Writer’s Confidence Block

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About a month ago I challenged myself to start trying new things- at least one thing once a week. I said I would post every week to keep everyone updated on all the new adventures I partook in. Well, I wouldn’t say I have failed my challenge- but I have learned that even for someone far more outgoing than me, this would probably be hard. My timing was pretty bad. I literally was just a few weeks from finals, so it became a huge challenge to stick to my plan. In some ways I probably did give up on my challenge, but at the same time, I learned something really important about myself. I can’t force myself to try new things because everyday is essentially new. I began to realize that I could find something “new” in everyday without forcing myself to go out and do something different. I was trying too hard. I got this notion that I needed to DO MORE. But, that hurt me more than anything. I wanted the challenge to build my confidence and self-esteem, something I have been lacking for awhile.

Recently, I looked up a beauty tutorial online, which led me to the phenomenon that is Youtube. People like Jenna Marbles, Joey Graceffa,Missglamorazzi, FleurdeForce, and thousands of others of my generation have essentially made a career out of being Youtube personalities. This really blew my mind. They make money from filming videos? Where do I sign up?!?

Then, I realized that blogging is very similar. People have made careers around their blogs, and I have to admit it seems quite ideal when I find myself looking at grad school, publishing internships, and the overall incredibly competitive job market. It all seems so appealing than the potential struggle before me.

All of this information, and my own desires to make a living for myself, has shot my writing confidence. I hate the thought of having to “sell” myself in the sense of trying to get perspective employers to hire me or the wide-web audience to want to read what I have to write. Wait a second… this sounds vaguely familiar. To be a writer in general, people have to want to read your work. Ding-ding-ding. Nothing, even with all the technology that now exists, has changed this fact. So, here I was for the last month, psyching myself out that the world has changed too much for me to ever be remotely successful. Not true. Writers since the dawn of time have had the problem that I now face. Do I write for the love of writing or for my career? And why does my writing never seem to be “good enough”.

It has been hard for me to blog lately because I have started to worry about my audience, since one actually exists now. This is my first experience as a writer, feeling that need of acceptance from the darling people that have taken the time to sit down and read something from a complete stranger. I let myself think about it too much, and it was as if I was delivering a speech and realized someone was actually listening. I froze. To someone that has written down everything in a journal her whole life, realizing I had a tangible audience was not only shocking, but incredibly terrifying.

I’ve always written for myself. I’ve been told that is a good thing, but sometimes I have to wonder. It is one of the first rules of writing in elementary school- “know your audience”. I think sometimes it is a difficult balance of writing what you believe in and writing what you think others could potentially believe in. Honestly, I still haven’t quite figured it out, but when I read this advice from Elizabeth Gilbert to a young fan of her’s it helped push me to not give up on writing:

“B has already stumbled, in her young career, on the biggest obstacle to artistry of all: the demon of perfectionism.

Let us vanquish it.

I was lucky enough to be raised by a very pragmatic and productive mother, who taught me this motto, by which I still try to live: DONE IS BETTER THAN GOOD. It is by this motto that I have been able to write (and release from my white-knuckled clutches!) six books. To this day, I would rather publish something finished and flawed, than keep something perfect and incomplete in my desk drawer. (Incompletion, by the way, is the very hallmark of perfectionism.)

So I say unto my friend B, unto myself, unto all of us—just get it done. It doesn’t matter. Really, it doesn’t. Finish your sloppy-ass novel, your irritating painting, your not-what-you-had-hoped-for poem, your disappointing song, your lame dance, your boring play. Finish it, or you’re going to make yourself and everyone around you nuts.

Persistence is your friend.

Stubbornness is your muse.

Perfectionism is an idiot enemy.

DONE IS BETTER THAN GOOD.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

At the end of the day, I absolutely love being a blogger. I love the response from my own ideas and experiences, but especially seeing what other “normal” people have to say (I say normal, but I’m pretty sure we are all weirder than we like to admit). Conversation has always been so fufilling in my life, and I feel as though blogging is just an enormous version of conversation. Sometimes, it even almost seems like a really big writing workshop.

I also found that this post http://bottledworder.com/2013/05/07/electronic-writing-and-the-numbers-game/#more-7569 from bottledworder’s blog really helpful on this topic.

As for me, I think I’m going to ignore all the page views for now and just keep on in my writing journey. If you care to join me- “Welcome aboard, it may be a bumpy ride!”

I wish you all happy ventures on whatever you take on today!

 

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8 thoughts on “Writer’s Confidence Block

  1. Great post! I agree with Gilbert’s advice, which is similar to what my Dean once told me (I wrote about it in my “Perfectionism and Publishing” post last August): “the paper you turn in is always better than the paper you don’t.” Obviously, she was talking about term papers, but the same advice applies to manuscripts and blog posts. It’s important to get the words down–it’s probably better than you think.

    1. It sounds counter-intuitive being the perfectionist that I am, but I totally agree, and it has been priceless advice. I’ll have to check out that post too. Thanks for all your thoughts! 🙂

  2. Wow…you have no idea how writing a piece like this strikes a note with readers…it did with me. Perfectionism has been my undoing in life, and not so long ago (Jan 2013), I wrote a piece for our tiny town’s online paper, inspiring people to get involved with life, and join me on a journey. Needless to say, I still have not followed up with an article, for many of the same reasons. I LOVE what you quoted from Elizabeth Gilbert too. I think I shall reread your post daily for the next week for inspiration! Thank you!
    You may also be interested to know that E Gilbert is being interviewed and debut author she is mentoring – Rayya Elias, this coming weekend on The Book Report radio show. It might also be a useful inspiration. Not sure of all the stations and schedules, but you can look them up on the website bookreportradio(dot)com. They also archive all the shows, so you can catch up next week too!
    Thanks again for making me reassess the bystander pose I’ve taken of late! 🙂

    1. Aww thank you so much! Your comment is inspiration to not give up and is relieving to know I am not alone! Ironically, writing this post was my first step in trying to not be so concerned with perfection or my own ridiculous expectations. So, while it was difficult, it was liberating to just talk about what was putting me in such a writer’s funk. At the end of the day, I suppose all we can do is be honest with ourselves and others, and I think that is a valued attribute of any artists. Again, thanks so much for your kind words and I’m so glad my post has been helpful. I will definitely have to look up that interview- Elizabeth Gilbert is essentially my literary mentor so I wouldn’t want to miss it! 🙂 Good luck in your future writing endeavors!

      1. I think it is that very honesty, that makes your audience enjoy your writing. It’s so much easier to associate with someone who acknowledges where they are at, making for a “real” post, which often can be picked up by readers. Thanks again! 🙂

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad that this post was inspiring to you – it’s definitely something I’ve struggled with in my writing. Best wishes in your writing endeavors and thanks so much for reading!

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