Friday, May 20, 2011

Are you a confident writer?

Around the end of last year, I wrote a post about not raising red flags on yourself as a writer. It was all about not bringing up things that aren't relevant to pitching your story or placing your work. For instance, editors and agents typically don't care about your age, education, or gender--unless it's an important part of what you're pitching. Anyway, I recently received a comment on that post that got me thinking about how writers view themselves.

Here's the comment from Joan A.: Writers should be building themselves and their work up, not putting everything down. As a psychologist, I find that self esteem is sadly lacking in the world today.

This got me thinking that many writers seem to fall into one of these two categories:
  1. Agressively confident. This writer knows he's amazing and wants every editor and agent to know this as well. In fact, he expects them to know this before he even bothers to pitch his story. I don't like to work with anyone who's significantly cockier than I am.
  2. Apologetic. These writers pitch stories as if they can't make eye contact and seem to apologize for all their shortcomings before the editor or agent even asks any questions. In fact, they almost seem to apologize for even bothering to write at all. As an editor, I can't trust a writer who can't trust himself.
Most successful freelancers I know find a comfortable spot between these two extremes--both of which put the spotlight on the writer instead of the writing. These writers are confident in their abilities, but they don't take anything for granted. These writers keep their pitches focused on their stories instead of themselves, and that's the kind of confidence editors like myself want to see.


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womenswrites said...

So true! Great post Robert! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Excellent advice, Robert. A great message for new and aspiring writers, and a great reminder for established ones. Balance, in so many aspects of life, is a tricky thing to perfect.

Jessica McCann
Author of the novel All Different Kinds of Free

Anonymous said...

Invaluable piece of advice. :)

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone.