Thursday, November 12, 2009

Writerly Confidence: a game of Chutes and Ladders

A writer's confidence can be as up and down as my feet while I teach a Bodystep class.

If you, as a writer, don't have those ups and downs, well then, you are a robot.

Over the weekend I watched a writer friend ride her ups and downs, but I'm certain, dare I say I'm confident, that she impressed many at the retreat. Why do we put ourselves through that? It's like a grown-up game of Chutes and Ladders.
But tonight I was thinking about a whole other type of writerly confidence. Not the "I'm a great writer one minute" sort of confidence followed by a the "I suck and should never write again" completely gone confidence. Instead it's the confidence with which you approach the computer (or paper or pencil), really, the way you attack your story.

Pardon me while I switch gears. Many of you know I also teach fitness classes (Bodypump and Bodystep). They are choreographed, group-fitness classes and as the instructor I must know a 60-minute class song by song, count by count. Not only that, but I need to demonstrate perfect form as well engage and connect with my class.

What's that have to do with writing you ask?

It does. It so does. (At least in my brain.)

I've especially noticed this as I've started to teach Bodystep (there is a lot going on and so much to remember). But here's the thing, if I go at it worried that I'm going to misstep or forget, then you know what happens? I misstep and forget. The second I lose confidence in my ability to deliver, I mess up...even though I know I can do it.

Isn't it the same with writing?
As soon as I start to get in my head and stop trusting that I can tell my story, that's when it all goes wrong. But if I sit down at the keyboard and let go, get out of my own way, and let the story flow out...well, that's when the magic happens.

Do you ever get in your way?

7 comments:

Martha Brockenbrough said...

Well, if I ever lost my confidence, this might be useful. Good thing I am never plagued by self-doubt, fear, loathing or lack of coordination during manuscript-pumping sessions. Whew! :-)

Robin said...

Great post. It's like when you're skiing, and all you can think about is hitting the rock, sure enough...you're gonna hit the rock. I once saw a video on "how to ski" and it was a video of a women skiing gracefully and a voice over saying over and over, "Be the skier, be the skier." That was it.

And when I went skiing after that, all I could think about was gliding gracefully. I didn't think of the technical aspects, and it worked!

Thanks for the post. Be the writer...be the writer... :-)

annie said...

Thank you for posting about this Jolie. The worst part for me, when I'm in the Chutes phase, is believing, despite evidence to the contrary, that I am the only one who feels that way.

Shelli said...

that step surely gets in my way - I always trip! i dont get in my way but the internet does :)

Michèle Griskey said...

Jolie,
I used to teach Bodystep (though back in the 90s, it was called step). I remember my greatest fear was falling off the platform in the front of the room. If I got into the music and the moves, I had a great class. If I thought about falling off the platform or worrying about looking like a fool (and trust me, I looked foolish), I had a terrible class.

I've been obsessing over some final revisions right now, and I started to freak out over sentences and individual words.

I guess it's time to turn up the music and move. :)

Cuppa Jolie said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. So glad others can identify. (Well, except for Martha...you must have found the magic elixer, girl. *wink, wink* xoxo)

Robin, I'm loving your new mantra!

Be the writer, be the writer, be the writer...

Prof. Watermelon said...

Amen, Sista! That's all I have to say!