By Emilie Hendryx
The first year I attended the ACFW Conference I was scared stiff. Absolutely filled with nervousness and anxiety wondering what it would be like, how I would manage to form a coherent sentence before an agent, or whether I would make a complete fool out of myself. Fast-forward to my second year at the conference and I was looking forward to seeing my “writer friends” and looking forward to meeting with agents. Shocking, right?
I’d like to take a look at three areas where we can grow in confidence. These aren’t things that will change overnight and they won’t automatically mean you’re bold and fearless either. They can, however, greatly reduce your anxiety and ensure that you have a fun, profitable time at the ACFW Conference.
The first, most important area of establishing your personal confidence is to find that confidence in God. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but if you have passion to write, that passion comes from God. That doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee that you’ll get an agent or that a publishing house will want your book, but it does mean that sitting at your computer every day and pouring your heart out onto the digital page is not in vain. I think of Moses, Abraham and Sarah, or Joseph…they were all given promises from the Lord, but it was years before those promises came to fruition. That may by your story-to wait-but the waiting can be an active. The kind fueled by hope and driven by promise.
*Take a moment to stop and ask the Lord where (and why) you lack confidence. Then ask Him to build up those areas.
In Your Writing
This is easier said than done. Part of the reason you attend a conference is to gain knowledge so that you can build up confidence in your writing. But what do you do before the conference?
Prepare. Take the time to perfect your first three chapters, then your first page, then your first paragraph, then your first line. Putting in the effort to present a sparkling one sheet and polished proposal will help you have confidence in what you’re pitching.
How do you gain confidence in yourself? I believe it starts with God, builds as you gain confidence in your writing, and bursts out when you are able to let go and see the situation for what it is. There’s a phrase I like to remind myself of: agents and editors are people too. Yep, say it until you believe it. It’s true! I’ve talked with many writers who get so nervous or are so focused on getting “that one agent” that they forget who they are talking to. Another person.
It’s good to have a high regard for what agents and editors do, and how they can influence your career, but at the end of the day you should be able to relate to them on a human (and professional) level. Sure, you’ll still be nervous and that’s okay, but consider your appointments as opportunities to get to know someone new. You could walk away with interest in your book or not, but don’t put all of your hopes and dreams into one conversation. The pressure will be too great.
As creatives, we don’t want to fail. When our work is rejected it feels like we are rejected. We also like to be encouraged, and when someone likes our writing that’s a huge boost to our ego. But is that why we write? Do we pull ideas and plots from our tangled minds to have someone tell us we did a good job? Maybe, but I don’t think it should be our main focus.
I challenge you to think through these things. Start to build confidence in these areas now, so when the Lord brings you an opportunity, you are ready to accept it boldly.
Emilie lives in Washington, D.C. and fills her time with creative pursuits. She writes, runs a photography business, reads, plays guitar, and drinks too much coffee. She’s a member of ACFW and My Book Therapy and is currently working on a romantic suspense series while dreaming up a YA dystopian world on the side. Check out her blog Thinking Thoughts.