When you first begin to write you learn a lot about yourself. Certain themes and plotlines seem to appear and I know it points to something within my subconscious. Sure you can purposefully have a theme to a story, but sometimes things just appear that makes you think “Why do I keep writing about that topic?” Another thing I’ve learned over the past few months is that I have little to no self-esteem and lack confidence in my writings. It is so damn clear to me now that I’ve wondered how I was in denial about it for so long. No matter what sort of feedback I get on my writing the truth is clear: In my mind I still suck at writing. And to me I’m horrible at it.
My grand plan (if you could call it that) was to post short stories and chapters on my old blog, which was repurposed for its new mission. The idea was to get some feedback on what I was writing and to snowball that into self-confidence going forward. If I had enough people — ya know like five or ten — tell me my stuff wasn’t total trash I would have enough validation to continue writing. Just a handful of support and I could channel that into pure confidence going forward. I could hold onto it as a cherished gift and always have this initial support to fall back on in times of need. I imagine the established author who has sold over a million books: this person will never run out of confidence because they have that shining badge that they can always look towards as proof that they’re actually good at what they do. A little feedback would serve to be my shining badge in a way. Or so I thought.
Naturally, I started thinking I would fail from the start, which is a big red flag in terms of self-confidence that also should’ve been apparent. Surprisingly, after posting the first few chapters I had tons of positive feedback. I was shocked. Some people would ask me if they could be in my stories. Others gave feedback in the form of blog/Facebook post likes and comments. I mean why would people like and comment if they didn’t like the work? Would people really do that to feign support? And one of the best signs of not sucking was when one of my “fans” (she called herself that. I’d never call people who read my stuff “fans”) mentioned to someone else that I was a good writer. You don’t recommend stuff you hate to other people. Overwhelmed with actual positive feedback, I was set right? Free to write with all the confidence I needed to push through chapter after chapter and finish a book. It sounded like my plan was a soaring success.
OF FUCKING COURSE NOT! The plan was a miserable failure. What would happen was a wildly successful post would be followed by a not-as-successful post and instantly my brain would conjure up reasons for everything successful to be a fluke. Just me getting lucky for some reason or another. No, success was never from actual skill. Failure is my natural state, and anything other than that is an accident. Maybe I just got lucky on the popular posts? Maybe people wised up to the fact that I’m not really good at writing and all my chapters are kinda samey? Maybe everyone dropped the facade of liking my stuff because it was exhausting to do so.
I try to be humble, but I feel walking the fine line between ego and being humble is difficult to do. I find myself erring on the side of caution by being humble and have always taken solace in that. Maybe I’ve gone too far? Maybe in trying to not be too cocky or egotistical, I’ve went to far in the opposite direction? Either way, being cocky and being confident two wildly different things. Is it that hard to be confident and humble? This doesn’t seem like a slippery slope to cockiness.
Just as an experiment, let me try to actually be confident for a moment, to try to weigh the positives and the negatives together. Once again, this isn’t meant to be a cocky “Haha, look at how good of a writer I am!” ego stroker. I just want to see if I can hype myself up for a few sentences. Maybe make a case for myself not being shit.
- This blog has about 600 views per month. These views are growing. When I first started blogging I was happy to get 5 views in a month. This means I’m doing something right.
- One of my college English instructors loved my papers, even using me as an example to the class a few times. She pointed out that I always asked questions as I wrote, kinda prompting the reader to think about things as well.
- Another English instructor suggested I go into technical writing because my research paper was so goddamn awesome apparently.
- I won two seperate writing awards in college. Not being a writer I decided to YOLO a few submissions and took third and second place. I won $50 from writing an essay about what college meant to me. I hammed that essay up so much. It was the first money I’ve earned from writing. The other award wasn’t very rewarding: I had to read that essay (about improving our community) aloud in front of like fifty people.
- I’ve self-published two ebooks on Amazon (blog post about that mess here) that have netted me a whopping
$0.11$0.60 in royalty payments. Woah!
- Someone mentioned that my writings sound very “conversational” as if I’m actually having a talk with someone. That’s good, right?
- A few coworkers have used my posts as a springboard to their own thinking and writings (the enlightenment post) and have told me their own thoughts on it. That means they had to get something useful from it, right?
- Lastly, the general positive feedback from people who have read my stuff.
So now why do I suck? Is there any concrete reasons to suspect sucking?
- I’m not wildly successful. I haven’t sold thousands of books yet.
- Other people’s blogs are more popular.
- My past few chapters haven’t had any positive feedback on them.
- And. That’s it.
- This isn’t a long list…
- *thinking very hard*
(Big Note here on how my negative points arise from comparing myself to other people. I obviously know this is a mistake but do it anyways. Oof.)
Thinking about this as objectively as possible leads me to believe that, hey, maybe I don’t fucking suck at all. But my brain doesn’t work this way! Even after typing all of the positives I have to look back on I only felt better for about ten minutes before feeling awful again. Brains are emotional things, and I’m apparently an emotional person. None of this shit matters because somehow a thought randomly appears in my mind that makes me think I’m terrible at writing. It doesn’t even take negative feedback: my brain can tear itself down all on its own! It’s a superpower I didn’t want but am somehow stuck with.
So this isn’t such a whiny post, are there ways to have a little more confidence in regards to writing? Firstly I should probably not worry so much about viewers/likes/numbers. I’ve recently read a blog post stressing this same point. (Vee over at Millenium Life Crisis always has great and informative content.) Secondly, stop worrying about beating the mythical “other people” because all that matters is your own progress. Maybe I can internalize that if I try hard enough. Another thing that sort of helps seems to be reflecting on the past; those 600 views a month sure mean something, and if I put myself in my past frame-of-mind I find myself thankful and proud of the progress I’ve made. Lastly, just keep writing! Even if I do feel like I suck, that doesn’t mean I have to give up. Ya know, progress forward just to make progress.
Closing Note: If it wasn’t obvious, I’m not trying to farm approval or validation with this post. If that isn’t clear I fucked up somewhere. The point wasn’t to whine until people came to support me, but to point out the clear issue of me lacking confidence. It’s a problem I really need to work on. If you did like this post, great! I won’t turn down feedback in any form. But I’m not trying to get a pity-party going on here either.