An Introverted Writer’s Take on Confidence

february 2016 imageAh, 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:

  1. Realize many other people feel the same about something new or not fully realized in their lives.
  2. Meditate to clear and calm your mind.
  3. Meet new and interesting people. They are fuel for your soul and fuel for your novels.
  4. Read a published crappy book that makes you realize that you could do so much better.
  5. 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.


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