Confidence and an organized writing life

Confidence doesn’t work the way it does in the stories. It’s not something that is imbued on a select few people like some character trait. It’s a skill that is honed and developed, but also gets dull if you don’t use it.

An organized writing life means having confidence in your own ability to finish a project no matter what it is. That confidence grows with every finished story and carries with it the necessary momentum to begin the next project with little delay. If you don’t feel confident about your writing despite the amount of work that you are doing then it’s time to take an honest look at the results and ask yourself “What did I really accomplish?”

The primary goal of organizing your writing life is to help you move forward and if something doesn’t feel like a step in the right direction then its time to reassess why you are doing it.

Hallmarks of Confidence

Principles are accepted rule of action or conduct. As you go about organizing your own writing life, it’s worthwhile to think of the principles that make a confident person so that you can judge whether you are on the right track or not.

Being clear about how any of these principles apply is essential because defining any number of these things will tell you if the steps you are taking to get organized are working or not.

Regrets are a good indicator that you are disorganized because it means you really want to be working on something else. A person with conviction is so sure that the things they are doing will benefit them that nothing will stop them from completing a task.

Developing the conviction necessary to finish something takes patience and effort.  It requires serious thought and asking the tough questions. Take some time to find out what writing projects you can apply this principle to. Think about what you are most passionate about. If there were no limits on your skills or abilities, what would you want to be working on all day long?

Vision-A confident well organized person thinks with the end in mind. When you are getting organized, shoot for the best and plan on obtaining it. Decide what it is that you want and then work backwards.

Having vision doesn’t mean being able to see what’s in front or behind you, but what lays ahead.  A confident person can’t necessarily tell the future, but they have a good sense of the future they want to create and never let go of it.

The world can be quite complex, but the confident person is not. A confident person has integrity meaning— they mean what they say and do what they say at all times. When a course of action is set and all the organizing is finished, your ability to execute and follow through is the only way to adhere to this principle.

What’s sounds so simple is never easy because there will always be temptations to do something else. The more important it is, the more appealing procrastination looks because the fear of failure is amplified and we tend to run away from scary things.

If you have conviction and the vision to clearly define what it is you are doing then it is much easier to be a person of integrity. It’s hard to be fearful if you have a good sense of what your end goal looks like and have no doubts that this is the correct course of action.

If you’ve done things properly then the only thing you need to do is focus on the step that is right in front of you.

Faith is often brought up in the religious sense, but that is not what I am talking about here. I’m talking about having faith in your abilities so strong that it is unshakable.

There is a term in sports called being a bandwagon fan. Those are the people that root for a team when they know it is good and stop watching when things get ugly. If all the players on a team actually thought this way then they would never have a winning season.

When it comes to cheering for yourself, don’t be a bandwagon fan.

So often we come up with qualifiers for ourselves, reasons to say that we can’t do something. Having access to so much information can make things worse. It’s easy to “research” our way out a goal that is entirely possible.

Information is a tool, research allows you to measure the risks involved in doing something. Neither should be the rock that any particular goal or action should stand on. A confident writer— a confident person— stands on actions and goals built upon principles.

At some point the doubts have to stop, you have to draw a line in the sand and say “fuck it” I’m capable of doing this.

That may sound like harsh language, but the confident person is bulldogish about their inner space. Yes, there are doubts, but if you adhere to all the other principles: conviction, vision and integrity then there really shouldn’t be any more questions about it.


Organizing your writing life

The writing life tends to revolve around projects not necessarily a schedule. Writers tend to think in terms of the next story, article or novel, but not necessarily how much time it takes to finish.

It’s easy to get lost in a project and lose track of time working on something that matters, but it’s also easy to get frustrated if you don’t have a clear idea about when something is supposed to be finished and what the finished product is supposed to look like.

Personal organization is essential for a writer because setting boundaries ensures that you are clear about what needs to be done, how it needs to be done and when it needs to be done. Proper planning before getting started fosters a feeling of accomplishment and removes all doubt about the necessary steps to “finish something.”

Organization basics

• Figure out what matters most to you: Before starting anything, it’s important to always work on things that really mean something to you. Without passion there won’t be the will to finish. Don’t skimp on this; really think hard what you want to spend your time doing and then commit fully to getting it done.

Define the ideal: Dreaming big means defining success in the context of an ideal situation. Think from the end first by defining what you want to achieve by completing a project then go for it. When doing this, don’t compromise. Pretend as if there are no limits on your skills and everything is going to break right for you.
In the end, real life may prevent you from achieving the exact end goal you had in mind, but it’s critical to shoot for the best possible scenario. That way you will never have any regrets about making the effort.  

Set deadlines for yourself: Projects without deadlines have no weight behind them.  People tend to prioritize tasks based on urgency so if there is no deadline then there isn’t a whole lot of motivation to finish something in a timely fashion.
I feel the most resistance when it comes to this. There is always a sense that it is impossible to rush creative process; that you can’t force a novel, short story or any creative work to completion or else it will end up being bad writing.
Part of that is true, if something doesn’t feel ready then don’t move forward until it is. That might time a week or it might take a month, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set a deadline for yourself.
Deadlines allow the creative process to keep on moving. If you know that deadline for finishing that 5000 word short story is coming up in five days you are more apt to tell yourself ‘alright if I write 1000 words each day this week then I’ll be fine.

Make a list and prioritize: A journey of 1000 steps starts with one, but you also need to know what step one is. Lists are the basic tools of any organized person because making one takes out all the indecision. A large project looks far less daunting when you you know all of the things that need to be done in order to complete it.
The best way to make a list is think of every single thing that needs to be done then prioritize them in order of first to last. After that, set a realistic timeline for completing each one.