I recently went through a bit of a crisis of confidence and motivation. A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend a writing workshop through a wonderful organization. I did not expect to be selected when I submitted my writing sample months ago and was pleasantly surprised to be accepted.
After attending the first day I felt woefully unprepared and like a fish out of water. As the only person without some sort of background in writing, I was convinced that my place in the group was a great mistake. I didn’t know enough. I wasn’t talented enough. I looked around at all these other writers/authors doing amazing things with legitimate backgrounds and pedigree. They had aptitude and ability to create fabulous works of fiction. I was just a middle-aged, stay-at-home mom chasing a dream.
No one made me feel this way. My cohort was fantastic. Our teacher, a published author and university professor, was encouraging and engaging. I learned so much from our interactions, writing exercises and constructive feedback. The anxious feeling of not being enough was my doing alone.
I’ve taken the time to process my feelings over the past weeks and have come to the conclusion I can give up or do better. I refuse to give up. Just because I don’t have all the knowledge needed to do my story justice right now doesn’t mean I can’t continue to learn and acquire the skills needed. I didn’t get discouraged and give up the first time I played volleyball because I wasn’t a phenomenal player, I practiced and attended camps and clubs. I didn’t quit college the first time I had difficulty in a class, I studied more and consulted peers who could help me. I didn’t quit working the first time I had a challenging client, I sought out continuing education courses to learn new techniques. I have to accept I’m still at the beginning of my journey and get over the fear of not being perfect.
Just this morning I listened to a podcast, Fiction Writing Made Easy by Savannah Gilbo. This specific episode was titled, The #1 Reason Why So Many Novels Go Unpublished, and it was the right thing I needed to hear at the right time. The number one reason novels go unpublished is the authors become frustrated that the first draft isn’t great and give up. They get stuck in the “messy middle” and compare that place with finished and polished works. They then believe they don’t have the ability to write a good book. Instead of this defeated and hopeless, not to mention, useless frame of mind, we need a shift in our mindset. One specific quote from the podcast caught my attention, “trying to write a perfect draft or even a good draft is an impossible task.” I knew this, I even wrote a post about us as humans being a first draft on my aptly named blog, firstdraft.blog. “A first draft is a place to spill out ideas without the need to worry about the final product. It is a place to be creative, it is a place to make mistakes, it’s a place to explore. A first draft is messy and painful, but there can be no final product without going through the growing pains of a first draft.” I knew this on the surface, but did not yet fully understand and embrace this in my writing journey.
So I choose to do better. I choose to continue to learn and practice and seek peer input to improve my writing. I choose to persevere and produce the best product I am capable of. I choose to work through the growing pains and doubt.
I choose to believe in myself.