Sunday, October 15, 2017

Lack of Confidence: The Undoing of an Aspiring Author

The topic I wanted to discuss is something that most new writers deal with: CONFIDENCE!  Confidence isn't something that just comes automatically as a person continues to write.  Really, confidence, or lack thereof, is a result of an individual's interior health.  If one is insecure about themselves, even on a physical or material level, he or she will be more prone to doubt their abilities.  This can manifest a number of ways.  For some, who have never shared their work publicly, it can prevent them from showing others how uniquely talented they are.  For others, it prohibits them from reaching higher goals because of public opinion or creates limiting beliefs of what they're capable of.  Through this blog post, I want to discuss my understanding of how insecurities can block a writer from creating the breakout novel that is trapped in their mind.

People that write as a hobby or a profession tend to be introverted by nature.  It makes sense, since writing, at least in the initial stages, is a solitary task.  Writers can have periods of appearing as extroverts, especially when they meet fans at a book signing or are pictured on a red carpet, but really, it is a mask, a smile pasted on one's face until he or she can go back into their dark den and create.  These types of people live in an internal world that few can really appreciate because this inner world is rarely revealed.  It's a place where everything is felt deeply but little is vocalized.  Life is observed, rather than merely lived.  It is a place where everything is scribbled down in an almost meticulous way so that this can be expressed later through artistic outlets.  It is the creation of a whole universe, if only in one's mind.  This is the life of an author.

The mind is a powerful tool.  Each thought triggers a feeling that can bring happiness and, in contrast, depression and every emotion in between.  The mind is a place where introverts live, and if one is not careful, a place that they can become trapped in.  A mind that is in a negative space will create blockages that prevent a person from taking chances to improve their situation.  Something as simple as chasing a childhood dream can be analyzed, over and over, until it seems impossible.  Giving up is easy in this mind frame.  It is almost second nature.  A positive mind will nurture and foster growth, allowing an individual to chase success without fear, but a negative one will talk a person out of, even, the most brilliant ideas.  The mind can be a person's best friend or worst enemy, but it all depends on lived experiences and what it is fed.

Feeding the mind isn't an easy task when one is faced with many disappointments.  Insecurity stems from life experiences, whether someone said something harmful or a traumatizing life event triggered these feelings.  When someone has lived through some dark days, these instances can foster deep-rooted fear, creating feelings that one cannot surpass challenges in order to achieve a goal.  This is the birth of insecurity, this is the conception of a mentality of lack.  These thoughts can stifle a writer, especially when the creative process is sparked by the mind.

Fear, insecurity, depression, doubt, etc. are all the same.  The words are relatively interchangeable, all apart of the same mental cycle that keeps a person stuck.  Lack of confidence stems from a fear of being ridiculed.  That fear grows until one feels they can't complete their goal, and that is when the depression sets in.  When the mind is blocked or situations we face are unclear, inspiration can be blocked, not from a lack of ideas, but from an inability to think.  If there is no visible way to come out of the mind and face one's fears, surpassing challenges head-on, the passion will, eventually, be drained.  These manifestations of insecurity, these irrational fears, will hold a person back, not just from creating, but also, from moving towards one's happiness on a broader level.  If this "fear monster" grows without being combated, it will create depression, distance in relationships, lack of purpose, indecision, etc. in every aspect of one's being.  Fear is the dream killer, and the seed of fear, from which all else stems, is a lack of confidence.

So, how do you feed your mind the proper food?  I am still learning what it is to nourish the mind, but I look at the children in my life, and one thing I have observed is... they have no fear, especially the younger children.  We learn fear as we get older, but young children haven't been programmed to the extent that an adult has.  They haven't internalized disappointments, reliving them and creating inner demons.  Their memory isn't that long.  We can learn by seeing through the eyes of children.

Writing is supposed to be fun, it's an art form, but real-world problems and toxic thoughts can block expression.  One way to free the mind is to let go of the past, let go of disappointments, and instead, see them as opportunities for learning and growth.  You can't go back, the past doesn't exist anymore, so you can't live there, constantly trying to change it.  When a baby is learning to walk, they don't give up after they fall.  They know no fear.  They harbor no feelings of disappointment.  They try again without dwelling on what happened.  If you don't dwell on what went wrong, you will focus on what to do next; therefore, no blockages will be created.

However, if these feelings already exist, there are ways around them and through them.  One such way to overcome lack of confidence is to choose to be happy.  It sounds odd.  How does one choose to be happy?  Is happiness an option?  Yes.  Happiness is a feeling, that feeling can be evoked at any point in your day.  Scientific studies show that a simple smile releases happy endorphins that will give you a natural feeling of euphoria, preventing depressive thoughts.  The more you smile, even when you don't feel like it, the happier you will be.  The easier it will be for you to draw others to you, and who doesn't like to be the center of attention?  In this state, you are much more likely to feel better about yourself, this contentment within your being will extend to all aspects, including self-expression.

In order to truly arrive at the root of the problem, one has to understand the cause of the feelings in the first place.  What do you fear?  What are you unhappy with?  For example, if someone is overweight, they can experience depression that may make them find comfort in food, beginning a cycle which ends in more weight gain and depression.  This sense creates blockages.  If you are insecure, that feeling will grow tentacles and create further feelings of lack in other aspects of your life.  However, there's a way out.  If that same person changes the very thing that made them develop fear in the first place, like starting a workout plan and eating healthier, they will remove this thought pattern as the pounds melt away.  Insecurity must be identified to be dealt with, if at all.  No one can cure it for you.  If a man lacks confidence in his own manhood and worth, possibly because he was made fun of by friends in his childhood, he may look for the most beautiful woman that he can find, because in his mind, having that woman on his arm will give him that sense of his own value.  But men that do this are rarely happy.  Why?  Because no one can heal what is wrong inside of you.  You have to do that all by yourself, and no one wants to do the work.  At least, not at first.  Most prefer the idea of the quick fix, but if you can do one thing a day to change something you don't like, you can eradicate that gnawing feeling of being worth less than what you truly are.

Writing is my personal outlet.  I prefer to write than to speak.  It is easier for me as I am naturally shy.  When I was younger, this shyness was quite painful.  I had no problem making friends once I was approached, but I was always shaking on the inside.  I felt blocked from speaking my mind, at times, scared to fully express myself for fear of ridicule.  I wore a mask, a sometimes expressionless or serious exterior.  There was the mask I showed my friends and work colleagues.  I took off this mask when I arrived at home.  As an adult, speaking about how I felt because increasingly difficult, but to carry on with life, I buried those feelings deep down, tried not to shake, and did the tasks that I needed to do.  Then I could go home and be myself.  When I started writing, this shyness created blocks.  As a young girl, I never finished a story!  Finishing it would mean people would read it, judge it.  There is nothing more confidence-killing than a bad review for a writer.  I wrote so many great pieces of poetry that were unseen because the idea of showing others what I had written caused me anxiety.  By the time self-publishing became popular, I wrote the Weeping Willow stories.  I didn't suddenly develop the confidence to post them.  I honestly loaded them, closed my eyes, and while I was panicking on the inside, pressed the publish button.  It wasn't that the fear had vanished, it was that the passion I had for writing outweighed the fear I had at that moment.

How much do you want to write?  Even today, after publishing a few stories and novels, my insecurities remain.  I have doubts about my ability to create something really good, fears about my ability to expand, tremors over approaching people within the industry, anxiety over being too public, etc.  These feelings have held me back, but through acknowledging those fears, I can step towards eliminating them altogether.  That is what it will take to overcome these emotional barriers and write the next great bestseller.

So, if you to write, it is important to realize that publishing, whether traditionally or self-publishing, is a public forum.  Your art will be on display, receiving acclaim and criticism, but lack of confidence shouldn't prevent you.  Remember, fear is the dream killer.  Your confidence shouldn't be hinged on whether someone writes a scathing review.  Your confidence is born inside of you, not dependent on another.  Every time you leave your comfort zone and attempt to share your work, pat yourself on the back.  That is one step on a journey to success.