How do you see yourself as a writer? If you have a poor self-image and think everything you write is below par, you’ll never take risks or send out submissions. Conversely, if you’re convinced that your writing is perfect and above being critiqued, you’ll never improve, learn, or make rewarding professional connections. The way you perceive your writing (and yourself) can play a huge role in whether or not you succeed in your career. Take our quiz to get a better understanding of your self-image and confidence as a writer.
When you look back on your early writing, you think:
a) Wow, I sucked. I probably still suck and just don’t know it.
b) Wow, I’ve come a long way since I started out. And I bet I’ve still got lots to learn! Bring it on!
c) There are no real differences between my early writing and what I’m doing now. Why should there be?
You’re really hoping for an acceptance letter from a certain person when the rejection arrives in your inbox. You think:
a) No surprise there. My writing isn’t very good anyway. I don’t know why I try.
b) Oh well. I guess my work wasn’t a good fit for that person. But I believe in my writing enough to keep trying.
c) That person’s an idiot for rejecting me. In fact, most people in publishing are idiots. That’s why I’m not published yet!
A few members of your writing group have lots of “feedback” (aka criticism) for you regarding your latest work. You:
a) Don’t say a word. There’s no point in defending your writing. If it’s bad, it’s bad.
b) Thank them for their feedback and say you’ll give their suggestions a go. Worst-case scenario, you’ll revert to your original draft. But in the meantime you’ll have a good writing exercise.
c) Spend ten minutes trying to explain to them why they’re missing your point.
A fellow writer is beaming over winning a writing contest. You:
a) Say congrats, but you’re too wrapped up in your own misery to actually feel happy for that person.
b) Offer a hug and share in that person’s joy, knowing that your day is coming soon.
c) Aren’t all that impressed and wonder how on earth such a thing could have happened. Clearly the judges have poor taste.
You read an article about a trendy new style/topic that editors are buying up. You:
a) Feel like a loser since you’re not writing about that subject.
b) File the information away as “useful,” but you aren’t going to change what you’re writing now.
c) Whip out your own trendy piece as fast as you can, and let agents/editors worry about revising it.
You join a publishing trade organization that specializes in your interests. You:
a) Miss the first meeting because you have work. Then the second because of a sore toe. Then the third because it’s cold and you don’t want to go outside, etc.
b) Look at it as an opportunity to network and learn more about your craft.
c) Show up on your first day with the intention of selling as many of your self-published books as possible. Because why else would you be here with these people if not to make money?
You’ve just finished your first draft of a piece that you feel very passionate about. You:
a) Put it under your bed and forget about it.
b) Put it aside for a while so that when you come back to it, you can look at it with more objectivity.
c) Submit it immediately; you don’t really like the revision process anyway.
If Your Answers Are…
You may be judging yourself too harshly or comparing yourself too closely to other writers. Instead, work at developing a healthy self-image as a writer. Remember: Every writer is a new writer at some point. And every writer suffers the writing blues. The key is finding the strength to believe in yourself. Focus on what you love—the work of writing, the creativity that comes with self-expression, the actual act that gets you to put your butt in the chair every day—and you’ll take the first step toward a healthier self-image. Need a little help? Check out our book The Happy Writer.
You’ve got a great self-image as a writer. You’re realistic, forward-thinking, and positive. You believe in yourself, but you also understand that there’s always something new to learn. Your good attitude means that you’re able to make career-advancing connections through networking with others. You’re on your way!
You could be hiding behind a shield of cynicism and bitterness to protect deep feelings of fear or inadequacy. Without an attitude adjustment, you may find it hard to connect with publishing industry professionals or other writers. And a know-it-all attitude will keep you from learning anything new and advancing to the next level. The good news? It’s never too late to start over.