On a regular basis I have to confront the demons of my soul about writing.
Some of the fiends are horned, steaming with sulphur, and carry gruesome torture weapons. Others wear a suit and are charming, but brutal, in their criticism.
Struggling with them is a wearying experience. They have the ability to show me a bleak future, and can strip back the layers of optimism and hope to uncover my core fear that I’m a talentless hack that will never amount to anything.
The worst part is when they point to the statistics. The plain facts about how many attempt to break into a career in writing, and how few manage to do so.
The question is asked:
“Why should you succeed when so many others have failed?”
It’s been my experience, and I’ve worked in a number of industries, that there are three key elements that help anyone in breaking into their chosen career:
Persistence, confidence, and luck.
I would like to add talent, but talent will only help you rise to the top once you get the toehold in the industry.
Of everything, confidence is the most important. Employers (be they editors, producers, studios, or McDonalds) want someone they can trust. They want someone who will solve problems, be inventive, be professional, and will get the job done. Some of this can be ascertained from a resume, but a lot of it has to do with the prospective employee’s confidence. Which is why people bursting with confidence, but lacking talent, get into great jobs. There is no use bemoaning the situation, but instead you have to learn to project confidence–even if you don’t feel it all the time.
Which brings me back to my regular bouts of demon-wrestling.
Even when I feel trampled upon and pinned down by my insecurities and anxieties, there is a small, but persistent, part of me that remains steadfast in the knowledge that I can do this.
It’s that understanding of my character and my strengths that I draw upon when I need confidence.
It’s not that I don’t know the difficulties ahead of me (in fact I may know too much about them), but I choose to be persistent, confident, and make my own luck.
There’s enough fluff in my belly button today… back to the activity that will help me the most: writing.