Ego of the Writer

Writers are interesting characters. The ego of a writer is something that has always been particularly interesting to me. I’ve never been someone who was ever really boastful, or confident. I’ve always struggled with confidence in particular. It’s hard for me to sell myself or my work because I still doubt it, and doubt myself.

It’s something I’m working on, and have come a long ways. I can now actually say, ‘I am published.’ without immediately adding, ‘But only in a few small things. It’s nothing really.’ Baby steps, right?

For me, that line between confident and cocky is very difficult to find. Any time I find myself wanting to boast or brag, I instantly feel like a jerk. Like the kid in school who went on and on about how wonderful s/he was and would brag to the entire class about every 100 they made on every assignment. I never want to be like that, a cocky jerk, but I would like to be more confident in my writing and in my every day life. Especially now that I’m job hunting, I need all the confidence I can get! So, I thought I’d spend a little time explaining how I’m doing this.

1. Keep a list of your accomplishments.

Write down what you’ve done. You don’t have to share it with anyone if you don’t want to, but just the act of writing down what you’ve accomplished can really help put things in perspective! Also, have you noticed I like lists, yet?

2. Practice saying what you’ve done.

Stare in a mirror and introduce yourself. For me this has consisted of saying, ‘Hi. I’m Andi and I’m a writer.’ and then if I’m really feeling bold, I mention some of the things I’ve had published. Don’t giggle. Don’t lessen yourself. Practice until you can say it with a straight face.

3. Stop apologizing.

I have a bad habit of apologizing for things I have no reason to apologize for. I’ve sent the message, ‘Here’s my short story. Sorry if it’s too short!’ to an editor when I knew fully well that my story was exactly in the word length that had been requested. The apology was unneeded in any way, shape or form, but I still felt obligated to include it. Don’t lessen your work. Stop with the ‘Well, it’s a super rough draft…’ or ‘I wrote it in college so it’s probably not very good…’ Stand up for your work, be proud of what you’ve done and let it stand on its own. No apologies.

4. Focus on the good.

Instead of thinking about the things you don’t have, you haven’t done, etc. Think about all the things you do have, all the things you have done. Think about where you were 5 or 10 years ago and how much you’ve accomplished since then. Be proud of that.

5. Accept compliments.

If someone says, ‘Oh man, her work is great.’ Don’t laugh it off with a ‘Oh, really it’s not…’ as you shrink from the conversation. Smile, say ‘Thank you!’, be gracious and believe what you are being told.


And that’s how I’m trying to build my own little ego up. What ways have you found help you feel more confident as a writer or just in general? How do you manage the cocky/confident line?


1 Comment »

  1. Robert Cordaro Said:

    Here is one you forgot: be careful about who you let read your stories. In the past I have let family and friends read my stories and got such great advise as “make it a porn”, or “I don’t get it”, and my personal favorite “it’s good, can we watch a movie tonight?”
    You may think this isn’t a big deal, but it made me stop writing for about 20 years.
    You have to make sure the people you let read your stuff are, first of all, actually a reader. My mother in law calls herself a reader but what she really does is collect books for a bookshelf. I’ve never seen her actually finish a book or magazine. I NEVER let her read my stuff.
    Also, make sure the person you share your stories with, actually reads the same kind of stories, or can be constructive even if they don’t like the genre. I don’t let my wife read my stuff because she’s really into the romance novels.
    Long story short, make sure you consider the source before letting someone read your stuff.

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