Monday, April 29, 2013

The Confidence Challenge

The Confidence Challenge

"Are you a writer?"

"Well, I've written some. I'm actually a (insert profession here; contractor, receptionist, stay at home mom)... but I- yeah, I write." The words just get past your lips and fall, the pathetic little letters scatter about your feet and blow away with a puff of wind. 

While you polished your 'elevator speech' and pored over every word in query letters, a casual meeting catches you off your game, and out comes the truth! You're not a writer, you're a fake. You want to be one, but you're not quite there. You've written some articles, but that doesn't count.  

The truth is that you are writer, even if you're not published yet. You write, don't you? One of my teachers used to say, "We are writers, and now we shall write," to segue us into a creative writing session. 

I prefer people that struggle with their identity. I've met numerous writers who are quick to tell of their brilliance, have blogs about their craft, and are completely unteachable. Many have self-published, as the agents and publishers (the fools) have yet to gasp their excellent works, and they tell you of their writing conquests as piles of unsold books occupy their garages like stalagmites.  

You can't casually meet an agent, publisher, or even the man on the street without coming across like a schizophrenic. It might pay to work on a writer elevator speech that quickly and concisely communicates who you are and what you see as your writing skills. But the elevator speech isn't going to cut it if you don't believe it. You may want to perform some confidence exercises. 

Stand in front of the bathroom mirror, look yourself in the eyes, and declare, "I, _______, am a writer." Hold up whatever you may have published, even if it's a 200 word recipe. Leave it in the bathroom and do it every morning until your confidence builds and you believe in yourself. 

The worst place to feel like an imposter is at a conference. You enter the dining room and it's jammed with people talking- publishers, agents, and of course writers. Your confidence wilts. "What am I doing here?" Shake it off, take a deep breath and do it. You're a writer.

While at a conference, you've got to take risks. Start conversations at tables. Look around for people who are alone and chat with them. You find a solo fellow writer and she's writing a book about collecting bottles. What's that got to do with you? You can practice your writer elevator speech to her. Offer to practice your pitches to one another. 

You're not alone. There are writers out there- published writers- who feel like fakers because they haven't sold ten thousand copies, haven't won any awards, haven't gotten their favorite series published, and feel like posers. Ignore the poser in you. Get out there, wherever there is, and be yourself. Be a writer.

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