Here’s a secret about a lot of writers, or maybe just humans. We have fragile egos.
We crave positive feedback, and when we don’t get much (or any), we’re often struck by a feeling of “I’m not as good as [fill in name of admired author here].” Some people call this “imposter syndrome.”
A Gary Larson cartoon (shown here) above my desk captures that feeling. It’s entitled “Sheep authors,” and shows a sheep at a desk throwing papers in the air; crumpled papers cover the floor and an overflowing wastebasket. The sheep is saying, “Forget it! Forget it! Everything I write is just so much bleating!”
Sometimes before sitting down to write a post, I read through some of the other blogs I follow. This isn’t necessarily a good way to start, because you fall into the trap of feeling not as clever, funny, smart, etc. as those admired bloggers.
Just this week I was having that feeling when I came across a post by James at Men With Pens on “How to feel consistently confident about your writing.” James says:
Those seven words [“I wish I could write like that”] can plant a dangerous seed in the mind of even the most accomplished authors, making them second-guess their abilities and wonder if they’re really cut out for this writing business after all. And what begins as a tiny sliver of self-doubt takes on a life of its own.
James has some great suggestions, including writing down every good thing anyone has ever said about your writing. My version of this is what I call my “glory” file. I have a digital file, where I copy snippets of praise to read through when I haven’t received any lately. There’s also a paper file folder, where I put any rare-these-days notes or cards.
So taking James’ advice, I read through a few of the comments. I also looked at my sheep cartoon and smiled. OK, I feel better.