The Support Factor & giving thanks

I want to ask you a personal question and it’s nothing to do with your sex life. or how much you earn. I want to ask you something even more personal than that.

Have you told yourself that you’re not good enough today? Have you told yourself that you’re a failure? Have you decided not to do something because you’re scared?

If you have you’re not alone. I did it as well.

I thought about turning down a job because I was worried I wasn’t good enough to do it. This was after they’d offered me the job.

Even after an editor has not only said ‘yes’ to publishing my book but offered me contracts for two more, I have a crippling fear that I am not good enough to be an author. I constantly question the things that I write, whether the ideas are unique enough, whether anyone will want to read my book, whether I’m going to be able to cope when I get a horrible 1-star review.

My understanding through talking to others is that this lack of confidence is not uncommon in women, particularly for sensitive, creative types like writers. I see brilliant women cut themselves down, belittle their talents and generally talk to themselves the way that no one should ever talk to another human being, let alone themselves. Why?

Unfortunately I don’t have an answer for why this happens. All I can do is share how I’ve managed to get the confidence to continue writing, submitting, going for promotions at work and generally doing other stuff that scares the sh*t out of me.

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This is an actual photo from my wedding – my sister (who hates public speaking) gave an impromptu speech about our wonderful friendship and I grabbed her hand because I knew she was probably terrified. I’m so glad the photographer was there to capture this moment, the photo was completely unplanned.

Want to know my secret? I’ve learned to ask for support.

I have people in my life who are supportive, who don’t think my dreams are crazy and who are willing not only to help, but are also happy to put up with me when I have a meltdown about the impossibility of it all. They’re a shoulder to cry on, they give me a kick up the butt when I need it (I can thank my husband for this one), they tell me the truth about my work, they clap their hands when I achieve and sometimes they just leave me the heck alone (also, a big thanks to my husband for this one.)

But I have had to ask for this support. This has not been easy, I dislike asking for things because I question whether or not I deserve what I’m asking for.

One thing I’ve realised is that people are almost always willing to help if you reach out. Sometimes we have to remember that we can be our harshest critics, and that others are a lot kinder to us than we are to ourselves.

I guess what I’m trying to say (in my usual rambling fashion) is that you’re not alone. You can ask for help, you do deserve support and success, and most importantly yes, you are good enough.

Don’t hesitate to ask a question of another writer over Twitter or Facebook or email, don’t think that you’re too early (or too late) in your journey to join a writer’s group/attend a conference/submit your work. Don’t let your fear stop you from working towards your dream. You can do it.

On that note, here are a few people I would like to thank:

My husband – for everything from doing the dishes, to putting up with my cranky editing-cave BS, to letting me ugly cry when I need it.

My family – my little sister for being a shining beam of positive throughout my entire life, to Mum for reading my very first manuscript and telling me it was wonderful, for Dad for being so proud and showing me that real men have emotions.

Nan and Nonno – although you’re no longer here I feel your influence like a comforting blanket. Thank you for teaching me so much in the time I had with you both. It could never have been enough time.

The ladies at MRWG – you guys rock! I am so eternally grateful for the support, encouragement and belief you have given me…and also for all the chocolate rewards.

Violet – my friend, beta-reader, BS detector and eradicator of single tears and chin tilts. Thank you for your unwavering honesty and enthusiasm.

Lauren and Kari  – two gorgeous ladies who’ve critiqued my work with gentleness, care and enthusiasm. I’m hanging out to watch you both get published.

These wonderful Australian romance writers whose work and attitude has inspired me to no end – Anna Campbell, Annie West, Anne Gracie, Louise Reynolds, Rachel Bailey, Eden Summers, Madeline Ash, Rachel Johns, Amy Andrews, Nicola Marsh and many, many others.

I know it’s hard to put yourself out there, it’s hard to believe you’ll get to where you want to be. But you can, and there are always people to help you no matter how alone you feel.

29 Responses to “The Support Factor & giving thanks”

  1. Andra Ashe says:

    Beautiful post Stefanie. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings and I know other writers will empathize. As difficult as it is, doubting ourselves keeps us humble and I don’t think anything kills both creativity and credibility. Enjoy the journey you’re on!

  2. Jennie Jones says:

    Beautifully put and totally understood. Love you for writing this post. When can I buy you coffee and lots of cake?

  3. Madeline Ash says:

    A beautiful post about the doubt we all feel. If only it weren’t so difficult to believe in ourselves! But as you say, that’s why we have others to believe in us without fail. Thank you for the mention – it goes both ways!

    And that photo from your wedding is so very special x

    • Stefanie says:

      It easily one of my favourites from the wedding, a perfect representation of my relationship with my little sister :) I was happy to include your name, Uncovered By Love has really stuck with me – I keep thinking about it even though I’m reading something else.

  4. Stef, so sorry you’ve been dealing with demons. I think the reality of a writer’s life is that we all do – we live so much in our heads and that’s not always a fun place to be. Hang in there and reach out when you need to – I knew the minute I heard you read out that first passage at the MRWG retreat that you were the real deal, so hold your head high, my friend! xxx

    • Stefanie says:

      Awww thanks Anna, coming from someone with your level talent that is high praise indeed! Meeting you and Annie at the retreat was one of the things that spurred me on to keep writing when things got tough – all your kind words were so very appreciated :)

  5. Heidi Rice says:

    Wonderful post Stephanie, and God yes, I’ve been there (and will no doubt be back there again very shortly)… Sadly I think it’s true that women doubt their abilities (or certainly question them) more than men do. Or maybe it’s just that they do it aloud. But the other amazing thing is that they ask for and give support so much more easily. My husband said to me recently when I was talking about all the support I get from all the romance writing friends I have in person, on email loops, etc and he said I don’t think crime novelists get that sort of support from each other! When I was struggling to writ my first book (before being published) I wish I’d known about that network of poeple a lot sooner. But I’m so glad I have it now. My husband’s also pretty useful too, though. LOL.

    • Stefanie says:

      Husbands do come in handy sometimes, don’t they! I agree, I’ve heard from writers of other genres that they don’t have the support, friendship and nurturing that we in the romance writing community do. I wonder if that’s because it’s mostly women writing romance, we seem to lack the competitiveness that writers of other genres face. Whatever the reason I’m grateful to be part of this community, it’s been a fantastic experience so far!

  6. Lauren James says:

    Amazing post, Stef. This just about sums up how I feel at least half the time on my writing journey. You are absolutely right about reaching out and asking for help. I’ve never been good at it, and I still struggle, but having a great group of writers, as well as friends and family who understand, can really help.

    P.S. it is an absolute pleasure being your critique partner. It’s not easy finding someone you feel comfortable with and who you trust with your work. I’m so proud of everything you’ve achieved and I look forward to the day we celebrate double contract sales :)

    • Stefanie says:

      I agree, the critiquing relationship is an important one but it’s rare to find such a good fit as we have :) I’m very much looking forward to helping you celebrate all the wonderful milestones in your future, I know it’s going to happen for you!!

  7. Hi Stef

    I loved reading your post. It was true in so many ways, and I loved your honesty about something that affects all of us as writers at one time or another.
    You deserve every accolade you get – you’ve worked hard and earned every single one.
    Good luck with your first book, and may it be the first of many.

    Michelle

  8. kari lemor says:

    Stef,
    I hope by now you know you are so worthy of all the good that has come your way. You are an amazing writer and deserve everything you are getting in publishing your book. I wish you only the best and am so appreciative of your support and friendship as well. You will go far, my fried. Of that I have no doubt.

  9. Annie West says:

    Stephanie, you’re so right about women not daring to trust in themselves. I loved your post. I think it hit the spot with a lot of us. I feel honoured to be included in it – thank you! One thing I’ve learned about writing is that you CAN do so much more than you ever thought you could, and surprisingly, you don’t do it in isolation. I hope the future is filled with fewer doubts and plenty of celebrations.

    • Stefanie says:

      Thanks Annie. I think it’s true you can do so much more than you think you can initially and the community definitely helps. Thank god for the internet!

  10. Serena Tatti says:

    Hi Stef,
    Great post. I know lots of published authors and I can tell you that you are definitely not alone. Self doubt is one of the hardest things for anyone to overcome. BUT I think it’s something that is good for an author. It proves that you aren’t the type of person who thinks that because you have a contract (or three!) makes you superior. It’s kinda nice when published authors are grounded.

    You’ve worked hard and long and deserve every bit of success you’ve had and will enjoy in the future. And the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild will always be behind you 110%

    • Stefanie says:

      Thanks for the comment and for all your helpful advice to date! I agree that it’s a good thing to be grounded and humble, no ivory towers here :)

  11. Great post and thank you for sharing your thoughts on an issue which I have battled along with many other women who allow self-doubt to stand in the way of attaining their goals.

    Joining MRWG was the best decision I ever made and it’s wonderful to see our talented members get published.

    Congratulations Stef.

    • Stefanie says:

      Thanks Margaret, totally agree – the group has so many benefits, but I think the support is #1. No matter how many worries I have when I get to a meeting they all just disappear when I walk through the door (and when I see the reward chocolates!)

  12. Eden Summers says:

    You are such a beautiful soul. It’s probably not going to make you feel better but you will probably always feel insecure about yout writing. And that’s a good thing. You will always strive to be better. You will always work harder to impress.

    You will make it far, my friend. And I can’t wait to watch the awesome reviews roll in

    Always here for you.

    • Stefanie says:

      Thank Eden, I think that constant hunger to be better is a wonderful thing. I may not have even finished the first draft if I didn’t have it! Thanks for all your kind words and sage advice :)

  13. What a beautiful post and so true. We all need to remember to be kinder to ourselves more often.

  14. Jennifer Hayward says:

    What a lovely and true post Stefanie! Thanks for sharing. Self doubt is so easy to fall into, and we need these amazing influences to keep us grounded!

    • Stefanie says:

      Thanks Jennifer, you’re so right. Sometimes all it takes is my husband saying ‘think about what you’re saying’ to stop the downward spiral of doubt.

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