How to Believe in Yourself as a Writer When You’re Just Starting Out
Am I a writer? What if I can’t write? What if no-one will read what I publish?
Seriously, if had a dollar for every time I heard this from an aspiring writer, then I would be a multi-millionaire. It’s almost like a right of passage.
The first thing you learn about being a writer is to doubt yourself. It’s like you’re cancelling yourself out of the game before you even have a chance to play. These doubt-filled questions are deeply rooted in fear but not just any fear.
Fear of failure, a fear that you will fall flat on your butt. Fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in fact, it’s a great thing, but you shouldn’t let fear make your decisions or stop you from taking action and pursuing your dreams.
So, how do you believe in yourself as a writer when you’re just starting out?
In this blog post, I’m going to share with you three mindsets that you need to adapt to believe in yourself as a writer.
What is Mindset?
Before I dive into the mindsets, I think it’s imperative to define what a mindset is and why it’s so important.
A mindset is a filter in which you view your world.
It’s like the windscreen of a car. Imagine for a moment that you’re driving down an unsealed road, and all of a sudden, a small rock flicks up from the road and dings your windshield. It’s only just a small crack in your windshield, and you can see perfectly fine, but as you continue down the road, more rocks flick up, and more cracks appear. After a while, you become accustomed to viewing the road through your cracked windshield. This is what it’s like to have a negative mindset and to leave it unchecked.
In life, you tend to get more of what you focus on.
So, when you’re constantly criticising yourself unfairly, you’ll find more reasons to be critical, and the same is true of the opposite focus. If you focus on being kind to yourself and encouraging, you’ll find more reasons to be kind to yourself.
Everyone starts somewhere
This has to be the one thing I wish all aspiring writers and authors knew about the craft of writing. It’s almost like people believe you need to be booker prize-winning from the start. This isn’t true because you need to start somewhere. Or, to put it more bluntly, you need to start.
You will never arrive at a point in time when you think you’re a great writer.
I know I alluded to this earlier in a previous blog post, but I believe it’s worth repeating. Writing one of the longest apprenticeships you’ll ever embark on.
The perfect example of what I am trying to illustrate is Picasso. I know you’re thinking, “but he’s amazing.” Hear me out for a second. There’s a museum in Spain, that’s entirely dedicated to Picasso and it’s not focused on his best pieces. It’s almost a celebration of his evolution as an artist. His earlier pieces of art are nowhere near as great as the art he created later in life. What he learned when he first started became his foundation for the later pieces. As you look back over his entire body of work what you notice is his evolution as an artist.
This is why I love Picasso so much, he’s the epiphany of what it truly means to be a creative entrepreneur. He didn’t start as an artist who had been dished out a mass of talent at birth. Instead, he developed his talent over time, and the same is true of being a writer.
Focus on becoming a better writer through each body of work you create.
Failure is a necessary part of the journey!
Another misconception shared by new writers is becoming a great writer is like earning a job title. It’s a titled earned as you climb the writer’s ladder. This mindset is really what puts a lot of new writers off embarking on the publishing journey. They take a deep look at where they are and they compare this to where they want to be, which is usually like one of their writing idols. This is where most people panic, become filled with fear and then decide they will never make it as a writer.
Failure is a real fear shared by most people but sometimes we let it stop us from pursuing our dreams. We’re scared that no-one will buy our books, or our work will be received with heavy criticism. Every writer has a book or two that wasn’t received in the way they envisioned or a book that was criticised. The most successful writers don’t let these moments define them. They see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow, instead of a giant obstacle that cannot be crossed.
The next time you create or publish something that wasn’t received in the way you envisioned, ask yourself the following questions.
What can I learn from this experience?
Did I market this to the right audience? Am I expecting too much too soon?
Asking questions and taking a step back to reflect, and taking immediate action is the key to learning and growing. It’s also a way to ensure you don’t learn the same lesson twice. There’s nothing more painful than realising you’re going around and around, making the same mistakes, but not learning the lessons.
Managing Your Expectations
In relation to the last question, “Am I expecting too much too soon?“ I’m not saying, your dream of making the number one place on the New York Times bestseller list is unrealistic. It might not be an appropriate first goal. The first piece you publish is an experiment in learning and is a necessary part of the journey. It’s important to make sure that your goals are appropriate to where you’re at in your journey. Keep dreaming big but break your goals down into smaller goals. So, maybe your first goal should be to get your first three reviews on Amazon.
Start seeing failure for what it really is, an opportunity to learn and grow and a sign that you’re moving closer to achieving your dreams. If you’re not failing then you’re probably not taking action. Be encouraged that you’re on the right track.
Invest in yourself
I first started writing in 2011. But, I didn’t start writing novels or blog posts. I started out writing screenplays, poems, songs, countless blog posts and novels. All of which will never see the light of day. The reason for this was I wanted to give myself room to learn, grow, and screw up in a relatively safe environment. In the process of my writing journey. I have invested thousands of pounds in my education as a writer. I’ve purchased courses and countless books. I’ve also invested my time in a heap of free products like a podcast, YouTube videos and read blog posts.
You need to invest in yourself as a writer because you are your biggest asset.
When most people think of investing in themselves, the first thing that comes to mind is a university course. There is a very nerdy part of me that secretly wants to polish off a PhD in English Literature, but this isn’t what it means to invest in yourself. It’s just one option that’s available to you. When you invest in yourself as a writer, you’re sending yourself a clear message. This message is, you believe in yourself, and your ability to achieve your writing dreams and you’re willing to do whatever it takes.
I remember when I first invested in myself as a writer, I purchased a book called the Screenwriters Bible from Foyles, along Charing Cross Road. It was priced at £35.99, and it was the most expensive book I bought that was not directly related to a university degree. I purchased the book because I wanted to start screenwriting and I had no idea where to start. But, I was dabbling in writing. After I made the purchase, I began to take myself more seriously as a writer, and it lead me to try other genres, to experiment, and to keep writing. This is the power of investing in yourself.
If you’re like I was back in 2011, merely dreaming of becoming a writer and not knowing where to start, I would love to set yourself a challenge.
Start by investing in yourself.
Go to your local bookstore, or get on Amazon and buy yourself a book on the writing you wish to pursue. Start reading and putting the advice you learn into action straight away.
Are you struggling to believe in yourself as a writer? What actionable steps are you going to take, today to help you believe in yourself? I want to hear from you. Let me know by sharing your actionable steps in the comments section below.
Thank you for listening, reading, commenting and sharing with such enthusiasm.
I’m Amelia. I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Missing, the first book in the James Lalonde series. On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process. Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.