Confidence is deeply rooted in expectations of yourself, of others, and of experiences.

For example, when you sit down to write you might expect the words to flow freely and for you to have sixty blissful uninterrupted minutes of writing time. Then the phone rings incessantly, you cannot for the life of you figure out what your heroine is supposed to do next, and your child/pet/spouse decides that they want to chat.

Expectations suck because inevitably the reality is much different. That’s not to say that reality cannot be way cooler than the expected, but more often than not we hope for or expect the best and get a different experience.

When your expectations aren’t met, your ego takes a hit. It happens to everyone. Fear creeps in. You start wondering if you’re ever going to get your book finished and thoughts like “Maybe I’m not cut out for this” begin to emerge. Martha Beck calls it your Lizard brain. It’s the fear based voice that is trying to save you from experiencing failure by not letting you risk anything at all. (Read Steering by Starlight by the lovely Ms. Beck to learn more about learning to laugh at your lizard and follow your heart to your destiny, whatever it may be).

The Goal of Gratitude and Awareness

The next time you’re trying to write and you’re feeling fears and doubts about your abilities pull back from those thoughts just enough to be aware of them. Observe the thoughts without judgment. Take several deep breaths and in that moment think about at least 10 things that you’re grateful for. They don’t need to be related to writing but they certainly can be.

For example, this morning I was writing a response for a psychology class discussion. The discussion is online so I can see that my opinion is quite different than my classmates. As I finished my response I felt fear that I’d be judged and that I wasn’t sufficient at backing up or explaining my position. I took a deep breath, or six, and hit “reply.” I was grateful that:

  • I had finished my homework for the day
  • I had a weight lifting workout today rather than a cardio one –I’m not much of a runner.
  • My kids were gone and the house was quite, except for the snoring of my pug.
  • There was a half pot of coffee left and it was mine, all mine!
  • I could focus the rest of the day on writing projects that I was actually looking forward to.

I felt much better. The silly fears had vanished. In that moment, and in this moment now and the next and the next, everything is okay.

There’s too much to be grateful for to let fears and doubts put a damper on dreams. The goal is to understand that at any given moment when you observe your fears, doubts, and negative thoughts without judgment, you’re simply aware of them, then you’ll realize that in that moment there are hundreds of things to be grateful for and nothing to really be afraid of. This gives you the little boost of confidence you need to persevere and follow your writing dreams.