Ah, writers. We spend countless hours with ourselves in our heads, surrounded by books, pens, and papers. The only warm-blooded thing in the room is a dog or cat, maybe a bird or a fish. Any person in the room with us is of the fictional variety, and they don’t do much good for our psyches or self-confidence. As we grow increasingly inward, we grow increasingly unsure of our writing, giving us plenty of time to tell ourselves what a stupid idea writing a novel is.
There is security in being at home amongst your tribe, however made up they are. Venturing out is a scary proposition. I was happy with that.
At the end of 2015, I decided to start my own business. I loved the idea of starting something from scratch, being my own boss, and working from home with the dogs and cats as coworkers. I did a business plan. A friend helped with setting up a website. I took a class to boost my credentials. But then came time to sell my services. I had to market myself. I had to venture out of my cozy home office and, gulp, talk to strangers about something I had conceptualized but hadn’t yet worked out the details. I was certain I’d come across as incompetent when I spoke to people.
I started signing up for networking events just to make excuses not to go. Boston is a playground for start-ups, and I had many events to choose from. Finally, I went to one then another then another. Sure I stumbled over explaining myself but so did others. I ended up making an important connection, which led to future conversations. I ended up meeting some interesting people doing some fascinating and creative things. The writer in me got recharged as I talked to people and studied their actions. I was in awe of some of the beautiful work spaces in which these events took place, all of it fodder for future characters and settings. I did the most extroverted of things and found myself energized by these events. I looked forward to them. A happy byproduct of these events was a huge boost in my confidence level that has bled into other parts of my life, including my writing. Around the same time, I decided to change the point of view of my novel. I found my voice. I sunk into that writing zone more easily and comfortably. I suddenly felt confident in many aspects of my life, including in what I was writing. I joked I’d have to turn in my introvert’s card.
I’ve thought a lot about what happened to me during the change from 2015 to 2016. My confidence continues in this second month of this year, when I managed to find an interesting job with relative ease and submitted a flash piece for an anthology contest. I attribute it all to that first networking event that I grudgingly went to.
For every writer out there, I wish that you too could find that thing that builds your confidence. Here are some ideas:
- Realize many other people feel the same about something new or not fully realized in their lives.
- Meditate to clear and calm your mind.
- Meet new and interesting people. They are fuel for your soul and fuel for your novels.
- Read a published crappy book that makes you realize that you could do so much better.
- Embrace failure. Learn from it. Everyone fails. It’s your reaction to it that’s important.
So go forth, writers. Mix and mingle. Meet new people. Who knows where it will lead.