Practice and Confidence

It’s come to my attention over the past few weeks that having confidence in what you think you know or have learned requires practicing those things.  Otherwise, you forget that you know or have learned them.

Practice means moving, walking through the doorways you’ve opened, and doing it over and over and over again.  If you stand still, you forget what it’s like to walk through those doorways.  Then you lose the confidence that you CAN walk through them.

Barriers to your progress, barriers that you’ve already fought, will regrow unless you keep them down.  Think of them as a lawn that needs mowing once a week.  If you don’t mow for a while, then the yard looks like an overgrown jungle and walking through it is hard.

I really didn’t know I’d been standing still until I started moving again.  I was writing, so I thought I WAS moving.  And I was—but only in one area.  I was surprised when I took steps in other directions only to realize how still I’d become.  Lots of barriers I’d pushed over—or at least dented—had regrown.  Lots of grass needed to be mowed.  Doors needed to be knocked open again.

For example, I found myself facing the barrier of being afraid to show someone else what I’d written.  That’s not unusual—lots of people have trouble showing another person something they’ve been laboring over because then they’re vulnerable to opinion and criticism.  That fear stops many writers and other creative people in their tracks.  If you don’t do it regularly, it’s a lot harder to take the step.  The practice you get by letting the work go over and over again is what makes it easier to handle.  Since I hadn’t taken the step for a long time, I had to force my way through the barrier of fear again.

Then I had to order a cover for the new book and faced the barrier of doubt.  Doubt in myself, in my work, in my ability to communicate.  Doubt that I really should take the step of turning a potentiality into a reality.

In the editing process, the book is speaking for itself (for good or ill).  But with a cover brief, you are trying to communicate an entire project in a few words to people who have not read your book and probably never will.  If I don’t communicate effectively, the cover won’t be what’s needed.  I can have them make revisions, of course, but the fact is there’s the chance of I’ll waste a boatload of money if the cover is not successful and I don’t realize it.  Going through the process and not doubting yourself and what you’ve done requires practice.

The sales blurb is the same.  If you don’t write them often, you don’t practice.  You don’t have the confidence that you CAN do it.  Pushing through the barrier of insecurity.

This does not just apply to writing, but to life.  Everything we do is easier with practice, with movement, because practice and movement are where confidence grows.  You know you’ve done the thing before, over and over.  You know you can do it again.  You have recently DONE it.  But when we stop, we forget and the doors we’ve pushed open slam shut.  Fear. Doubt. Insecurity.

We are sharks.  We have to keep moving to live.  We have to keep practicing, keep shoving our way forward through the barriers again and again until the lawn is like a golf course and all of the doors are open.  That’s where the confidence comes from.  We won’t find it by sitting still.

Be the shark.




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