Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Believe In Yourself

This time around I'm going to talk about something a bit less tangible, something that I can't really give precise instruction for. But I've been a writer for well over 25 years and I think this is something writers just need to hear.

The power of what you belive in relationship to your writing and your career is amazing. And, what you do, how your career moves forward, hinges greatly on what you believe about yourself.

I'm not trying to be some sort of motivational guru here or to tell you to put your trust in god - that part is up to you, whether you do or don't.

Here's what I'm talking about. If a writer buys into the belief that publishing is an impossible industry in which to make a living, then that belief, that thought process, will keep that writer desperate and more than likely poor.

But, if that writer changes the way he thinks and focuses on the strengths he posesses then the change kicks in.

Shed the belief that you're just a lowly writer. Reject the thought that you don't understand the business and you have to do what you're told. Believe instead that you can  have a great life as a writer.  One that's fulfilling, fun and yes, profitable.

So what do you as a writer do to attain this state of grace? 

For one thing you learn.  You learn about the publishing business as you go and nothing is too unimportant to take an interest in. You take the time to learn to read your royalty statements and understand what it means. You read you contracts, even if you have an agent, and you undertstand what the clauses in them mean. If you don't at first, ask until you do.

Accept the fact that while  your writing is your  joy and your breath it is also a business.  Understand  you'll make mistakes, and yes, some of them may cost you, but that's okay, you'll learn and not simply whine that someone shafted you.

Understand what you can and cannot control.  Example: you can write whatever story you want and take whatever amount of time you need to do it.  But if you want it published by a certain house or in a certain way (hardcover, paperback, audio) and win awards by the dozens, that isn't in your control. 
The editor you worked with left for a new publishing house and the new editor hates your writing.  That's not in your control. 
The manuscript you love and slaved over and perfected gets an extremely low evaluation in a contest you entered.  That's not in your control either. 
And my favorite, been there, done that: your agent loved your book, has just begun sending it out - goes bankrupt and closes his doors. Yup, not one you can control there either.

So, where lie the writer's strengths?

You can reject a bad contract (no matter how desperate you are)

You can listen to criticism, then decide what really needs changing and what doesn't- then do it.

You can write!

You can submit your work directly to editors or to agents or both.

You can enter suitable contests.

You can work on your own marketing plan - yes, you the author need to market your book no matter what the publisher does.

You can research all the ways today offers toward publication - big publishing houses, small presses, print on demand, Epublishing with publisher, audio books, self-publishing with Kindle or Smashwords or others. You can decide which route to take.

You can do much more as well.

What else?  You can believe you're smart enough to learn what you need to know to succeed.  Others have done it, so can you. 

And biggest of all, believe in yourself.  It isn't true anyone can tell a story and do it well.  Belive in your ability to do it.  Understand your gift is unique. Don't for one minute believe you can be replaced by any other writer coming along behind you, and don't let publishers or agents tell you that is true.

Luck is not in control of your writing life, you are. Luck can play a part, but you have to be aware of your abilities and who you are and be ready to take advantage of opportunities.

So take this advice to heart. Belive in yourself.  Believe in your abilities, persist and take positive action.

That's the cheerleading for today.  Hope it helps.


  1. Great post! Do you follow P.N. Elrod or Victoria Strauss on Twitter? They also encourage and spread the word about publishing dangers through"Writer Beware"

  2. Thanks. Yes, I follow Victoria Strauss on twitter. You can find me on twitter as well, if you haven't already...just click the follow me button.


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