(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)
I’ve talked a lot on this blog recently about negative feelings writers endure. Fear. Jealousy. Mood swings. It’s time to talk about something more positive. Today I want to talk about faith. Faith in yourself. Self-belief in your work as a writer.
It’s quite a difficult one, this, because there’s a fine balance between self-deprecation and arrogance. I’ve encountered both over the years. The first is that very promising and inherently talented writer who suffers from such low self-esteem that they believe everything they write is rubbish. They might have a literary masterpiece tucked away in their desk drawer, but no one will ever know because they never let anyone read any of their work, for fear of rejection.
Then there is the type of person who believes themselves to have talent that surpasses everyone else out there. They are the best writer that ever lived – if only someone would recognise their genius. Such people tend to be deluded as well as arrogant, as generally their writing is average at best, but they won’t hear any kind of criticism and often write angry letters to the agents and editors who have the audacity to reject them.
These are two extreme examples, of course. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. Maybe not literary geniuses, but not bad writers at all, and we lurch between feeling pretty good about what we’ve written and believing it to be a big steaming pile of poo.
But this is where faith comes in. Believe in yourself. Believe in your writing. Maybe you’re a beginner writer and you feel you’ve got a lot to learn. That is probably true. But keep reading, and keep writing. Talk to other writers. Go to conventions and conferences. Let more experienced writers crit your work, and take on board what they tell you. Your writing will improve all the time. And one day you will get published. Have faith.
Maybe you’re already a published author but you have lost your way in your latest work. Maybe you think you’ve lost the muse, and you worry that you’ll never write anything of publishable quality again. Have faith. Somebody thought your writing good enough to publish. Why would that go away? Nobody becomes a great writer overnight, but nobody becomes a rubbish one, either.
Keep the faith, my writer friends. And believe in yourself.