When you’ve been writing for five, ten, fifteen years and have yet to see more than a little extra pocket money from your effort, it’s easy to feel like you’ve accomplished nothing. And it’s completely natural to think about giving up once in a while. It would certainly be easier to do just about anything else.
Over the past few weeks I’ve discussed how various factors impact your self confidence, how to deal with different situations and what routines you can build to permanently improve your self confidence.
These strategies are all useful, but the best way to build your self confidence is to make consistent progress towards your life goals.
We all have issues, things we want to change about ourselves. Many of us also have big career dreams that aren’t currently being met. Nobody’s perfect and nobody ever will be, but we can all move closer to being the person we want to become. And what better way to improve your self confidence than to change into someone you like more?
If the life you’re living isn’t currently anything like the life you want to have–or you’re feeling discouraged by another rejection–follow these three steps to start changing your life today:
1. Be realistic about where you are. This is twofold. First, you need to realize that every written page, every completed chapter, every blog post that gets even a single comment is a step in the right directions. Some days writing five chapters of your manuscript is no big deal. Other days it’s difficult to get through more than a page. Same goes with edits.
Every time you finish something, you should give yourself a pat on the back. A lot of people daydream about becoming creative professionals, but only so many actually work towards it. A lot of people talk about writing a book, but only so many do–and even fewer edit their work.
I think some writers fall into the trap of thinking the only way to measure success is by looking at your list of publishing credits. If that really is you, maybe you should try your hand at non-fiction. You’ll probably get at least a dozen articles published before your first novel is up for sale.
The other aspect of this particular step towards self confidence is that you need to realize that every writer’s journey is different. Some writers get their first novel published at seventeen. Others don’t even start their first draft until they’ve already lived a different life and retired. It’s all valid. Your journey is yours alone, and when you realize that you can only move at your own pace you’ll be a lot happier.
2. Write down specific steps you can take each day to move forward in your life. It’s easier to know whether or not you’re making progress–and how quickly you’re progressing towards your goals–if you know what that looks like. Obviously a finished manuscript, a completed edit or a column in a local magazine is a victory, but do you really know how to build the writing career you want?
If you’re here, you probably already have a good idea what the steps are, but writing them down is extremely powerful. Even better, this can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be–anything from “write daily, edit everything, submit regularly” to detailed information about how much time you want to spend on each social network.
You might not be able to finish your WIP tomorrow or land a publishing contract next week, but there are plenty of things you can do every day to move your writing career forward. Even better, quite a few take less than half an hour.
3. Add at least one of these activities to your daily schedule for the next two weeks. You don’t have to turn every free moment into writing time, but you do have to up your game. Even adding an extra 15-20 minutes to the amount of time you spend writing or spending half an hour on social media can make a big difference if you do it every day.
If you want results sooner rather than later, you have to put the work in now. We all have a limited supply of time. If you want to build a successful writing career and you want to do it quickly, you’ll make the time to write, edit, submit and market your work. You’ll find spare moments in your day, write in line, spend hours each week developing relationships with influential people online.
And if you’re willing to put in the work, you can do it. Novels are hard to sell and it might take you a long time, but with enough determination, eventually you’ll find yourself among the ranks of published authors.
Oh, and don’t forget to celebrate successes! Keep track of every day you achieve all your goals, and reward yourself on a weekly or monthly basis. Writing is hard work, and you deserve to celebrate your successes, however small they may seem.