What’s the fundamental difference between having confidence and not having it? It’s mindset, right? Whether or not you feel confident has everything to do with how you think and what you believe about your writing skills and about yourself as a person.
Now before we dive into this too deeply, it’s important to realize that you’re not alone. Every single person in this world, and certainly every single writer, experiences fear, doubt, and what’s called limiting beliefs. I’m just certain that Nora Roberts and Stephen King both have moments of doubt.
Now the doubts that they experience and what gets them through may be slightly different but the point is that fear and doubt are human – they’re emotions. And the great thing about emotions is that you’re in control of them. Once you realize this and fully embrace it, the rest is just a matter of practice.
Now why is confidence so important?
Confidence, or rather a lack of it, can have a huge impact on your life. It affects:
- How you interact with others
- The risks you take
- The dreams you make and pursue
- Your ability to persevere and so much more
When you’re confident you:
Feel capable of tackling challenges, you stay positive despite the naysayers and doubters, and I daresay you also attract opportunities and other confident people to you. Think about it, would you rather work with someone who believes in themselves or someone who doubts every word they’ve written on the page?
So let’s go back to those confidence killers and triggers and talk a bit about why they can be so powerful.
I’ll use a personal experience as an example. I had an agent who was unable to sell my book. I received letter after letter from Editors telling me why they didn’t want it. So while getting the agent was a huge confidence boost, my ego was repeatedly slammed by publishers. No fun. It hit me so hard that I didn’t write for a year. I pretended to write but really I was just distracting myself. I wasn’t willing to put myself out there again. So how did I get back to it?
Identifying Limiting Beliefs
Limiting beliefs are those thoughts, thoughts that we completely buy into, that hold us back. For example, and I’m using non-writing examples here to help make a point.
- Time is money
- You can’t buy happiness
- You have to work hard to get anywhere in this world
Limiting beliefs are formed through repeated thoughts, and the only reason they hold any weight is because you’ve decided or agreed that they are true. Maybe you heard them once, we’ve all heard the three examples I mentioned, and you decided that it was true. You gave them authority and then modified your thoughts and behaviors to support them.
Limiting beliefs for writers often sound like this,
- I can’t
- I’m not
- It won’t…
- I can’t write dialogue
- I’m not good at this
- It won’t get published
You get the picture. Limiting beliefs are powerfully unproductive. They can stop you in your tracks.
The trick is to identify those limiting beliefs and examine where they come from.
- When do you think the belief?
- What triggers it?
- Is it really true?
- Test it. Examine it.
And finally, just let it go. Easy, right?
Actually, if you move through the process of becoming aware of your limiting beliefs and examining their truth, letting them go is easier than you think. Try it. Next time you have a negative thought about your writing or abilities, stop and assess the thought. Look at it from a logical perspective – disconnect from it and evaluate whether it’s REALLY true.