In response to last week's post about creativity, a fellow WritingStrides follower sent me this quote:
"...one cannot be creative and self-conscious at the same time."
So true! Yet it can be so easy to feel self-conscious. There's the moment you first tell someone you're a writer and they ask, "Would I know your work?" If you're not a New York Times best selling author, that question can make you feel small.
Then there's the first time or (or eight hundredth time) you read your work out loud at a workshop or share a piece with a reader. What if it's not as good as you'd hoped? I also see self-consciousness right before writers sign up for a class or a coaching program or find a friend to read their novel. A split second of hesitation. And then? It's gone.
A transformation takes place as soon writers immerse themselves in writing and figuring out how to tell a specific story. They become energized and uplifted.
THE KEY TO FEELING CONFIDENT AS A WRITER IS TO FOCUS ON TELLING A SINGLE STORY AT A TIME.
I frequently give readers feedback on their writing, and every single time I am amazed by the energy I hear in their voices after they've read through my thoughts. I know the anxious anticipation that comes with waiting for feedback. Checking email too many times. Avoiding it all together. Wondering what you'll hear, even as you try to focus on spreadsheets at work or on what your friend is saying over coffee.
But once you've moved beyond that anticipation, and once you have specific feedback on how a story is coming across, you have specific questions to ponder.
~What drives a character to make the choices she makes?
~What new scene might show how she's changed or grown over the course of the story?
~Is it possible that the beginning or ending could be changed?
Rather than feel self-conscious about your work, you become immersed in the details of your story and how to shape it.
WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE THE ARCHITECT OF YOUR STORY, YOU DON'T HAVE SPACE TO FEEL SELF-CONSCIOUS.
You need to pick your partners carefully, of course, so that you feel supported and energized by their help. But I KNOW that if you engage in the process of telling a story, and if you engage in the practice of learning to see what's working well and what might need to change, you will forget about your fear. You will simply become a creator.
What story will you begin to shape?