Blog Chain: The Confidence Trap

Man, I get a day off from work and I forget to get this post up! HA!! Oh well…that’s life, right?

It’s my turn on the Blog Chain today. It feels like forever since I’ve done one of these posts. Today’s question comes from Sandra, who asks:

What do you think your strengths and weaknesses as a writer are? Did you have to develop your strengths, or did they come naturally to you? How are you trying to overcome your weaknesses?

What a great question. And, as per my usual, I am going to take a slightly different spin on it.

For me, the challenge of writing hasn’t really been about the art of writing. That’s NOT to say that I’m a great writer. Sure, I know how to string a few words together and weave a story. But, I know I still have a lot to learn. 

What I am, however, is a natural storyteller and a high-achiever. Ever since I can remember, I’ve told stories to people, acted them out and tried to weave a little magic and drama into them. It’s no wonder that I now write stories and of course, try to bring a little tension and drama into them.

Being a high-achiever, I work hard at my pursuits. So, when I get feedback from a CP/Agent/Editor that something in my story doesn’t work, I learn how to make it better. I read exhaustively on the subject, practice until my fingers bleed and constantly self-reflect on my work. I truly believe that anyone who approaches things like this is going to get better at the craft.

So, for me, looking at strengths and weakness in my writing isn’t about the art of writing, but more about the attributes a writer needs to find sustainability in this business.

(predictable, right – I am always finding some way to talk about the psych aspect of something!)

My strengths in this field do involve my natural writing abilities and my passion to learn. They also include my tenacity and willingness to walk straight through my fears and doubts. These attributes provide the fuel I need when I hit rock bottom to get out of the pit. (You can read all about my journey through the pit here).

These attributes also lead to my weaknesses.

While I may be willing to walk straight through my fear and doubt, one of my biggest weaknesses in this field relates to the amount of fear and doubt I feel in relationship to my abilities in this field.

I know, it’s quite a dichotomy – knowing you are strong at something while simultaneously knowing that being good at something may not be enough.

It is a horrible vortex I get sucked into periodically, as any of you who know me know all too well!

So how do I deal with the negative self-chatter that clouds my brain from time to time and pushes away my muse?

Hmm, that’s a good question.

I guess I really rely on my friends – the ones who never judge and just accept me and my flaws so graciously. They alow me to vent, remind me when I am being ridiculous and force me back on track – regardless of whether or not I think I’m ready!

In addition to friends, I deal with my craziness through self-analysis and a lot of self-talk. Like this:

Me – Okay, Christine. Knock it off!!! You can do this, you can write another story.

Self – Yeah, but it’s hard. Really really hard.

Me – So. Since when were you afraid of hard. Do I need to remind you of the hard things you’ve already accomplished.

Self – No.

Me – Great. Then get to work.

Self – But…

Me – No “buts”! Work or I’ll get one of your friends to tell you all of this again.

Self – Don’t do that, I always sound so whiny.

Me – you know how to fix that…get to work.

Self – Fine.

{{Hmm, I probably shouldn’t have let you see that side of me…she’s pretty scary}}

Anyways, you get the point. For me, being a writer is so much more than the craft of writing. I work hard, every single day, to improve my skills at the art of writing. And I work equally hard, every moment of the day, to deal with my fears and doubts when it comes to my abilities. I really think that this will enabling get me to my goals of becoming published in both nonfiction AND fiction.

How about you? How do you look at your strengths and weaknesses as a writer? And how do you work with them?

For more answers from the blog chain, check out Shaun who posted before me, and Abby who posts tomorrow.

And be sure to come back Monday where I get to introduce the next topic. Hmm….what should it b? Must stew…

OH! And I am over on Michelle Davidson Argyle’s blog today, giving a little shout out for my publisher. Check it out!

14 thoughts on “Blog Chain: The Confidence Trap

  1. Catherine Johnson

    Great post that highlights feelings and attirbutes a lot of writers share. You hightlighted the most important thing and that is a network of writers who bring you up when you’re down, give you a pinch when you need it and keep you writing.
    Catherine

  2. I love this: “looking at strengths and weakness in my writing isn’t about the art of writing, but more about the attributes a writer needs to find sustainability in this business.” Such an important point. Gotta dig deep to find that person that belongs in this field–that person that you are. It’s a tough field, one in which, like you said, doesn’t come easily just because you’re good at it. So you have to be able to stick to it…sustain…get better and better. Until one day, the phone will ring and you’ll make it.

    Love the conversations with the self. Gives us great insight into you. Plus, I think it sounds remarkably similar to the ones I have with myself!😉

  3. Nice post, Christine!!

    It is hard to know you’re good at something, but that it might not be enough (to “win” the publishing game, that is). Happens to so many writers, I guess. And it’s hard for us high achievers to understand–a job well done deserves a reward, right? But the reward of being published doesn’t happen for all & certainly not right away. Talk about delayed gratification, eh??

    Boy, you really got me thinking!!!

  4. Ha! I was actually thinking about my strengths and weaknesses today! I kid you not!

    My strengths: I’m an excellent writer. Yes, I said excellent. Who has time for false vanity in this biz? It is what it is. I can write. I have a fabulous imagination and can pull ideas out of thin air and make a book out of them.

    But.

    I also seriously suck at torturing my characters. And yes, I said SUCK. I don’t keep my reader on edge nearly enough. I don’t know how to make those twists and turns that are so necessary to a fabulous story. I have some, and they’re great when they’re there, but it’s all too easy for my characters.

    So, my strengths are kind of useless while I have the weaknesses I do.

    BUT, I’m also like you (and honestly, I think the successful among us in this business are all like this) I am tenacious and I’m not a quitter.

    Great post Christine!

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