C is for Confidence
A writer without confidence is like a monkey without poo to fling. They just sit there, disheartened, empty, dead. Sure they can fling other stuff around – but what’s the point? As writers we need to have the confidence to fling poop around the page during first drafts. It’s easy to begin a new project, reread your work and exclaim what you’ve written is crap, poop, excrement, night soil, sewage, meadow muffins…
But as a writer you have to have confidence in your work. You have to understand that you can write and you’ve experienced these feelings of doubt before. No one starts off with a perfect first sentence or paragraph or first draft. It takes time and confidence and the willingness to fling poo around the page until you have enough novelist guano to start moulding a story from.
You must tell yourself each and ever day that you are a writer, what you write is worthwhile, and you will have a bloody good novel by the time you’ve finished wading through the number-two (and three and four) drafts that litter your desk.
Self-assurance is a hard talent to learn for a writer. We have to be our own worst critics in order to get the job done. If we like our work too much then we might not want to cut, edit and hack the hell out of it until it’s a better story for it. Confidence must straddle the line between cockiness and conviction. You can’t be so confident that you believe your first draft is perfect, spelling errors and all – but you can’t be so harsh a critic that you edit, and edit, and edit, until you go mad from the effort, your story constantly changing and evolving from the original concept until it bears no resemblance to your initial idea.
So you write, and write some more, then read, and read some more. You need to learn more about yourself than the process of storytelling. No doubt if you’ve been writing for a while and you love reading as much as I do then you already know how to tell a story…but that’s not the problem. The problem is believing you can write a story. You need to learn to trust yourself, and have faith in your own abilities.
First drafts require confidence.
Save your inner critic for the editing stage.