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Confidence Is Key Whether You Are A Young Novice Or Writing In Your Retirement

Apr 13, 2008
Self confidence is an essential ingredient in building a wanna-be writer's success.

Young writers have energy and enthusiasm and hopefully the ability to succeed in this challenging field. Retirees bring a lifetime of experience and professional knowledge to the task. Harnessing any of those attributes requires self-confidence.

Unfortunately, no matter what their age, many would-be authors find their self confidence withers when they actually sit down to write and come face-to-face with a blank computer screen.

There's a very simple secret to developing a positive self-image as an author. Write, write and write some more. Well known novelist Lawrence Block states it well, "We develop (writing) by practicing it. Whatever writing we do helps us to become better writers."

The Secret is Discipline

Lawrence Block is right, but sitting down at your computer every day for a prescribed period of time requires discipline. The commitment really is not terribly demanding. While most professionals write anywhere from four to six hours a day, you can comfortably turn out a finished book by devoting no more than two to three hours to the task daily. But you must be meticulous about sticking to your routine.

Age Isn't a Factor

When starting on this new venture, don't ever allow yourself to feel that age is a deterrent to writing well. Quite the opposite is true, and that should help to build your confidence. The basic tools required to turn out quality work are the same whether you are 60, 70 or even a 16-year-old teenager.

Younger wanna-be's may not have the lengthy experience, but they do have the drive and the get-up-and-go that I mentioned earlier. Their comfort level with the digital world is a huge advantage.

A retiree has gained knowledge and should gain confidence from years of hands-on involvement in his/her career or from personal activities like raising a family. If you've enjoyed a lifelong hobby, you have expertise that comes only from having watched your favorite pastime develop over the decades.

No matter what you choose to write about, looking back from your "senior perch" gives you a unique perspective on life and a level of experience that will impress an editor or a literary agent.

Set Your Own Routine

A lot of us bridle when we hear aggravating catch words and phrases like stick-to-itiveness or keep your nose to the grindstone. They bring back memories of grammar school homework and our parents' admonitions. But sticking to a disciplined schedule of writing is the only effective gateway to building your skills as an author. You can set your own routine, one that is comfortable for you. But you must follow it conscientiously.

In the magazine Poets & Writers,Professor David Galef states that he once polled a group of writers at an artist colony. They generally agreed that "persistence is almost as important as talent." The professor adds, "Writers need a daily regimen--waiting for the thunderbolt is too uncertain."

Returning to the computer day after day can be a lonely and at times trying experience, requiring a good bit of self-discipline. No one expects you to spend all of your free time at this task. Indeed, few writers do. All work and no play makes Jack a very dull author.

You obviously have many other activities programmed into your daily routine. You'll have lots of time to enjoy them while devoting just two to three hours a day to this new and exhilarating activity.

Discipline Can Be Fun

Discipline isn't a negative. If you stop and think, you'll realize that our lives are totally routinized...disciplined. We shower daily, we brush our teeth before heading to bed, we have to dress every day before going out, etc, etc. These activities become part of our being. We do them without thinking about them. They are an intricate part of our lifestyle, and writing can be too.

Every morning, I look forward to the time I can devote to my computer. It is a joy, an escape; not a chore. You'll quickly discover that. Sit down and let your thoughts pour onto the screen. Forget concerns about style or quality. Get started. Put your ideas on paper. Drop any inhibitions, and let the words roll freely.

Once you've expressed your thoughts, it's easy to go back and polish the prose. That's what rewriting and editing are all about, and the reason they play so major a role in every writer's routine.

The great Ernest Hemingway used to pride himself on the number of revisions he made to his work. He likened it to polishing a fine gem, and frequently rewrote his text as many as ten times.

Facing The Competition

If you need an additional stimulus to chain you to the desk chair, try this experiment. Peruse the books and articles that are being published today. I guarantee that you will quickly build confidence in your own abilities. Although much of what's available on bookstore shelves is well written and interesting, the number of poorly crafted works that really don't deserve space is shocking.

Once you discover that, you'll realize that you can write as well as and probably better than many of the authors who have been lucky enough to find themselves a publisher and reach those bookstores shelves. You will be convinced that yes, you too can become a published author.

So set the routine. Carefully select what you plan to write about, and begin. You'll be amazed at how quickly your confidence will blossom and your words will begin to flow.
About the Author
Need a support system to help jump start your writing career? See what's available free on http://www.retirement-writing.com. Charles Jacobs' latest book "The Writer Within You" is a Best Books of 2007 honoree and a 5-star choice.Click on http://www.retirement-writing.com/The_Writer_Within_You.aspx .
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