Forgive me, but this particular post is going to include a lot of talking about me. However, most of it will apply to other people and other writers.
When I started writing my first book at 14, I was an anxious wreck. I was having panic attacks every day, I was very isolated from friends and classmates and I just wasn’t in a great place in my life. It was a difficult time and writing seemed to be one of the only constant outlets I had.
Fast forward 3 years later, I’ve published 4 books, working on a fifth and am going to do a talk to Year 7s at my old secondary school where it all started. The 14 year old me would never, ever, in a million years, even think about doing that. I had to do a sort of public talk for my English GCSE and I could only do it in front of a friend and my teacher. Like I said- I was an anxious wreck.
Despite still having a lot of problems in my life, I think I’m in a better- or at least different- place in life. I’m no longer as anxious as I was. I still get anxiety, but it’s no longer making a huge impact on my social life and education. And I would honestly pin it all down to my career as an author. Let me explain.
Being an author has helped me hone a lot of skills that I either didn’t have, or didn’t know how to use. These include professional communication, promoting yourself, building a social network, budgeting, etc. As much as I prefer talking with adults than people my own age, it was still incredibly difficult trying to communicate with professionals in the media, other authors, teachers, and so on. Especially when it came to building up a network- I was absolutely clueless. Although, thanks to some advice from my friend and my father, I’ve gotten much better at it and the results prove it.
One factor common in each skill is confidence. I have never been confident in my own abilities. I never thought my writing was good, I never thought my art or my photography was good, and so on and so on. I have pretty much lacked confidence for as long as I can remember.
Yet during my time as an author, I’ve been forced into situations way outside my comfort zone. I have basically been forced to pretend to be confident, to pretend I like my books or my photos. Surprisingly enough, the phrase ‘fake it till you make it’ really does apply here. People I’ve spoken to in real life have commented on my confidence.
Situations such as interviews, setting up a book launch, contacting journalists, using my social media, talking with school professionals and librarians; they all forced me out of my comfort zone and into a fake confident act.
Over time, however, it became less and less fake. As the good reviews come in, both from Amazon and from schools and libraries, as the sales go up, as my career goes well, you started to feel a bit more confident without even realising it.
Unfortunately, you do have to be confident to make it as an author. That doesn’t mean you can’t be an author if you’re not- what it means is that you have to be prepared to make changes, adjustments and go outside your comfort zone regularly, which will in turn make you more confident.
To relate back to the title of this post, which I know has been a bit of a ramble- being an author has helped me develop skills that are useful in all areas of life (patience, budgeting, marketing, promotion, networking, ICT skills, etc) and has helped me develop the confidence I’ve lacked in my teenage years.
Writing went from a basic, secretive hobby, to a life changing career. I truly believe that this can happen to anyone, if you let it.