Crises of Confidence ~ Outside the Margins with Edmond Manning

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Edmond Manning OTM

A Facebook friend, Jay Northcote, recent posted this:

Authors – how do you deal with your crises of confidence? Assuming you have them because I think most of us do. Do you try and ignore them and hope they’ll go away? Power through? Or do you build a virtual blanket fort and drown yourself in chocolate/alcohol/comfort reading (insert panacea of your choice here) until it passes? What works for you?

I followed the post’s ensuing comments with great interest to see if others did what I do. Here are a sampling of their comments:

  • “Build a nest in my sofa, eat junk food, watch my favorite movies.”
  • Talk to friends.
  • Power through.
  • Talk to other authors.
  • Stay committed to your goals.
  • “I carry on writing the kind of stories I want to write, and shove all thoughts of submitting or publishing out of my head.”
  • Read positive reviews.
  • Read Stephen King’s one-star reviews on amazon.com.
  • Chocolate.

There were many different answers to the question, really, as many answers as there were crises of confidence. I nodded in recognition with most of the answers. Most were ones I had tried (although I hadn’t thought to visit Stephen King’s one star reviews!)

What surprised me about the post was not the variety of answers (though it was fun to see everyone’s strategies) but the variety of crises. Jay was really right to name it “crises of confidence” rather than “crisis.”

And there really are so many crises. A few I may have experienced personally:

• I’m A Terrible Writer Crisis
• I’m An Amazing Writer Why Doesn’t Anyone Notice Crisis
• Holy Shit What If I Never Write Anything As Good As Something I’ve Already Written Crisis
• I Can’t Finish This Scene Crisis
• I Picked A Book Too Hard To Write Crisis
• How To End This Book Crisis
• Two Star Review Crisis
• One Star Review Crisis
• Zero Star Because It’s THAT BAD Crisis
• I’m At 50% Of Finished And Out Of Ideas Crisis
• I’m at 55% Of Finished And Out Of Ideas Crisis
• I Can’t Write Without Milk and There’s No Milk In the House Crisis

There are other terrible crises, too terrible to mention. Some can be resolved with milk. Others cannot.

I find it curious how many unique flavors of disaster we writers can create for ourselves. After experiencing the thrill of THE RIGHT WORDS, why would we ever doubt ourselves again? After you’ve experience that ridiculous thrill, it’s hard to imagine doing anything else and experiencing that same rush, that knowing that you belong to the universe and at this moment—writing this scene—the universe belongs to you.

Perhaps that’s the root of all crises, right there. The selfish thought that the universe belongs to me.

When you’re a writer, you don’t own the universe, but you let the universe and the words–glorious words–flow through you, dance with you, take you on adventures that only you can see until you share them with others. You open up the universe to others the way the universe has opened you up.

Maybe you write a traditional love story.

Maybe you write a crazed werewolf/shifter love story.

Maybe you write something weirder than that.

But the universe lets you in on a little secret, that ‘this is also love,’ and encourages you, as a writer, to share that love with the rest of the world.

It’s absolutely thrilling.

The fear that this thrill might depart is terrifying. Perhaps that’s why it’s so easy to knock us out of confidence—the fear of losing that ‘we have a secret’ feeling. A bad review can do it. Nagging self-doubt can do it. Heck, one of the writers who responded to Jay’s post confessed that at 70% completely she always has a crisis of confidence. It’s almost in her schedule.

Lack of confidence can only come when we have confidence.

Confidence comes from our having touched something real in our hearts or brains and then recreated in the real world with words. That’s where our confidence comes from.

Perhaps the secret to overcoming a crisis of confidence is not to feel confident in the first place. I don’t intend to suggest we constantly present ourselves as a staggering, neurotic mess of quivering self-doubt. Nah. Not necessary.

But what if instead of confidence, we cultivated gratitude? What if we simply felt grateful the universe/The Muse/ imagination/ etc. showed us two lovers and their thorny paths to finding each other? What if we cultivated gratitude for gifts of writing, gratitude that love opened another path in front of us.

If we could do that—cultivate gratitude instead of confidence—there’d be nothing to take away.

~Edmond Manning

About Edmond Manning

Edmond Manning is the author of King Perry, King Mai, The Butterfly King andFilthy Acquisitions. He spends a great deal of time standing in front of the fridge with the door open, wondering why it’s not stocked with more luncheon meats and cheese.
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Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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5 thoughts on “Crises of Confidence ~ Outside the Margins with Edmond Manning

  1. I love your theory/suggestion, Edmond but I do see one potential flaw. I don’t know about anybody else but I’d be perfectly capable of worrying that I’d never have cause to be grateful (about my writing) again. I think that’s the problem with our (creative) minds; no matter what way you twist it, we are always able to come up with novel ways of doubting ourselves. Having said that, I am immensely grateful to have stumbled upon the world of writing and people who actually seem to like my words.

    • I think you’re probably right. If we eliminate confidence….doubt finds a way to sneak in, one way or another.

  2. It is a paradox of the creative mind that we are gods in our own domain, all-powerful creators of worlds, and yet we are all, at regular intervals, convinced of our own powerlessness and worthlessness. We can’t help this – it’s how our brains are wired. To be grateful rather than grasping I do believe can help the process (*hugs* for the Edmond) but I don’t think it can insulate us from the inevitable moments of self-doubt.

    “And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you, that Demon being the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound.” -William Goldman

  3. As a reader, I would like all of you authors to know that there will always be at least one person out there, reading your book that resonate with them and change their thinking and perhaps the very course they were on because the words you wrote are just THAT powerful. Maybe it’s a small change that helps bring around acceptance, happiness, insight. Maybe it leads to something greater – a step back towards family or the realisation that the family you were born to are not the only family you can have, that you can create a family with the people who love you. Maybe it can even be life altering. Maybe that one reader will be inspired to travel, to change career, to dream, to open their heart to the possibility of love because you have shown them that being brave and loving is worth the risk of being hurt. For every one of you, dear authors, there are many readers who find something special in the stories you tell. Remember that whenever you are faced with a crisis of confidence.

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