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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

If You See It, Will It Come?

What's on the iPod: The Road to Home by Amy MacDonald

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There are a few things writers can do to improve their skills, but what can we do to improve our confidence levels? I'm a fairly big proponent of visualization, but not in the sense of "Just visualize it and you'll do it." Life ain't that simple, folks.

Visualizing your success is just a small part of what it takes to "do it." The idea is if you see yourself successful, you'll be inclined to work toward that successful image. The operative word is "work" for it isn't all flowers, bunnies, and free love. It's sweat, hard lessons, and nothing for free. Still, the first step in success can be visualization if you have a plan to get to your imagined happy place.

I used visualization a few times in my career, and I've had some success with it. It's a tool, nothing more. It's not a foolproof anything, nor will it work if you don't think it will. It's a means of motivation, and motivation is exactly what we need in order to gain confidence. Maybe visualizing will motivate you. Maybe not.

Still, there are plenty of ways to gain confidence and motivation that can help you improve your earnings or successful client contacts:

Visualization. Like I said before, it can work if you put some work behind the vision. I can sit here all day envisioning a successful novel career. If I don't write, it's not happening. Same with any other goal. See it, and then think about what it's going to take to get there. Then take action, keeping that image in your mind.

Validation. Not of your skills so much, but a validation of your hourly rate, your approach, or maybe even your communications method can help you gain some confidence. Ask other writers for honest opinions of some area in which you're unsure.

Consistency. If you practice, it will come. Even a lousy marketing plan works if you do it consistently. Someone will need a writer, and if you keep asking, you'll find those someones sooner. Likewise those client communications, project hiccups, and business issues. If you keep trying, you'll eventually learn and that will boost your confidence like nothing else.

Peer contact. Hanging out with other writers can help you make better decisions. When you make better decisions, you'll feel a bit more confident and you'll soon rely less on advice and more on your own intuition and experience. Careful with whom you hang out, though -- I've seen clumps of writers occasionally who get stuck in their "Woe is our world" mode. Negativity is infectious -- steer clear of groups where writers are doing more griping and lamenting than sharing and helping.

Education. You don't have to have a college degree to be a successful writer. However, if you feel lacking in skills or business savvy, it's okay to take a course, a webinar, or pick up a book to walk you through the sticking points in your career.

How do you build your confidence level? How long did it take you to feel comfortable in your career? 


Susan Kelley said...

Great article. I've been fortunate to have smart, generous mentors and to meet and work with all kinds of talented people since day one in my first job as a tech writer.

Since then I've learned to reach out and ask for help when I'm over my head. Like you, peer support, mentors help tremendously. My curiousity and love of learning, lifelong education and reading also help.

It took me about six months to feel confident in my career because I realized that (most)mistakes were OK, just chances to learn.

Lori said...

Susan, it's great when you find someone (or a group of someones) who serve as a great support system. I remember my first support system, and I'm thankful for them. My current support system has some of those people plus a few more.

Great point on mistakes being okay. They really are -- you don't learn if you don't experience it sometimes.

Mridu Khullar Relph said...

For me, personally, visualization means putting my goals where I can see them everyday. When that happens, you're almost certainly going to be spurred into action sooner or later, because if you care about that particular goal and you see it every day, your mind will automatically start taking little steps towards it. Or at least that's how it has worked with me so far. I love telling the story of how I wrote, every day for a year, in my journal that I would be published in TIME magazine before my birthday. I got my first assignment from them on my birthday. (In addition to writing in my journal, of course, I'd pitched the editors repeatedly and even had a meeting with them.)

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