Friday, September 4, 2009

I am confident, hear me roar (or perhaps meow)

I am not a very confident writer. I know doubt much better than I know confidence.

I don't want to be like this, I promise you. And some of you are probably going to think - this should not be happening to you, Lisa, and you have the power to change it. But I don't know - is the ability to believe in yourself a switch you can turn on and off, just like that? I don't think it is, but maybe some of you think differently. If so, please share, and tell me how do it!

Quite a few authors I admire seem to be fairly confident in their abilities, so I know it's possible to be a writer AND to be confident.

But here's what I've been really thinking about as it relates to this confidence issue:

If I'm not confident in my abilities as a writer, are readers going to want to read my books?

Let's say I have a serious health condition, and I need to have surgery to try and correct said serious health condition. If I go to a surgeon and he doesn't appear confident in his abilities to do that surgery, guess what? I'm going to another doctor!!!

The doubt probably makes me work extra hard, and I'm hoping with time, I can replace the doubt with confidence. The old saying – practice makes perfect comes to mind.

And in thinking about those doubts, often times, it's me comparing my writing to other books out there. I've talked about this before, and of course I know I shouldn't be doing this. In fact, Cheryl Renee Herbsman had a great post about this yesterday, and I love her phrase to remind herself to be happy with who she is - Don't be the clown.

When people pick up a Lisa Schroeder book, they aren't expecting a book by anyone else. My name is on the front, right? So I need to stop stressing that it's not as good as this book or that book or whatever.

Anyway, in thinking about all of this, I've realized it's probably best to keep the doubts to myself. I mean, I can't imagine that doctors don't have doubts. Or teachers. Or airplane pilots. They all must have doubts some days. But they've learned it doesn't do any good to share those doubts with the world. And in fact, it can even hurt their career to do so. And perhaps those authors I admire so much DO have doubts, they have just learned their readers really don't want to hear about them.

Therefore, let me go on record as saying:

You are really going to want to read my YA novel, CHASING BROOKLYN, coming out in four short months. It’s a ghost story told from two points of view, Nico and Brooklyn. A book told in multiple points of view is not easy to write. But guess what? I think I did a damn good job.

(how'd I do?)


  1. Great post, Lisa! I've been thinking about this confidence thing a lot lately. A lot of great writers seem to have big egos & in a way maybe you have to. All the rejection and reviews and just facing a blank page again--it all requires a certain amount of confidence & if you let the self doubt take over, it's hard to make anything happen. Like Chasing Brooklyn--writing in multiple POV IS hard. I have a book in multiple POV too & everyone told me not to do it. But no risk no reward. And Chasing Brooklyn sounds awesome! I'm excited to check it out. ;)

  2. Sounds like your getting better ;) Confidence is important, you can tremble on the inside but that's not important for the world to know.

  3. Lisa - YES. A long while back I decided not to post about my massive self-doubts, ever refer to less than positive reviews, etc. I do try to be open about how, in general, I have fears and insecurities like we all do. But when it comes to specific doubts...ESPECIALLY about whatever book is about to come out and there's nothing I can add or subtract to it now...I keep those between a few close friends.

    I mean, once the book goes into production, that's the book it's going to be. I try to be proud of what I've done while always striving to do better.

  4. Edith - glad I'm not the only one who has been mulling this confidence thing around. And I guess you're right - I must have some to keep doing what I'm doing. But it never feels like I have enough, if that makes sense?

    T.Anne - Yes, you said it so succinctly. :)

    Sara - you make such valid points. The book is what it is. It's not like I can change anything at this point. I like thinking of it in the way you suggest - I need to be proud of what I've done and know that with each book, I'll be striving to do better.

  5. The ever elusive confidence... It's such a hard balance to find between confidence and egotism. A lot of the authors I admire are confident, and I tend to turn away from the ones who are egotistical.

    I suppose I have a good level of confidence in my work, though I don't really think of it that way. Instead, I just love it to death. :) I figure that if I love it so much, someone else might, too. :)

    As for comparing your work with other books that are out there, well, I think that's common. Another way to look at it, though, is that the other books aren't better - they're just different. We're all unique, with our own stories to tell. And different doesn't mean better, it's just different. :) And I'm betting that out there, somewhere, is a reader who will prefer your story over someone else's. And vice versa. It's the blessing and curse of how much subjectivity is in this industry. :)

    But, I think that as long as you love your work with all your heart, and you've done the best that you possibly can, then you don't need to worry so much about what other people think. :)

  6. I can't wait to get my copy of Chasing Brooklyn...