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Believe In Yourself – On Writing

I’ve been writing fiction since I was thirteen years old. Finished my first (no doubt very bad) fantasy novel when I was almost fifteen. I’ve known since I had to stop dancing that I was going to be a writer. It wasn’t a vague wish, it wasn’t a nebulous dream, it was, “I’m going to be Anne McCaffrey one day.” It eventually grew to be, “I’m going to be Joss Whedon/GRR Martin,” but I’ve always been very specific about my dreams.

I thank my Mother for that (among many other things). From when I was little, she hung up posters along the lines of: If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it,” which I didn’t even know was a quote from an actual person until just now (William Arthur Ward if you’re curious). I just thought they were posters. She always believed in me. (She’s been saying for 20yrs now that I’m going to buy her a house with my royalties.) Honestly, it irritated me many, many times just how adamantly she believed that I would become a successful writer. How dare she be proud of me when I hadn’t accomplished anything? Yeah well. That was pretty much my 20’s. I was angry about a lot of things back then.

So I’ve had a few novels published now and placed in a few script contests the last several years, but I’m not exactly burning up the Amazon or New York Times Best Seller lists. Had a few years of being completely discouraged and not writing anything, but I always come back to the blank page. It’s a torturous passion that I literally can’t stop. When I’m not writing, I’m dreaming about plots in actual dreams at night. While I’m writing one thing, an idea for something else entirely crops up. Writing is not the problem. Neither is writing well, to be honest.

All of that being said, it took a business planning session (she faked me out with a lunch invite darn it) with a friend to make me realize just how much intellectual property (IP) I have. I never even thought of my writing as intellectual property before that moment; they were just my books and stories. She also pointed out that I had no business plan. I’m IP heavy and business planning light. I can write until the day I die (and will), but without an actual plan, no one’s gonna see nothin.

And that’s when I realized that I didn’t truly believe in myself. Oh, I believe that I’m a good writer, but if I don’t back that up with, you know, adulting, my career won’t happen. Hey, I could’ve never come to that realization. Better late than never, right?

This is where really believing in yourself and your writing comes in. Between hotel/airfare/registration, not even counting food/taxis/miscellany at the time of the event, I shelled out almost $2500 for the Writers Digest Conference coming up in August. That’s a lot of money for me. It’s a lot of money for most people these days, I suspect.

This conference is an opportunity that can’t be missed if I’m serious about a career in writing. It’s about meeting people and learning from the pros. It’s about making friends who have the same goals and taking steps to produce results. It’s also about access, because agents and managers will also be on-site. These are all things people serious about their writing do. If you stop learning, you might as well stop writing. (Really. You should see all the books on my shelves about writing.)

I’m not saying you have to attend one of these things, of course. You could self-published and explode from word of mouth. Or you could strike it lucky from a query and get an agent/manager and a six-figure deal. I’m no longer holding my breath waiting for that to happen. I believe in my writing and myself enough to spend more money than I’m comfortable spending on myself for anything other than medical reasons.

All of this is to say believe in yourself and your writing enough to take chances and opportunities when they present themselves. And when they don’t show up, create them.

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About Nancy M. Griffis

Author and screenwriter who loves scifi/action/adventure/urban fantasy genres. I have two published novels, Mind Games and Eternal Investigations, as well as a short story published for charity called "Home Fires Burning." All are available through amazon.com and barnesandnobles.com.

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Nancy at the Tim Burton exhibit in L.A.

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