Having the Patience to Build Confidence

My focus this year is on readying books for publication, but it’s also about continuing to self-improve and silence my often cruel inner critic so as to diminish my self-doubt. I made a huge step forward recently when I took the time to congratulate myself for demonstrating patience.

In truth, I’ve long been patient, but seldom have I given myself credit for being so. I also often failed to recognize all that it gives me in return.

How poor are they that have not patience. What wound did ever heal but by degree. ~William Shakespeare

I live alone so there’s no one I listen to more than myself. That means my self-talk is critical. It’d been negative since childhood, which meant I often didn’t realize what I was doing. When I became serious about writing it bred a vicious inner critic.

It wasn’t that I was unaware of my accomplishments, it was that my inner critic would drive them out of my head whenever I was frustrated or felt I’d fallen short of perfection (inner critics love for you to measure yourself against perfection).

*K.M. Weiland wrote a brilliant post about the writer’s inner critic recently that I can’t recommend enough. Read it. You won’t regret it.

In the summer of 2020 I began a conscious journey of self-improvement (I’ve not had a major depressive episode since). Part of that was becoming more aware of my self-talk. I’ve made a lot of headway, but my faulty inner writing critic has taken longer to remove.

A moment occurred this last week, though, that placed my patience front and center when I reaped its rewards. That, in turn, brought to mind other moments that harsh inner critic didn’t want me to remember.

You can’t know the road you’re on unless you open your eyes.

My eyes are now open.

In November 2016 while drafting A River in Each Hand, the second book in the Carrdia series, I ran into a small problem. It required a big decision, but I didn’t recognize it as such at the time.

That little problem was a single paragraph late in the story. If I included it, which I wanted to, it couldn’t be written until the later books were drafted (it’d include unique, but obscure, moments I couldn’t predict).

To wait meant closing the door on publishing until the entire series was written.

I was convinced the paragraph would enhance the scene, and even more so the series. BUT, it wasn’t necessary for telling the story in the second book. I’ve a deep love of foreshadowing and knew it’d be another element that’d later help pull the series together.

Wait to write the paragraph or skip including it?

I waited.

I’ll admit that, at the time, it was just another decision in the midst of so many others. It wasn’t until I was struggling to write the sequel that I questioned the choice. Again and again, and especially since 2020, I’ve stood by the decision.

This last week I wrote that paragraph and the moment gave me chills. After it was in place I knew—I knew!—I’d made the right decision almost six years before.

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A actual photo of my old inner critic. Courtesy: Pixabay

More than that, it opened my eyes further to all that I do right. I’ll always have more to learn, but part of diminishing self-doubt is to remind yourself of what you do well.

I kicked that inner critic to the curb and hired a new one. She’s already providing a lot of constructive feedback.

That paragraph, and far more that I’m doing as I embark on what I’m calling my Continuity Edit, is all possible because I demonstrated patience.

This is in contrast to advertisers who preach now, now, now.

This is a deeply rewarding revision of the stories. Each change I make validates my decision to stand by my long-held assertion that I valued providing a satisfying reading experience over rushing off to publication.

None of this was a case of giving myself time to do nothing. Rather, I gave myself time to enrich (developing the series as a whole), improve (my craft and worldbuilding), and learn (again, my craft). I’ve done much that I’ve routinely forgotten because that old inner critic would go on a rampage.

I’ll not forget again, and that’s the core point. I’m realizing how much I’ve improved my self-awareness while building my confidence. It’s more difficult to suffer self-doubt when that’s the case. This is a battle I’ll likely have to always wage because of my nature and past, but I know it’s possible to beat it.

About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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4 Responses to Having the Patience to Build Confidence

  1. Sara says:

    This is a wonderfully inspiring display of resilience. 💗

    • Thank you! 💖
      I do hope it helps someone who’s struggling, that maybe it nudges them to congratulate themselves for trying and for all the gains they’ve made.

      My own experience with abuse was that the disparaging voices of those who abused followed me, but so too did the attitudes they’d instilled. To take pride in my accomplishments was viewed as selfish. Even when I’d counter the negative self-talk I’d still fail to give myself credit for doing so. I’m striving to change that and hope others will do so as well. 😃

      • Sara says:

        I can relate to all of this. Those deeply ingrained messages and beliefs are so hard to rewire. The poisoning effect they have even on our successes creates a true ongoing struggle. I appreciate your perspective here. It’s helpful to see these things through the lens of others when our own perspective can get so cloudy at times. 💗

      • The rewiring I liken to re-sculpting Michelangelo’s David into a galloping horse. You’re right, too, that our own perspective can cloud. You, though, are making your way through the haze to sculpt anew. I applaud you for that. 🤗❤️

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