“Bad writers tend to have self-confidence, while the good ones tend to have self-doubt.”
There’s not other way to explain this other than to come out and say it: I don’t write because it gives me confidence about writing. I write because it gives me confidence about myself, my abilities, and the control that I have over my life. Bukowski, with all due respect, can stick it.
As I’m writing this, I’m coming off of an hour-long word sprint where I laid down about 1,600 words toward the current project. For a first raft, I’m happy with what I cranked out. It’s not perfect and it needs polish, but it’s done. That’s 1,600 more words than the people who didn’t write because they would rather be good than be done wrote while twisting themselves into knots because they lacked the confidence to put themselves out there.
That said, I do know that there’s a difference between a productive writer and an objectively good writer. That doesn’t mean that I have to be wracked with self-doubt over the quality of my work. I can be happy with where I am now, and proud of the progress that I have made, and be content that what I have churned out is the absolute best work that I am capable of, and still want to improve my craft. I’m not going to flog myself because this little essay isn’t on par with the brilliance of David Foster Wallace or Ernest Hemingway or ol’ Chuck Bukowski. I have the self-confidence that I can get better, and to do that I need the confidence to keep trying.
I brag, less than humbly, about my accomplishments even if Bukowski would likely dismiss me as a bad writer. I put my stuff out there. I have a lot of best sellers in the little niche that I write in because I had the confidence to put my work out there, confident that even if it wasn’t perfect if was good enough, it was useful and entertaining and worthy to be seen. I take my validation not from critics but from people who spend money on my writing, and that fact that I pay my bills with my bad writing. At the end of the day, I have had more words published than the brilliant artist who was so filled with self-doubt that they never let the world see what that had written.
You can read more about Why I Write here.