me through to the other side. Other times, I knew I was deluding myself, and those were the dark moments. Those were the times I was sure I would never reach my dream and I should give up. Or more current, sure I was a one-book wonder and that I could never, ever, get the sequel to be as good. And now that I'm done with my contract, that fear that I won't sell another book.
That's when you need the con. The lie. And what better time to fool yourself than to get you through a dark moment? Because ultimately, it's not a lie. All that you need is there, you're just too scared to see it.
"Act as if ye have faith and faith shall be given to you. Put it another way, fake it till you make it."If it's good enough for Bartlet, it's good enough for me.