“One important key to success is self-confidence.
And one key to self-confidence is preparation.”
“When you work as hard as I do, having confidence is no problem.”
Jordan Burroughs, 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist in Wrestling
When my son Alex was a little guy, I remember taking him to a pool for a swimming lesson. He barely stuck one toe in the water before the instructor called out, “Good job!” I know she was just trying to encourage him, but he hadn’t actually done anything.
Over time, as Alex was growing up, I saw many instances where coaches and other adults would be overly lavish in their praise in their earnest efforts to build kids’ self-esteem. When this happened, I always remembered what a wise parenting expert once observed. In a talk on nurturing self-esteem, she said that kids need just two things to feel good about themselves: They need to know that they are lovable and capable.
Her comment sprang to mind when I started thinking about feeling confident when it comes to our writing. Here’s what I mean: How do kids learn that they’re capable? They find it out by doing: taking action and accomplishing things that are important to them. The same goes for us. How do we build confidence in our skills as storytellers? We do it earning that confidence through hard work and preparation. The harder we work, the better we feel about ourselves, and the better we feel, the more we do, and the more we do, the better we feel and the better writers we become.
In a nutshell, we create confidence through continuous, focused action. It’s the result of careful preparation, whether we are pulling together a first draft or researching agents as part of our submission strategy.
And when we feel more confident, we act more confidently out in the world. We find the courage to submit a story we feel proud of because, like Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs, the confidence we have in it flows from the hard work we know we’ve done to make it the best it can possibly be. We write our pitch letters to agents not from a place of wishful thinking, but from a place of strength, because we know the countless hours we’ve put into polishing our prose and plot until they sparkle and entice. We find creative ways to promote our self-published book because we know with core confidence that it will benefit readers.
Barry Farber, a bestselling author and media host (www.barryfarber.com), had this to say about what sometimes holds us back: “Why are we sometimes unsure? Because we don’t prepare enough, read enough, study enough, and work enough. Our strength comes more from knowing that we have put in the work and prepared for success than from what we learn from the actual preparation.” Something to ponder as we all write on