Any Red Dwarf fans amongst you may notice the subject of this post is the title of an episode from series one. I felt it was an apt title.
I touched on confidence as being intermittently linked with motivation in Living the Dream Part 3. It’s true; I think the pair go hand in hand. If you lack confidence then you won’t be motivated to achieve what it is you want to achieve. Confidence is the prerequisite of motivation.
At any given time during my history of writing (and everything else), confidence has played a part in whether I’ve even began a task, let alone finished it. I’ve always had issues with self-doubt, otherwise known as paranoia.
I mentioned in that same aforementioned post that my paranoia, my lack of confidence prevented me from attending and participating in a DJing competition when I was younger. I was more scared by the prospect of looking foolish in some way than I was confident of getting myself out there and performing publicly; perhaps even making a name for myself.
It’s a common problem. There are many of us who are so scared of failure that we don’t even try in the first place.
I posted something on Facebook a while ago that I unfortunately didn’t stick stringently to. It said something along the lines that I needed to lose my fear of failure and develop a fear of not trying to succeed instead. The sad fact is that while the words are very poignant and pertinent, it’s very tough to break out of the mind-set that failure is a humiliation nobody yearns to face up to.
For that very reason, I’ve never properly attempted to make it as anything more than a run-of-the-mill working class citizen. Putting myself out there for the world to judge just seems too big and scary. So my works have remained relatively unseen, especially where writing is concerned. Of course, I put myself out there with my DJing via Mixcloud, but even I can admit that I didn’t do all I could to promote myself. Was my heart ever really in it or was it the fact that I really wasn’t that confident in my abilities? I mean there are some amazing DJ’s out there and I know I’m not as good as they are.
The same can be said of authors. I know there are lots who are much better than I am. I see them on WordPress all the time. I’m in awe of so many writers on here and how good their writing is. I could never write like that.
But then do I want to write like that? Surely it’s all about developing a unique style and mine is definitely more about quality of content rather than how the content is put across. Obviously I want to put it across in a good way, but I’m doing a good job from what I can gather; especially when I’m told from the reader that they can see my personality shining in my writing. That’s as good as a compliment gets for my money.
I finally have confidence in my writing. So much so that I took the advice of one of my blog friends, Keri.L (please give her blog a read), and used pronoun.com to self-publish Dead End as an e-book. It should be available to purchase over the next few days. I had wanted to publish it as a free e-book, but unfortunately that wasn’t an option with pronoun.com. To that end, I’ve decided to give any money I make off Dead End to charity. I wasn’t planning on making money off it so I’m not going to miss it.
To get back to the point though, I have finally got the confidence to throw my work out there to the masses. I’m confident enough to leave myself open to whatever criticism might come my way from those who don’t like my writing or disagree with my viewpoints. I’m going to take the grownup stance that any criticism will be constructive and productive. I want to learn to be a better and more complete writer; to please more of the people more of the time.
To decide I wanted to write a story independently when I was around eleven or twelve years old took a decent amount of confidence. I’d obviously read the works of Brian Jacques and thought “I’m good enough to do that” otherwise I surely wouldn’t have done it. I was confident enough to at least give it a try and that first story I wrote (in a blue exercise book of some description) was the gateway to what would ultimately lead me to where I am now.
Gaining the confidence to get something started is challenging enough, but maintaining the confidence to see it through to the bitter (or sweet) end is at least twice as tough. How many people do you know who started something full of gusto only to completely give up somewhere along the line? How many times have you done it yourself? I know I have.
I don’t think confidence is something one either has or doesn’t have. I think it’s something that comes to you when you need it and it comes to some more than others. I’ll try and explain what I mean.
I’ll reference Red Dwarf for a second time. There’s an episode in series five called Quarantine and in this episode, the crew come across a bunch of syringes filled with ‘positive viruses’. Kryten goes on to explain that a scientist discovered that things like luck, sexual magnetism and other such things are actually viruses that humans contract unknowingly and have a positive effect on their host.
Kryten injects Lister with a small dose of ‘luck’ and Lister proceeds to pick out every single ace in a deck of cards (the odds of doing so are 1,624,350 to 1 if my maths is correct). In an episode from series seven, Rimmer injects himself with ‘sexual magnetism’ and ends up getting lucky with about four different women.
Getting back to my point, I sort of believe in the theory. I don’t necessarily think positive states of mind and soul are viruses as such, but I don’t think they’re exactly permanencies of the human psyche either. In the case of confidence, I believe you get a shot of it depending on the situation and how likely you think you are to succeed. If you look at the situation and surmise there’s a good possibility you’ll do what you set out for then you’ll feel confident.
You may argue that there are those people who are confident regardless of whether they have good odds of success or failure, but you also have to factor in that people are very capable of putting on a front too. I’ve seen many a person act as though they’re supremely confident in front of people, but as soon as they’re away from such a public scene they shrink into something more modest.
I have been a classic example of just that during my time.
In many ways I still am putting on a show of confidence that isn’t entirely true. I don’t have confidence that my novel will definitely be deemed good enough for publication once it’s finally ready. I don’t have confidence that it’ll definitely sell if it does get published. All of that is simply too much of a lottery for me to feel confident.
None of that matters though because what I do have is the confidence (finally) to at least try and get the novel published and put it forth as a kind of sacrifice. I don’t want people to judge me or my baby harshly, but if I don’t take the risk of that happening then my baby will remain forever ensconced in a save file doing and achieving nothing for itself nor me. What good is that?
To become anything you want to be you have to have the confidence to accept the possibility of being metaphorically shot down as an occupational hazard. You also have to have the confidence to pick yourself back up and go again when you have been metaphorically shot down. I finally learned that with my writing over the last year. The thought of my novel not being given the chance to strut its stuff in the public forum concerns me more than the prospect of publishers not liking it.
This blog was created so that people with some actual know-how when it comes to writing can peruse my abilities and judge me accordingly. Thus far the feedback has been very positive and that only further instils me with confidence. You people reading, liking and commenting on my posts have had your part to play in my success if I realise my dream and become a fully-fledged published author; for even putting me in a position where I feel confident enough to do so, I thank you all.
Without confidence you have no real chance. You can’t go hoping to contract the luck virus and everything falling into place. You need to feel self-assured enough to begin in the first place and see it through. I’m no longer in a place where I’m lacking this most important and fundamental ingredient in which to make my dream a reality.
What are your thoughts on the importance of confidence? Has a lack of it ever prevented you from seeing something through? Has confidence itself ever pulled you through a tough situation when you thought you might not succeed? Drop your comments below and I will reply as soon as I’m able.