Recently, a discussion took place with some ladies I know. One of them felt very discouraged that she couldn’t get her loved ones to believe in her dreams. They seemed intent on pointing out all the obstacles and couldn’t share her vision. It’s a situation I understand well, because I have been there myself. I have been the dreamer who could not get anyone else to believe, and I’ll share with you what I learned on the way to becoming a published author.
Discouragement and Insecurity Are Normal
In Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends & Influence People, he wrote, “Bitter criticism caused the sensitive Thomas Hardy, one of the finest novelists ever to enrich English literature, to give up forever the writing of fiction. Criticism drove Thomas Chatterton, the English poet, to suicide.”
Every writer faces discouragement and insecurity. Finding a support system helps you fight them. In spite of the picture which is often painted of writers holed up in some room all by themselves scribbling furiously – and there is some truth to that picture – it is equally true that the successful authors I have spoken to all had a support group they belonged to that could offer them constructive criticism, meaningful feedback, and encouragement to continue.
Belief Begins With You
It’s hard to hold on to a dream when nobody around you shares your vision. It’s a natural tendency to be hurt or even bitter about the people you love who don’t share your faith that this vision can become a reality. You can spend a lot of time telling yourself that you can’t write because they don’t believe in you, but here’s the honest truth:
You won’t convert anyone if you don’t believe in your vision enough to take action. They don’t have your vision. They are blind to the possibility. You have to lead them to belief by showing them how to believe.
If you’re surrounded by people who don’t believe in your dream of being a published writer, understand that their disbelief is caused by the lack of evidence they see to support the possibility of your vision. Give them the evidence that you can do it, and they will begin to share your belief with you because they will see the proof that it is possible.
Join a Group
Don’t try to walk this journey alone. Join a group of people who share your vision and who are equally committed to reaching it. You won’t have to convince them that what you believe is possible can be done because they are already convinced. They are the people who will understand best your uphill journey, and the discouragement you face in getting it done.
If you live in a major metropolitan area, chances are there are a lot of writer’s groups to choose from and your chances of finding one near you is very high. Ask around at book shops, or look on sites like meetup.com to find them. If you live in a small town, there might not be an active writer’s group. You can start one, something I’ll explain how to do in the next blog post.
If you can’t get one started or if you can’t find one to join, you can always join my 40 Day Writers group on Facebook. It’s free, and you don’t have to worry about finding a meeting time that works for you.
Put Yourself Out There
Maybe you’ve tried sharing things with your family or friends and gotten less than helpful results. Family usually falls into two groups: the ones who think everything you do is amazing and the ones who think nothing you do is ever right. Friends are more likely to be honest with you, but may not be helpful because they don’t know what you need to hear in order to make improvements.
Bad experiences with family or friends can make you reluctant to share your writing with other people. However, the simple truth about writing is that you will never know how good your writing is until you put it in front of other people.
Start with your writers group and share something you’ve written. If it’s a good group, they’ll be honest but not brutal and will do their best to encourage what is good about your writing.
When you get confident enough, put together a blog and start writing something at least once a week. See how many subscribers you can gain and look at which articles get the most attention to figure out what kind of things your audience enjoys most.
Learn from Criticism
When I published my first book, How to Write an eBook in 40 Days (or less), the first reviews were very positive, and it was really encouraging. I was devastated when I got the first negative review. The reviewer basically said that I’d added nothing to the conversation about how to write a book.
The criticism bothered me, so I went back and added some content to the book. I still wasn’t satisfied. I am right now in the process of re-writing that book for the third time, and even though I’m not finished yet, the material is so much better than anything I had in the first book. And I owe that all to a single person giving my book a negative review.
Criticism isn’t a stop light. It’s a caution light. It’s a reason to look over what you’ve written and see what you could do to improve. So learn from it.
Begin by assuming the person who took the time to review your work is genuinely interested in helping you make your writing better. They may not be, but start there because that gets you in a more receptive mood.
Ask them questions to clarify their statements. What did they mean by…? Try to understand their position, even if you don’t end up agreeing with it. If the criticism is that you didn’t include something they wanted, that’s a tip that you can use to write another piece or make your next piece on the subject more appealing.
Above All, Don’t Quit
Writing is tough work, and there will be times when it feels like you aren’t making any progress. Don’t use that as an excuse to quit. If your writing isn’t getting the results you want, re-evaluate it. What is it missing or what could you include to improve it? Research the issues. See what other writers have to suggest. And redouble your writing efforts. Put in more time writing and try new things.
Whatever you do, don’t let discouragement steal your dreams. Don’t let your insecurities rob you of your vision. You do have what it takes and you can learn to overcome the obstacles in front of you.