Writers are notorious for suffering from Imposter Syndrome, writers’ block, and chronic procrastination. I, myself, struggle with these neuroses every day. They never completely go away, but I have discovered how to become a more confident writer.
I started writing ten years ago, having virtually no idea what I was doing. Although I managed to finish a few novels and novellas, I knew there were issues with my writing. The problem was, I couldn’t tell what they were.
In 2019, I finally decided to take my writing seriously and signed up for my first writing class—Contemporary Dark Fiction with Richard Thomas. He’s the award-winning author of three novels, three short story collections, two novellas, and over 150 short stories.
Required reading for the class was four novels, sixteen articles, and sixteen short stories. The work included weekly writing assignments, four complete short stories (one per month), four analyses of the assigned novels, and critiques of the eight other student’s monthly stories. We also met once a week on video conference to discuss the week’s material.
I do not have a college degree. What little I knew about fiction I learned from reading my favorite authors and Google. To say this class was intimidating was an understatement!
But I dove into it and was amazed at my output. There was something about putting up my hard-earned money and being forced to deadlines that made me push myself beyond my perceived limits. The analysis of the stories, the exploration of what other writers were doing, and the giving and receiving of feedback from the students, especially from Richard Thomas himself, advanced me more in four months than all I’d learned on my own the seven years prior. I went into that class a bumbling novice and came out the other side feeling like, hey, I think I can do this!
Since working with Richard Thomas, I have fast-tracked my writing career and have accumulated a body of quality work. Four of the short stories I wrote in his classes have been accepted by notable anthologies. Now that I’ve earned professional rates for my stories, I was able to become an active member of the Horror Writers Association.
My writing style has gelled. I know what I can do, how I want to do it, and where my work belongs. I no longer look at other authors getting acceptances and being published, wondering what the secret is. When I think about how lost and unsure I was three years ago, I could kick myself for not investing in a serious writing class sooner. I’m now in my third class with Richard Thomas, his Advanced Creative Writing Workshop.
So, my advice to any new writers out there, or any writers who’ve been struggling for a long time, is to find a writing group, course, critique circle, or workshop. Do not keep doing the same things over and over again, wondering why you’re not getting anywhere.
Knowledge equals confidence. The more you know, the better you can wield your creative powers. Give your writing the chance it deserves. Keep learning, keep growing.
The beautiful thing about writing fiction is you’ll always be evolving, but it’s up to you to invest in yourself!