Confidence In Writers: The Good and The Bad

This cat has the balls I believe it takes to query agents 🙂
I recently finished the rough draft of a WIP and entered HELL the world of revisions. I know some people LOVE the revising process. It’s one step closer to submitting to agents. The polishing of a diamond in the rough. Maybe in time nope, not happening I will love revisions too.

But for now, it’s a bitch I’m not a fan.

Why?? Confidence.

Am I lacking? YES.

This was not always the case.

When I first picked up writing again about four years ago, my confidence was high. Not that I thought I was the best writer ever, or that I was even good, but I knew I could LEARN. Storytelling came naturally, but writing is not storytelling. It’s SHOWING. It’s a CRAFT. But I knew I could do it.

I also wasn’t concerned with selling. I wanted to write for ME. Getting pubbed was definitely a thought, but not within reach at that point and I was well aware. I had a loooong way to go before I was ready for the whole query process and that was okay. I’m a firm believer in doing things the right way and querying before I was ready was NOT THE RIGHT WAY.

I read horror stories about over-confident writers querying too early. I also knew that THINKING you’re good and actually BEING good were two different things. And honestly…no one wants to be a Mary Roach, the poor girl. (If you don’t know who Mary Roach is, you must watch this video to the very end).

That being said, do I think I’m a good writer? Yes.

But can I do better? YES.

Which is the issue. (For me and I’m sure many other writers). Because where is the line? How long do we work to ‘get better’ before we query?

If you wait until you feel like what you’ve written is good enough, you might never send that baby off into the real world.

This is true.

And…a lack of confidence can make you doubt not only your ability, but your story as well.

When I started this WIP, I felt ready. Ready to write a novel, shine it up and query. My actual writing skills had improved by leaps and bounds over the years. I looked like this when I began:

It was fun. I pantsed the hell out of it with the help of a rough outline. It was a fantastical world of faeries and druids and an ancient King. What’s not to love??
After I started revising? I looked like this:

Why?? MY LACK OF CONFIDENCE. Suddenly, I had no idea if this story was worth the time revisions would take. It was about faeries and druids and an ancient King.
OMG. *smh* FAERIES AND DRUIDS AND AN ANCIENT KING.
What was I thinking?? OF ALL THE STORIES IN MY HEAD, I CHOSE THIS ONE.

Did anybody even read that stuff anymore?? Would any agent even be remotely interested in attempting to sell a story like this?? Was the market already saturated and CHOKED TO DEATH on faeries and druids and ancient Kings??

WHAT HAD I DONE???? I was Mary Roach.

I wanted to kick myself and possibly entertained the idea of burning my laptop.
Needless to say, panic set in and I thought I needed to change just about everything in my story.
As of today I’m still worried I haven’t gotten the opening right. Does my heroine know too little? Is this the right place to start? How the hell am I going to get her from point A to point B believably???
I guess it’s just part of the process. MY process.

At some point, we all have to gain enough confidence to polish an MS and actually QUERY. That point and the road to get there is different for every writer. And the thing about being good enough? I bet very few writers ever feel good enough. I bet that most still have a few doubts about every book they have sitting on the shelves.

I’m sure I’ll make it over this hill, but for now it’s a long haul.

How about you?? Are you confident or not? How do you deal with self-doubt?





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9 Comments

  1. Oh, I think every writer struggles with this.
    AND, I think the minute we stop worrying about if 'we're good enough' is the moment we aren't.

    A little bit of worry keeps us fresh and constantly striving to be better and that, is a good thing!

    You got this. 🙂

  2. Ah, confidence. The trickiest part of gaining it is that to gain confidence, you must have success. To get success, you must have experience, and to get experience, you must RISK.

    I remember feeling JUST how you feel right now. And after three (or four, maybe five?!) revisions, that first "real" MS of mine is out for submission and FINALLY, I feel like it's RIGHT.

    Also…Mary Roach IS Molly Shannon, isn't she? http://webspace.webring.com/people/bu/um_4912/mshannonbio.html

  3. You'll never feel one hundred percent confident, because there will always be something you think you could've done better. You just have to do the best you can.
    My critique partners are awesome for finding what isn't working and suggesting ideas.
    And don't hate me – the revision process is my favorite.

  4. Completely lost my confidence I'd ever write/finish another book worth reading about two weeks ago. Sadly, I didn't have the option of putting this one down b/c of it's contract. Scared the hell out of me. Just gotta push through the insecurities and rediscover what you love about this absolute HELL. Because it's still there, buried under all the "rules," which I'm convinced are there to screw us up.

  5. Oh goodness, I am so there right now. I seriously could have written this post. Started taking writing seriously a few years ago? Check. Haven't queried a damn thing because I knew I had a lot to learn? Check. Have a project to revise that feels like the real deal? Check. Hate it with all my heart and feel like an utter failure? Triple check.

    The only thing that keeps me going is my stubbornness. I love this book, and it's the best thing I've written. I want to revise it so I can query and start collecting rejections.

    But still, I worry I'm Mary Roach (dude, she was WEIRD. Not just bad, but WEIRD).

    Hang in there. I'm sold on your book. Seriously. Faeries, druids, and ancient kings? SOLD.

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  7. (haha, I was logged into the wrong acct, so I had to delete my comment and sign back in…)

    First–wow, Mary Roach. I am glad I don't know any writers like that!

    Second, confidence is a biggie. I don't ever get to the flying high, I am so awesome place. EVER. More like, I am a total fraud, and it is only a matter of time before everyone realizes this place.

    That said, I pull myself out of the I suck zone as soon as I start feeling it, because it's destructive. There are many things I have no control over, and so there's no point wallowing in the Crap Land of negativity. Instead I try to turn my energy to what I can do, what I can control, and that is learning and doing what I can to improve. 😉

    Revision is all about putting one foot in front of the other, and being open to every opportunity to gather feedback and improve. You'll totally knock out an amazing book if you do! 🙂