Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Do You Trust Yourself?

I'm off to Comic Con today, but as I was up late getting everything ready, I heard something TV that made me think about this, so I had to put together a quick post.

Whether you're on your first book or your fiftieth book, whether you're starting out, agented, published, or anywhere in between, you can't escape the fact that as you pursue this difficult career of being an author, you will have to trust yourself.

Family and friends might tell you you're crazy to try to be a writer. CPs might give you revision suggestions you disagree with. Agents or editors may not connect with your story or characters they way you'd hoped. But in the end, it comes down to you. It's your project. Your dream. You have to trust yourself.

Now, I'm NOT saying you should dig in your heels and stubbornly cling to your own opinions and ideas--that's a surefire recipe for failure. We all have a LOT to learn, and we should definitely consider each suggestion or piece of advice very carefully before we decide to ignore it.

But this is a subjective business--like anything creative--so at times you're going to have people dislike or disagree with a choice you made, a personal style, etc. And sometimes you may not necessarily be wrong. So it comes down to trust. Trusting yourself, your idea, and your abilities. And I'll tell you right now: it. is. not. easy.

I tend to be very insecure, very prone to self doubt and quick to think everyone else knows better than I do. And most of the time they do. But sometimes I'm not completely in the wrong.

I try to remind myself of something that happened in film school. I must've had a lot more gumption back then, because when I pitched my intermediate project to my professor he was NOT enthusiastic about it. Basically he told me to abort mission. But I had a feeling that a big part of the problem was that he wasn't seeing what I was seeing--and I was convinced that if I just went ahead with my plan and showed him what I was thinking, that I would win him over.

So I did. And on our first round of dailies (where we screened the footage we'd shot over the weekend to the entire class) he actually said: "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think this project is going to work." I ended up getting an A.

Obviously that story could just as easily have had a very different ending--and I'm not saying that if you trust yourself you're always going to win people over. Sometimes you don't. Ask any author and they will tell you about all the heartache and rejection they endured to reach their dream. It's inescapable.

But trusting yourself is how you survive. Each query that leads to a rejection means you send another. Each time your CPs go to town on your pages you revise again. Each draft you decide to shelve because it's not quite 'good enough' means you write another, better one. You keep going, trusting that you are a good enough writer to make it. Trusting that you will get where you want to be.

It's difficult to do. But remember, if you don't trust yourself, who will?

So how about you guys. Do you trust yourselves? And how do you find the confidence to keep trusting yourself, when things get hard?


  1. I haven't sent any queries or partials out to agents yet, so I can't comment on what I would do if I were to receive negative feedback there.

    However, I always make sure I'm in the right frame of mind before I send anything to a beta. If I'm looking solely for praise, I know I'm not ready. If I don't get it, I crumble and blindly do everything the beta told me to do. If, though, I know my WIP inside and out, what works and what I know needs a little help but I can't figure out what, I send it out. That way I can look at any feedback objectively and not get carried away when someone says to change something I particularly liked.

    Have fun today! :D

  2. Great post! It's definitely a roller coaster ride for me right now--sigh.

    Have a great time at comic con!

  3. Oh the dreaded trust issue. When you find the secret will you let me in on it. I trust my writing to the point where I think it's good enough. Even through revisions and final draft. It's the querying process and the rejections which lead me into that self-doubt where I want to chuck the whole world.

    Fantastic post

  4. Great post. I tend not to trust myself enough. But you're right. What others think of a manuscript is so subjective and often conflicting. I'm going to trust myself more. I think I'll enjoy the journey more.

  5. I don't trust myself when it comes to grammar. It also depends on the novel. For one of my WIPs I tend to take most of the suggestions, which is why i;m on draft 12 and it's taken me 3 years to write it.

    But my other WIPS I feel more confident about.

  6. Yes. I also trust my agent and editor, who know where I'm trying to head, to get me there.

    The whole teamwork aspect of publication is beautiful.

  7. Me and myself have a love hate relatinship. I often trust my gut but then there's this little part of me who shines a skeptical eye, like 'do you really believe you'll be able to pull this off?' PS- I want comcon pics:) lol.

  8. There is such a delicate balance between trusting ourselves and being blinded by our love for our stories. I was just having this discussion with my husband the other day. Hmm...the one thing I know is that I always want to remain humble. I don't ever want to 'trust' myself so much that I can't see what's before my eyes. Really, it's a stupid fear. I'm constantly second-guessing myself. Ugg.

  9. Trust in myself changes on an hourly basis. lol.

    Have fun at Comic Con! Take lots of pics--especially in your Rainbow Brite costume. ;)

  10. Oh well done with trusting yourself and going with your instincts and getting an A from winner over your professor!!

    I made the mistake of ignoring my gut feeling about my current WIP when I first let it out to be critiqued and just followed everyone's suggestions and re-writes - all of which just got me most confused and I lost heart.
    Now I've revived this WIP - and have only kept the critiques that were most useful to me.

    So I so agree - listen to good advice by all means but always always trust yourself first!

    Take care

  11. Trusting yourself can be hard sometimes, but really we're in this by ourselves. Sure we have crit partners, etc., but at the end of the day it's just us and our words, so we have to learn to trust. So I do. I trust myself to know what's best, and to listen to others when I think they're saying the right thing, too.

  12. Good question. It's hard. I'm a newbie so I assume (usually correctly) that everyone else knows more. But I also follow my gut when it yells at me. :)

  13. I *try* to trust myself, but sometimes it gets a little difficult to do so. I like my stories but feel sometimes that I'm not the one meant to write them. Maybe someday I will open a huge writer's idea bank, and authors more awesome than I am will use the ideas to write great novels!

  14. What a fantastic post, Shannon, on something I definitely struggle with - because I usually look to outsides for validation, whether it's my editor or my critque partner. I hold my breath waiting for them to tell my if it's good or not, always afraid they'll come back and tell me it's rubbish (they don't, but why am I always terrified they will?). Yes, we need to listen to feedback but you are SO right - trusting ourselves and having confidence in our ability is an integral part of the process.

  15. You know your blog is one of the first things I read every morning and it has taken me all day to comment. I am not sure what to say...except I have good days and bad days with this concept. I know I should trust myself and most of the time I do but it can be shaken a little.

    But I think maybe I need that because it makes me look closer at my work. I trust that this is what I am meant to do and it makes me happy all the way through.

    Seriously did not mean to rhyme that but now I'm leaving

  16. have fun!

    gave you a blog award today :)

  17. I've always trusted myself, with the belief that I can always improve my writing and not every single critique or opinion can be applied to my work.

    Before my book deal I told very few people that I wrote. Out of those few, two were always rushing me, wondering why nothing was happening, which made me even more tight-lipped. This was my own personal struggle. Also, I always believed that when the time was right and my writing was good enough, things would happen.

  18. I trust myself, most of the time, and when I don't I take a step back and ask myself why. And I don't make a decision until I trust myself again.

  19. Oh also I have an award for you over at my blog.

  20. Great advice. I'm working on learning to trust myself and my writing. It's not always easy, especially when you mired down in the "I really suck at this" moments.


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