Writer's Confidence Has Abandoned Me: Guest Blog

MindyMinix I'm more than honored to have Mindy from the Mindy Minix blog stop by and talk to us about confidence—something many writers have hidden far, far away. Today, Mindy is going to help you uncover it. You can learn more about Mindy and her adventures in motherhood and freelance writing here

I am a writer.

I am a writer.

I am a good writer.

This is my mantra as I type up one query email after another. I’m used to writing cover letters to accompany applications on the site I use as a freelancer. I have found my voice and my confidence as a writer in that context.

For some reason, though, this is different. I’m not convincing someone I’m the person for the job in these emails. I’m trying to convince someone who sees hundreds of submissions that I’m not only a good writer, but also that this exact piece will be the piece they need to make their publication interesting. I am what they need to engage readers, to make their publication—ahem—please excuse me.

I think I might have vomited a bit in my mouth.

How can I honestly believe I wrote something better than the other 967 pieces that have been submitted? It gives me heartburn every time I hit the send button.

As I write piece after piece with the intent to submit each one, I find myself cringing with each casual turn of phrase I type. What I wrote above (the “ahem” portion in particular) is just not classy enough for publication. I need to sound smart, wise, and evolved. Before I begin writing, I need to outline the piece.

I need to know the intended direction of each sentence and—oh, look! My daughter just beat the castle on world four of Super Mario 3D World on the WiiU. How impressive! I would like to play Mario. What was I saying? Oh, yes, that’s right. I was whining again about my terrible submission pieces that should never see the light of day. Maybe my lack of focus is killing my piece.

This is the abbreviated version of what goes on inside my head while I am writing a submission piece:

I will have to revise it one more time. You know, I don’t have to submit it tonight; I could let it marinate for a day and then edit it again. Or, better yet, I will just delete the whole thing and start over. It was boring anyway. Okay, now, what will I write about? I know, I have the perfect idea! (Cue the typing sounds) Did I just switch voice? I went from sounding sincere to a know-it-all in the span of a sentence. Delete! Wait, it isn’t voice; it’s called tone, I think. Maybe I should Google it real quick. Yep, I definitely switched tone, not voice. If I don’t know the difference between tone and voice, how do I know that any of what I just wrote is grammatically correct? Delete!

If I could learn to quit hitting the delete key, I suspect I would end up with several wonderful pieces from which to choose. I might even end up with a piece I like.

If I can pass anything on to my fellow writers, I would just like to say: quit being so hard on yourself. Is it the end of the world if the piece isn’t the most sophisticated, grammatically perfect thing you have ever written?

There are people in the world who can edit your piece, you know. Hint, nudge, wink—you are in the right place to find an editor, right this second. And no, I do not mean me. It is pretty hard to convince someone else that you are a good writer when you can’t convince yourself.

If you need to steer away from that delete key, give these steps a try:

  1. Start convincing yourself. Go back to the pieces you like and read them again. Don’t pick them apart, just read them.
  2. Hire an editor. Send her a couple of your best pieces. See what she says. Most of us have blind spots. There is something we are doing that we haven’t even noticed because we (I really mean me, but that’s not the point) are too busy tearing apart the piece because of a shift in tone or a possibly incorrect use of a comma or hyphen or—you get the point.
  3. Submit, submit, submit! Don’t give up! Eventually, someone will say yes.

Now, if I could just follow my own advice.

Wife, mother, and freelance writer, I have been writing since I was 11, but I have been a freelance writer for a year. I quit my day job in September to pursue writing full time. It has been wonderful and terrifying, usually simultaneously! I was originally an English major in college with the goal of becoming a writer, but I switched to a health science degree because I didn't think it was possible to earn a living as a writer. Now, I'm finally beginning to earn a living while living out my lifelong dreams!