Every author goes through a cycle of self-doubt and reflecting on why they started writing in the first place. This is especially true when you receive feedback on something you’ve penned.
Some of you have asked how you can keep your own voice, your own style, your own uniqueness in the writing when so many others have their fingerprint on it. I believe it all comes down to believing in yourself as the author.
That’s right. You. Are the author.
Does that mean the insight of others isn’t valuable? Of course not. You just have to know how to take what they’ve said and use it in your own way. How do you do this? How can you become that cat up there that is prancing through what is clear dog territory? How can you navigate the rejections, the critiques?
1. Be confident. You’ve chosen the words to tell the story. True, sometimes someone will have a better one. Change those. But you don’t have to change everything just because someone suggests it.
For example, just a few days ago, someone told me I used “walking” too much during the opening scene of my novel where two characters are walking through the park. She suggested “strolling”. Um, no. My MC doesn’t use words like “strolling”. So while that’s a fantabulous word, it wasn’t for my story. I didn’t change it.
2. Be confident. You’ve chosen the structure for your writing. True, sometimes someone will point out the awkwardness of your phrasing or the repetitive nature of your sentence structure. Pay close attention to that, modifying as you see fit. But you don’t have to change your entire style and structure because someone doesn’t like it.
For example, a while ago, one of my critmates told me it really bothered her that I never used “and” in a sentence with a list. Like this one: The presence soared in my soul, called to me, promised me no harm would come.
I know it’s grammatically incorrect. And I don’t care. It’s part of my structure. It’s part of the storytelling. It didn’t change.
3. Be confident. You’ve chosen where to start the story. True, sometimes you can’t see a better place and someone might have a better idea. Listen. Ponder. Perhaps try a rewrite. But you don’t have to start your story somewhere else just because someone wants you to.
I have several examples of this, but I'll abstain from sharing another example. Just suffice it to know that you have to have confidence in what you’ve put to paper. If you feel like your story is starting where it needs to, don’t change it.
4. Be confident. Receiving feedback on your writing can be a tough gig. Getting rejected (over and over) can deflate even the biggest of egos. My husband said something to me the other day that set me stewing. He said, “Why not you?”
Indeed, Mr. J.
That boosted my confidence back to the level it needed to be to continue down this winding path toward publication (despite the rejections and/or critiques). True, it’s a bumpy, sometimes dark and treacherous path, but I can learn what I need to learn. And you can too. When you believe in yourself, you’ll do what it takes to reach the end of the road. I firmly believe that if you put in the effort to hone your craft, you will find the confidence you need to find success.
And so I ask you, fellow QueryTracker blog readers and aspiring authors: Why not you?