Friday, 6 September 2013

Self-belief - an important aspect of the writing process

Me looking happy and confident - ties in with self-belief
From time to time, I see posts from people who want to write but are hitting some sort of roadblock - maybe making some progress and then something stops them. Or maybe they are just uncertain about what they are writing.

I don't think I really got into writing until I was in my thirties. As far as I can remember, I started blogging in 2007. Even though I got a Grade D in English - (seriously, why the f**k do they teach Shakespeare in schools?), I have a lot of confidence in my ability to write. Maybe the culmination of some crazy life experiences, an introverted and creative personality and a non-conformist attitude do help.

I think when it comes to writing, it's important to be passionate about it, and also believe that you have something to offer. Self-belief is crucial, because without it, you'll find a reason to give up somewhere on the writing journey. I guess I'm quite fortunate in that writing has been something that has flowed quite easily for me, but that said I have had plenty of areas of life where I have not been so confident, particularly when it comes to interacting and relating to people. So hopefully I am well placed to offer some guidance.



It may be true that some people have a more natural gift for writing. However, if you are REALLY passionate about writing .. and I mean in a way that writing makes you feel alive, then I do believe that your gift can develop over time. I am certainly a better writer than I was 5 years ago.

So I want to take a look at some steps towards belief in your writing abilities, and also things that can hinder self-belief.

KEYS TO SELF BELIEF

Photo of Lindley Wood Reservoir at night - to capture the imagination
1) That your unique way of expressing yourself has value - As I said in my previous blog post, it's important to be authentic. It's pointless to try and emulate someone else, this will erode your self-belief. We all have our own voice and also our own life experiences. These two things alone are very powerful. What is your own unique way of looking at the world? How do you express yourself authentically? Do you believe that you have a way of expressing yourself that is amazing? Is there a particular subject that you can write about really well? I would also say - don't confuse all this with perfectionism. Even if your writing starts off a little raw, that is okay.

2) Passion - I've already mentioned about being passionate and I think this definitely ties in with self-belief. It's just so much easier to write about things that you are passionate about. Your writing will flow more naturally. How do you express passion through writing? There are so many things that people can write about. What do you enjoy writing about the most? You will know when you have found your niche.

3) Allowing your experiences to make you better, not bitter - A lot of artists have had difficult lives. Good writers can definitely be born out of hard times, of that I'm sure. But it's important to remain open hearted and to allow strength of character to come out of these hard times. This strength can definitely come out in writing. Don't write about anything just to get people to sympathise with you or to try and make your readers know how evil someone is. I do believe that life experience is a powerful factor when it comes to writing. And if you can use these experiences in a positive way, it can have a good impact on your writing (as well as life in general).

4) Believing that you are good at writing - This kind of ties in with point number 1, but in slightly more simplistic terms. The simple question is - do you believe you are good at writing?

There are more factors that could be mentioned, I expect. For me, the most significant of these is the first one. The value you attach to your own unique style of writing is so, so important. You need to believe that your writing ability is significant enough to provide something of good value which can help and inspire people, or just be an interesting read.

BARRIERS TO SELF BELIEF 

These are my own opinions - but I think that one of the biggest barriers to self belief when it comes to writing, is that people do not feel that they have anything really worthwhile to say or to inspire others with. You know, the feeling that your writing is just ordinary, nothing special. Perhaps for some people there is also hidden underneath, a fear of expressing themselves truly authentically and powerfully. A fear of being heard. It is important, as a writer, to believe, in fact KNOW, that you have something worthwhile to say. Whilst it's true that you shouldn't write just to impress your readers, it is definitely important to connect with other people through writing.

Back to this hidden fear of truly expressing oneself .. it's only just come to my attention but I think it's important to look at. It applies to all forms of art and creativity. The voice goes something like this 'What will other people think if you wrote like that? They won't want to know you any more. You've changed.' If you want to make a difference when it comes to writing, you have to not worry about what others will think. And you also must not be scared about expressing yourself powerfully. This can be a self-esteem issue along the lines of 'Who am I to express myself like that? I'm a nobody'.

Comparing your writing to others has to be another self-belief buster. Along with the false view that you need to achieve something such as having a book published, in order to be good at writing. I once read somewhere 'Don't think that you will be the next JK Rowling. You won't'. I kind of think 'why not' and don't feel that it is particularly helpful to say things like that. But why do you need to be the next JK Rowling anyway? You just need to do and be the best you can, and see what transpires from there. As I've said already, there's no point trying to copy someone else's style - sure you can pick up tips from the experts, nothing wrong with that. But don't try and measure up against others. If you are passionate about writing, then you will discover your own wonderful style and voice.

Are you a writer? Or do you want to be? What do you believe about your own writing? Do you come up against obstacles when writing, and are not quite sure what they are? If there is anything I can help with to increase your belief in your writing, let me know.

To your success, in writing, and life in general
Andy

3 comments:

  1. Hi Andy good post. As my life is so unconventional, talent wise, I do feel writing comes more easy to me than anything else. Like you it has been a mechanism for self growth, letting my own introvert out on the page, a source of healing. I think it was Julia Cameron that said you are a writer whether you are published or not, you are an artist whether you are being paid or not (my summary of what I read), so the being paid does not make any difference. It is hard to believe this when most of your family relate to payment so as I write they don't take what I do as seriously as others in my family who get paid to do what they love. Its hard to get the balance.

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  2. Yeah, the last thing you mention is a bit of a tough one, I can understand that. Easy to say that it doesn't matter whether you get paid for what you love and yes you are a very talented writer, but I guess you may sometimes have a feeling of injustice - I know I would. Great quote from Julia Cameron (assuming it is her) - we are all artists :)

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    1. Yes, some day I will feel the balance on that, as I am becoming more present it won't affect me nearly as much. Thank you on my writing.

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