We all do it. It is so much easier to think we CAN'T do something, than to actually do the hard work to accomplish something BIG.
Ever since I can remember I have dreamt of writing children's books. But prior to last year I also thought I didn't have the ability. I had written mainly poetry, with an occasional essay, for years but I began to listen to the people around me who decided I didn't have what it took to write. THEY underestimated my writing ability and I believed them. I put my pen down for over 20 years and lived the belief that I was unworthy to be called a writer.
At the beginning of 2010 I began to think differently. I had just overcome a potentially deadly medical issue and was on the slow, two year, road to recovery. It's times like these that make a person re-evaluate their lives and I saw in mine the urge to write had never really been stamped out. I might have buried it under years of self-doubt, but I had never been able to quite extinguish the desire. So in early 2011 I began to write again. My first story was about a special kind of dog...much like the one in the picture above. Yes, I was still doubting my ability, but I wanted to put aside those thoughts and not underestimate the power within me to write.
I finished that first story and I can't begin to describe the joy I felt. I had started on a journey not knowing how it would end and managed to complete the first draft of a story that I could actually envision being a children's book someday. And what felt even better is that I took a leap of faith and submitted my story to a publishing company. After all that I have learned since then, I'm actually embarrassed now that I sent out that "unpolished" story, but I'm sure we all have those first "goofs" as a new writer. It wasn't ready to be sent out into the world. New writers can only learn from those mistakes and use them as a learning curve. It didn't matter that the story was rejected, what mattered is that I no longer underestimated my own ability to be a writer. Now all I had to do was learn to improve on the gift that I had been given.
So I started reading everything I could get my hands on about perfecting the actual craft of writing. My house began to look like a writer's resource library and my bookcase quickly filled up with everything from how to develop strong characters to writing a stellar query letter and everything in between. I would write almost daily and culled the negative people from my life who still underestimated my writing ability. You know the kind...people who are too afraid to chase after their own dreams, so they try to hold you back from pursuing your own.
In November of 2011 I joined both the annual PiBoIdMo event (A brainchild of Tara Lazar that gave me the chance to encourage the child in me to come out and play. Thanks, Tara!), as well as NaNoWriMo (The challenge to write a first draft novel of at least 50,000 words in one month) and again it was a chance to not underestimate my own ability to create something BIG.
I did what was necessary by listening to the wisdom of those great writers who came before me to improve my own writing. Then I concentrated on writing both the best novel I could as well as filling my PB notebook with as many creative ideas as possible. By the end of November not only was I three quarters of the way through my young adult novel, but I had 45 picture book ideas to work with! And what made my victories all the sweeter is when a good friend of mine (who first said he didn't like the idea of my YA novel) sent me an email yesterday saying "wow", that not only was my story deeper than he would have expected, but it was also a type of story he wouldn't normally have read but now he couldn't wait to see how the story ended! Even my good friend UNDERESTIMATED me...lol...
So, what does my own story have to do with YOU? Hopefully you will not let others dictate where you go in the new year with your own writing. Maybe you won't let others underestimate you like I did myself all those many years ago. Maybe you won't underestimate your OWN writing ability. Let your creativity ride on the wings of a the new year and strive to achieve 365 days of personal successes...a new novel, some picture book first drafts in Julie Ledlund's 12 X 12 in 2012 (http://networkedblogs.com/qQTls), a new web site, whatever it might be to continue you on your own path to something BIG in 2012!
And if you would like a chance to win some great writing prizes to help you along, why not enter my New Years writer's contest...http://donasdays.blogspot.com/2011/12/new-yeara-new-easy-contest.html
Happy New Year everyone! Let the writing begin!