Writing About Writing: Believing In Yourself

“You’re too hard on yourself.”

“I’m sure it’s better than you think it is!”

“You just need to believe in yourself!”

These are the kinds of things some people in my life like to tell me. Most, if not all of them, come from people who are not writers.

The thing about confidence is that there’s a huge difference between confidence in yourself and confidence that a specific project you’ve done is good. If anything, there’s an inverse relationship between the two. Because I believe myself to be a good writer, I oftentimes don’t have a ton of confidence in specific scripts. There’s almost always a nagging thought of “I could do better” in the back of my mind.

Personally, I have yet to meet a single writer I respect who displays a lot of confidence in specific projects. Most of them talk about their work simply by saying “Here’s a thing I did” or “Here you go.” I don’t trust writers who talk too much about how good their writing is. When I meet one who talks about their finished scripts in a “well, I guess that’ll do” sort of tone, that’s when I think maybe they know what they’re talking about and actually have some skills.

Now, this is not to say that I think it’s a wise idea to obsessively revise the same script over and over again, because it isn’t. I’m simply saying that believing in yourself and your ability to write good scripts is different than believing that scripts you’ve already written are amazing. If you believe you’re a good writer, you’re probably never going to silence the voice inside your head that says “but wouldn’t it be better if _____ happened?” However after a few drafts you probably will reach a point where any more revising won’t improve the script enough to really be worth your time, and you’d be better off investing that time in a fresh script.

Don’t strive for that point where you think your script is perfect. Because the moment you do is the moment you STOP believing you can do better. And the best writers never get there.

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