“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.” -John Steinbeck
I used to be afraid to tell people that I was a writer. I didn’t feel like I had yet earned the illustrious title, having no published works, no English degree, and my first book in long process. The words would stick on my tongue, refusing to come to life and people would go away none the wiser.
Why does it matter if people know? Why can’t I just be a closet writer, keeping my stories safe, close to my heart, where no one can see them until they are absolutely perfect?
Helen Keller summed up the answer quite nicely when she said,
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
I didn’t want to tell people that I was a writer, because I didn’t actually believe that I was, or that I ever could be. I had great desires to be published, for my story to be read by millions, for it to have impact, but lacked faith that it was actually possible.
It made me stagnant, the murky waters of my novel growing still and moldy in landlocked frustration. I wasn’t writing. I would sit at my computer, inspiration snuffed out by discouragement, and soon, I stopped sitting at my computer at all.
Without optimism, there is no achievement.
So you call yourself a writer? Yes. Absolutely yes.
When I finally got the courage to start telling people about my book (thanks to STRONG encouragement from my husband), I did not receive the derision, the skepticism, the incredulous laughter that I had expected, in fact, I was overwhelmed with the opposite.
People cannot support you, pray for you, or encourage you, if they do not know YOU!
Don’t be so afraid of what you THINK people will say about you. Don’t worry about what they will believe if you fail. We spend so much time fearing rejection, that even just the possibility of it keeps us from realizing our dreams! You may fail, failing is a reality of life that we all face at one point or another, but you can deal with that when that time comes. Don’t be so haunted by it, that you let yourself become ashamed of what you are striving for.
I guarantee you, people will admire your confidence, wishing they had been the ones brave enough to try.
Who is more likely to get published? A bad writer who gives it their all: chasing down leads, pursuing agents, brushing off rejection, proclaiming their goals with confidence and certainty? Or the great writer who hides their work away, feeling unworthy of the title?
What is it you want to be? Whatever it is, say it, claim it until YOU actually believe it.
The spoken word is a powerful thing. Whatever you say out loud, even if only to yourself, is what your brain is most likely to believe. Your mind latches onto these words, focuses on them, striving to bring them into existence.
In a scientific study performed on 72 undergraduate students playing basketball in their physical education class, it was shown that students who conducted verbal motivational self-talk (“I can” statements), prior to execution, passed the basketball faster than they could before. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042811008019)
What you say affects your performance, your thoughts, and even your beliefs. What is it you want to be? Do you want to be confident? Speak it. Do you want to be brave? Speak it. Do you want to be strong? Speak it. Do you want to be kind? Speak it.
I am a writer. What are you?