Author Confidence – Guest Post by Jaq D Hawkins…

I read a lot of ‘author advice’ articles, even after all my years of writing. There’s always a new perspective or nugget of wisdom to be found, no matter what your experience level.

One thing I’ve noticed as I sift through the articles on offer is the number of them focused on author confidence… or more specifically, on the lack of it that is apparently very common among today’s young authors.

I’ve always been very honest with myself about my own strengths and weaknesses. One of the reasons trolls don’t phase me is that if they pick on a weak trait or something I got wrong to try to erode my confidence, it was likely something I already knew about and possibly even have a plan of action in place to improve.

One exception was when a hate reader from the 2012 Goodreads Troll Wars tore apart my overuse of pronouns in my first novel. I didn’t get upset at the criticism, but looked at the manuscript and decided she was right. I went through and fixed the problem, thereby improving my writing. I don’t think it was the result she was after, but meh, I owe nothing to a troll.

The point I want to make here is that if you’re driven to write, you should be writing. You’re entitled to make mistakes. You’re inevitably going to improve with practice, just like with any skill. If you’re not sure your writing is good, put it aside and read it afresh in a couple of months. If you’re still not happy with it, work out why and what needs to happen to improve it.

In this month of February when many people are writing about love and romance, why not extend some of that love to yourself and appreciate how far you’ve already come in your writer journey?

None of us is born with so much talent we can write a best seller on the first try. You might well write a few stories that aren’t up to scratch, but that’s called practice. If you’ve written a full novel and it’s what you want it to be, but you’re afraid no one else will like it, find someone else to read it. Not your bestie who will tell you it’s wonderful no matter what, but someone objective. Ideally, an editor, though they cost.

The thing is, to be a writer, you have to reach a point where you’re ready put your stories out into the wild, knowing that you will almost certainly get some bad reviews. Hopefully you’ll get good ones as well, but I’ve seen writers crushed by a single one-star rating.

Newsflash: someone is going to hate your story. It’s not what they wanted to read. Or maybe they’re having a bad day. Or maybe they’re petty and go around down rating books to compensate for their own inadequacies. Yes, there are people who do that.

If there’s no review to go with the bad rating, let it roll off. If there is a review, it’s worth analysing whether there’s something to learn from it, like the pronoun issue in my first novel. Sometimes it’s just not the right story for that particular reader. My hate reader described my goblins as “Hippy-dippy”. Well since their society was modelled after Pagan-hippy groups, it’s a fair assessment. Many readers love it for just that reason.

Working in any creative medium opens up vulnerability to criticism. Writing, drawing, filmmaking or any form of art will have critics as well as those who appreciate your creations. Once you accept that someone, somewhere will criticise your efforts and pigeonhole them as not your audience, the jibes fail to stick. After all, what has that person ever created?

Writing, especially in these days of independent publishing, requires developing a thick skin. Apart from those who genuinely don’t like your stories, there will be those who get a feeling of power by poking at your confidence. It’s just a form of power play.

Write what gives you pleasure to write. Keep learning the craft of effective storytelling. When you feel the satisfaction of creating something you feel is good, no one can ever take that away from you.

Jaq D Hawkins

Books available at:

Barnes & Noble






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