Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Friday, March 5, 2010

15 Reasons Why an Author Needs Kick-butt Confidence

A few days ago, David J. West posted about an author needing a thicker skin, and I just read en violet's post about confidence. Both these posts inspired so much thought material on my end, I thought I'd write about it further. Thanks to both these excellent bloggers for their inspiration!

Note the name of my blog-- from reclusive writer to published author. Hmm, wonder why I was so reclusive for so long. And not published. Might it have had something to do with a lack of confidence and a super-thin skin? Well, yes. Still, I've worked out my issues and moved on, knowing I still have a ways to go. I judge my progress as a writer by the *thickness* of my skin.

Why does a writer need kick-butt confidence?:

1. To start writing for an audience in the first place

2. To finish a manuscript

3. To ask for critique

4. To submit to an agent and/or publisher

5. To take rejection, rewrite and resubmit

6. To keep going on this merry go round, which you're never sure will get you anywhere.

7. To put yourself on the internet and start blogging for the first time.

8. To interact with others on the internet, make comments, and be a part of the cyberspace community.

9. To get published at long last, and realize the work of finding your readership is just beginning.

10. To go to that very first book signing and watch people avoid your table. P.S. Don't chase them down or grab at them. No, I've not done this, but I've known authors who have. It doesn't work.

11. To give a presentation on your book and have all these people watching and waiting to be informed, entertained and enchanted by you, a reclusive writer not a public speaker or a performer.

12. To read reviews that are negative, mean-spirited, and critical of your baby, your heart and soul.

13. To make a pitch on yourself and your work.

14. To go back and do it all again and again and again.

15. To respond graciously to those people who ask you when you're going to get a real job.

That's my list. I decided to stop at fifteen. Anything to add? Why do you need confidence?


  1. Your list exhausts me when I see how far I have to go. I'm only at #8!

    Another reason to need confidence:

    I recently read another blog from a writer who recently went to a conference. She said that one agent said he only signs on one client out of 6,000 queries. Writers need confidence because without it, we'll just assume we will fail and give up.

  2. All those things. Confidence to know you can do it because you believe in yourself.

  3. My God, I'm with Theresa, I'm only at #8. Did they really avoid your table at a booksigning? I would have lost it right there. I would have totally given up the writing life.

    But then, it's what I want to do, what I've always wanted to do since I was a little kid. Do I have the confidence to continue? I guess so, I don't think I have much choice in the matter.

  4. I have nothing to add buy I have to admit, some listed items scare me to death.


  5. Theresa, You're at #8? You're over half way there!

    Carol, Believing in yourself is essential, crucial and a downright must-have! I mean, if we don't believe in ourselves, who will?

    Piedmont writer, yes, people will avoid a table at a booksigning, maybe they see us as salesmen? Or maybe they feel bad about not buying the book? I learned early on, to take a friend or two!

  6. Ann, which ones? Just curious.

  7. Hi

    Confidence is great for yourself! It gets you through the day. And it's essential and a must for a budding author - it's gets you through all that insecurity!

    Take care

  8. Karen, your post is so timely as I prepare to send out queries for my non-fiction book. I could definitely use a dose of that kick-butt confidence!

    So, is your new picture supposed to be sending a message?

  9. LOL@ number 15. I would put that one before number 8!

    Something I heard last night: you have to have the confidence to write, because no one else will do it for you.

  10. I seem to be stuck at #8. Can't wait to give #9 a try!

  11. Ha ha ha! Fun pic, Karen!

    You said it all better than I could. I don't have a thing to add.

  12. Colette, YES!

    Donna, Haha, I like your new pic, too!

    Susan, that's the spirit!

    M., really? thanks!

  13. Thanks for the mention.

    Writers need confidence to follow an idea from inception to final edit, sure that This one is wonderful, This one will take off.

  14. Great list Karen and thanks for the mention. I've done most of this list out of order. I'm kinda just waiting on 10 and 12.

  15. Karen, I'll agree that writers need confidence: I think it's essential. But they also need to know when to step back.

    I've read some email exchanges, recently, between agents and authors. All involved the authors arguing with the agents because the agents had rejected their work. I had to admire the writers' confidence--but they were very obviously misguided. Now I know that none of our lovely blog readers would do such a thing: but please, everyone, remember that too much confidence can be damaging.

    (I think number 10 is a doozy. Do people really do that? I'm astonished--and want to see it happen!)

  16. Jane, good point to bring up--yes, we're talking about confidence here, not arrogance and a sense of entitlement!

  17. Oh yes, and about #10-- I posted about one particular incident where that happened. Here's the link if you want to read about it:

    (Sorry, I don't know how to put a live link in the comment box.)

  18. Well I'm another one wh's got as far as #8.

    Here's to us all getting to #9!!

  19. Karen,

    #11 scares the hell out of me! I think I'd also add, sticking to your guns when self-doubt nags away at you ...

  20. Kate, Rock on! You'll get there. #8 is over halfway there!

    Simon, Definitely, thanks for adding that. Giving in to self-doubt sabotages everything we're working for or have attained.

  21. On reading your list, I just smiled. I am taking a rather zigzag approach. So what else is new? I think I can safely say 1, 3,5,7,8 are in process. As for the rest, they are my next hurdles. Well I have to finish something first...Right!

  22. Oh forgot to mention, love your profile photo.

  23. Ann, funny you should mention that little detail about actually finishing something. When I finished Farm Girl, I realized it was the first time I had a complete ms. in my hands, after all my years of writing. Even then, it was only 35,000 words! Embarrassing, huh?