The Bravery Block

Confidence or courage?

Which do you need to be a writer?

Let’s start with some definitions

Confidence, according to google is a sense of self assurance arising from a belief in ones own abilities or qualities. Courage is defined as the ability to do something that frightens you.

In practice, you need a measure of both to take ideas out of your head and put them in to words, and then put those words out into the world with the express purpose of their being read.

It seems like an act of arrogance doesn’t it? To believe that your words and ideas are not only valuable, but also sought for and needed by others. To act on the belief that you do indeed KNOW and that your knowing is worth the paper and ink used to print it, not to mention the money that might be paid by your readers for the privilege of owning them.

As writers, we believe these things about ourselves at some point along our journey (ok, at many points along our journey, let’s be honest) but I want to invite you to stop and consider the words of your most beloved author. Do you believe them to be arrogant for putting their ideas into words, onto paper and out into the world? Do you begrudge your having had to pay money for the privilege of owning their work? Quite the contrary. I know that there are some works that I have read that have been positively life changing for me and I am floored by the courage I believe they must have had to create them with the intention of other people reading them, and maybe even changing their lives.

So why do we doubt our own value? What stops us? In the beginning perhaps it is confidence. We have no track record, and so we are doing something we are entirely untested at and the gremlins GET LOUD in an effort to stop us doing something that is potentially mortifying. The etymology of that word is fascinating, obviously rooted in “death” with the root mort. Our subconscious is keeping us safe, or it’s trying anyhow. It knows that in order to become the writer you are, parts of you have to “die”. We fear death. Helloooo lizard brain. Oldest and most primitive human emotion – FEAR.

This is where courage comes in. As you start to put your words down and out, you will need to call on courage. You’re afraid. That is a GOOD THING. It means you are on to something that is going to foster growth. Being afraid, doubting yourself, is not a shortcoming, but I really am beginning to believe that failing to act because of it IS.

As you move through the fear, you begin to carve new neural pathways into your amazing brain. This takes energy and effort, and feels like fear and resistance. Push against it. Lean in. Every time you do this, you will get stronger, and your confidence will grow.

In the end, the answer to how to create confidence is to have courage and act. The more you do, the more confident you will become.

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