Confidence and Apathy: My Personal Achievements and Struggles with Writing

Totally arbitrary photo of hands typing. (Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com)

Totally arbitrary photo of hands typing. (Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com)

I’m not a very anxious writer. I’ve never really felt that borderline terror a lot of writers feel when they start submitting their work for editing. Sure, I hope that they like it, but I don’t get that worried, nervous, butterflies-in-my-stomach feeling that I get when, say, giving a public speech.

I just don’t feel that.

However, I know that a lot of writers do. So many, in fact, that my non-nervousness is not normal. I am very definitely in the minority in that regard.

For me, when I submit something, as soon as I hit that send button, it’s like a switch goes off in my brain, and I just quit thinking about it. It’s out of my hands.

Perhaps it’s just hubris, but I don’t worry about what people may think of me. (At least, not when they’re basing their opinions of me on my writing.) The people who I want to know me already do, so if I write something completely dumb, I know that they know that’s not who I am. And for everyone else—well, if they come to erroneous conclusions about me based solely on what I’ve written, well, they don’t know me. And I don’t care about what they think, anyway.

I think that, in a way, this is because I’m a new writer. I’ve really only been writing for myself since June 2011. I’ve got this “new writer” syndrome—where I feel like, since I’m new, it’s okay to not really know what I’m doing. I’m just playing around with the written word.

Also, I’ve honed a lot of my craft not through stories, but by literary papers and essays and lots of lots of editing in college. And if you think that some nobody on Amazon.com can give you a scathing review, let me introduce you to one of my professors. Developing a thick skin was mandatory in her class. (Especially because she tended to criticize not just her student’s writing, but their beliefs, their intelligence, and on occasion, their self-worth. I had an entire semester with this woman—I have skin of steel).

So writing fiction seems practically effortless in comparison. My advice, for those of you whom feel that heart-wrenching terror when it comes to sharing their writing, is to take a deep breath (and maybe something alcoholic), and repeat to yourself: “No matter what they say, they are speaking to my writing, not me. There are people in my life that love me already, just for who I am, not because I write well. And anyone else that tells me differently doesn’t deserve my time and attention.”

It takes time and effort to worry about something. Channel that energy into people that deserve it.

Of course, this goes hand-in-hand with my greatest weakness.

I’m sloppy.

Since I don’t care what people think, I don’t sit and fret and rework my writing until it’s absolutely flawless. And while, yes, I can see how not doing that keeps me sane—not to mention keeps my blood pressure nice and regular—but what it ultimately means is that as soon as I mash out all the plot holes and keep the story coherent, I hit send.

And that’s sloppy.

It’s something I know I need to work on, and I am actively trying to do so. It’s not fair to the people that read and edit my work to read something less than my best, because whatever comments or edits they make are things I could have done if I had just read it through a couple more times.

In my defense, though, sometimes I just get really, really excited about what I’ve written, and need to share it right now.

So, yes. As is so true with the rest of my life, my greatest strength is also my greatest weakness. It’s a double-edged sword: confidence. All that I’ve really figured out thus far is that confidence helps keep me sane in the face of potential criticism, but too much of it makes me not care about the quality of my work. Which is bad. And I should work on that.

-Eris

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2 thoughts on “Confidence and Apathy: My Personal Achievements and Struggles with Writing

  1. It seems like no matter how many times I read over an entry (including reading it out loud several times) before hitting ‘send’ there is still an error or to that I don’t catch until it’s already in the subscriber’s in box. Sure, I do the quick edit, but it’s already out there. So, so human! And that prof doesn’t belong in the classroom. Being tough on students is one thing – crushing spirits another.

    • I can’t say that, had I had known how bad the class was going to be, that I would’ve taken it. However, I don’t actually regret it, because I did develop quite the thick skin! (But yes, I agree with you; that teacher was terrible.)

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