Unlike many of my writer friends, I didn’t major in English or decide I was going to be a writer at an early age. I’ve never taken a writing course, although I probably should. To date, my writing is limited to graduate thesis’, literature reviews, white papers, and grant proposals. While I do have short stories that have been published, I still feel like the odd man out.
Who am I to call myself writer? Sure, I can string two sentences together, but does that make my writing worthy of publication? Will readers think it’s junk? Will my author friends secretly laugh?
I often find myself wondering if I can make it as a writer. Now, I don’t mean “make it” in the sense of being able to support myself with my writing (although one can hope), but rather, will my stories be liked by my readers and peers. And I’ll bet I’m not the only one who feels this way (oh, please don’t let me be the only one!).
So how do we overcome our self-doubt?
For me, I find comfort in success stories from unlikely authors. Take John Grisham, for example. He was a practicing attorney for almost a decade and as far as I can tell, he didn’t set out to be a writer either. It wasn’t until he heard a story about a little girl that prompted him to write his first novel (A Time to Kill). And what about Kathy Reichs? She didn’t major in English either, but through her experience as a forensic anthropologist, she was able to expose us to a whole new methodology of crime solving – not to mention her sweet deal as executive producer on Bones, which is based on her series of books.
It was those stories that inspired me to pursue my secret passion to become a writer. Again, I had no background in writing, but I knew I was onto something back in graduate school – a paper discussing chaos theory, based on an article written by my professor. Now, I didn’t read the aforementioned article, but I still managed an A. That was my epiphany – only a writer can bulls#*t their way to an A. Right?
It took a few years for me to feel comfortable submitting any of my short stories for publication. My first attempts at writing novels don’t even occupy a shelf in my virtual files – they were trash and thus ended up where they belonged, in the recycling bin. But with every book I didn’t finish, I realized my writing only got better. Today, I don’t cringe when I go back and read pages written from the day before. Of course, it still has to be edited, but nothing that can’t be fixed.
One of the major advantages to ROW80 is that I can customize my goals to ensure I continue to grow as a writer. The great Stephen King said, in order to be a good writer, you have to write (and read) everyday. So in order for me to succeed, I know I have to write everyday and my goals are reflective of that.
Even if I don’t accomplish all of my intended goals, I know that just by setting aside time to write everyday, I can build my self-confidence enough to be able to stand by my writing – even if no one else thinks I can.