I was having an important conversation with someone today. I won’t say who, because I’m not sure if they want me to talk about them here. But at one point, I think I gave some of the best advice I’ve ever given. I said, “You are asking if you’re there yet. You have everything you need. Once you realize this, you’ll be there.”
I think this is true for a lot of us. It’s that spark of confidence we need to start the fire. Sometimes when we’re talking about taking a leap of faith, we’re just talking about having faith in ourselves.
This is especially true with writing. The best way to learn to write is to sit down and do it, and it takes a certain amount of confidence and boldness to conquer the blank page. But there is a bitter twist here, which is that we often learn how to write by writing it wrong. We try, we fall, we see what we did wrong, then get up and try again.
It’s why you should give yourself permission to write terrible first drafts. You’re going to get things wrong. But it’s important to have some faith in yourself in spite of stumbling, because you’re going to learn from the mistakes and then do better in the revision.
There is an awkward balance between just the right amount of confidence to push through the hard parts and get the story on the page, versus overconfidence, where you spray a bunch of word salad into the story and think it’s the best thing ever written. Whatever your first draft looks like, it can be improved with revision.
As a writer, you have everything inside that you need to write your story. It doesn’t matter if you are using a pen and paper or a fancy, handcrafted printer you soldered yourself. It’s not the tools you’re using, it’s the heart and soul you’re drawing from. It’s the force of your willpower to see the story through, and the sharpness of your intellect to carve out the right words. You have everything you need, even if some stories take more time than others.
You can do it. If you have the courage to take the leap, you will do it.
I’ll be starting a new one soon. I don’t feel like I’m ready, but I will be. Another novel by Brian C. E. Buhl will be start in a few days. It’s just a matter of time.