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Mental Reset for Writers After Receiving Contest Results

May 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

I always have to pause and reset after receiving contest results. Am I the only one who experiences this?

blog post title graphic with picture of a blank journal with hand ready to write and words underneath that say mental reset for writers after receiving contest results

Contests are wonderful ways to get feedback, get in front of agents or publishers, and stretch yourself as a writer. I have entered many and have grown as a writer because of the them. 

But every time when the contest results are out, I’m so afraid of opening up the email and reading the comments. And this year was no different. 

Last week I received my contest results email from the 2022 ACFW Genesis Contest. I did not semi-final like I did back in 2019. For a brief moment, that right there makes it hard. Did I go backwards? Shouldn’t I have not made the changes that were in the suggestions?

But alas, I can’t do that to myself.

Contest Results Do Not Tell The Entire Story

I’ve had many pairs of eyes look over my entry and the overall feedback has been positive. And as I look at the scores from the three judges, two loved it and had very little comments (one even scored it a 99 out of 100, which is something to celebrate). But the third judge. It was obvious, my style of book is not their cup of tea. And even though two out of the three were positive, it’s still such a hard pill to swallow.

Is this what it feels like to read reviews of your work?

It probably is, and maybe you have to have a mental reset after reading those too.

But keep in mind some things. What’s being judged is such a small snippet (for me it was 15 pages). Not everyone will have the same opinion (which is why there are so many different authors and books available).

So What Do You Do To Move Forward?

I’m still figuring that out. For me, I needed to give myself a few days. Then dive right back into my manuscript. Keep editing, keep writing, and work toward the next opportunity when it presents itself. Pay attention to the things where multiple people gave similar feedback. And remember the positive comments (and the fact I earned a 99 from someone!).

I even wore this shirt to help me get back into a good frame of mind.

T-shirt with the words write on

I think it’s also important to relook at the comments and feedback a few times over a period of time. Each time they sink in more. They are not as personal. And there’s something in there that you can use. After a little while, you are ready to figure out how to adapt the feedback you want to include into your manuscript.

If any of you are struggling, I encourage you. You are not the only one. And as a seasoned contest results receiver, it is never easy. But putting our work out there is never easy. Yet we trail on, because our stories are more than our feelings. They are our work (my word for the year!). And it takes work (lots and lots of work) to get them into the best shape possible before we release them.

Hang in there. Keep writing. Write On!

Denise

Denise M. Colby loves to write words that encourage, enrich, & engage. Every year, she chooses a word to focus on. Her 2021 word was Wisdom and her 2022 word is Work. She talks about how one turned into the other in her blog at denisemcolby.com. If you’d like to see more of Denise’s posts on this blog, you can check out her archives.

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When Our Confidence In Our Writing Wavers

April 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby, Writing tagged as , , ,

Have you ever had your confidence in your writing waver? Years ago I wrote something that really helped me in a very heavy doubt period. As I was discussing confidence in his artwork with my college-age son recently, I went and found this to encourage him to believe in himself. I needed the reminder as well. And I decided to share it with all of you too.

Blog Header with laptop computer, notebook, and person writing, with title When Confidence In Your Writing Wavers

Originally published on denisemcolby.com on June 6, 2017

This morning I was reading in 2 Corinthians and the following verse made me stop and pause, so I wrote it down on my handy 3×5 index card for future reference:

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.     2 Corinthians 3:5

I want to be a writer. Notice I said I want to, not I am.

I’ve only been writing things for over twenty years – either marketing copy or fiction stories. No matter which, the reality is I struggle with believing in myself. Having confidence in my writing. My takeaway from this verse is God’s telling me if I believe in him, I need to believe in myself.

After getting the kids off to school, I took a walk and the verse rattled around in my head. But for some reason the key word competence turned into the word confidence (I wonder who put that there?). As I mulled around thoughts about confidence, I knew I needed to come home and look up the word in the dictionary.

I love words. Definitions, synonyms – all of it. I also love seeing connections words have with other words.  So here’s what the website http://www.dictionary.com says about

CONFIDENCE: full trust; belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance:

And I love the example they gave in a sentence: His lack of confidence defeated him.

Is my lack of confidence in my abilities as a writer defeating me?

I think about my writing and the nudges I have had over the past five years and I know without a doubt God wants me to do this, otherwise doors would’ve closed on me long ago. However I’m not fully doing what he wants me to do because I have not had the confidence to just do it.

I’ve been saying for a while now, I would like to write devotionals. I have this strong innate desire to share hope, encouragement and God’s Word with others. What I haven’t been sure about is the how and what. So I haven’t done it, period.

When I took my walk this am something clicked and I couldn’t wait to get back home because I needed to do this right now. God has confidence in me. He has given me the desire. He’s nudging me to do this. Why have I not done this? Why?

I’m afraid – that’s why. What am I so afraid of? Putting myself out there? Looking like an idiot? Is that confidence then? I know I’m not looking for accolades, not looking for stardom. I just want to write and share my heart. But I’ve been too scared to do that. I have lacked confidence to go for it.

Then I saw the Synonyms for confidence – 1. faith, reliance, dependence.

And the Antonym – 1. mistrust.

Wow!

In a nutshell, my lack of confidence in myself (lack of faith) and the abilities God has given me (lack of faith, dependence) are holding me back from sharing something he wants me to share.

My lack of confidence is holding me back in my writing

I’m not really trusting God then, am I? If I have faith, I should have confidence in what he’s asking me to do. And I need to depend on Him when I do it.

So here I am today. Writing a devotional and setting up a specific devotional page on my website. Only God knows what will happen. I just need to have the confidence to do it (already the nagging doubts are creeping in). I must rely on God with the rest.

But wait, there’s more. When I grabbed my Bible to write in the verse, I realized I made a mistake (was it really?) and the word was competence not confidence. Oh no! Do I scrap what I just wrote? Does it even relate? See maybe I shouldn’t be doing this after all. I paused for a moment then decided to look it up:

COMPETENCE: having suitable or sufficient skill, knowledge, experience, etc., for some purpose; properly qualified:

And the Synonym: 1. fit, capable, proficient.

No antonym. Interesting. There is no negative/opposite of being competent.  You either are or you are not. I may not be the best writer, but I know I am proficient. So what am I waiting for?

Then I looked at 2 Corinthians 3:4 Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.

If God has given you skills – you are capable to use them for his glory. You just need to have the confidence through Him to do it. 

What abilities (competence) has God given you?  Where do you put your confidence?  In your own efforts, schedule, skills, voices in your head? Or do you trust God?  Do you have the confidence to put yourself out there with whatever it is?

God has given us all skills. We are all competent in something. Being competent does not need to mean you are the best at something.

Being competent means you are proficient. You can get the job done.

We should have confidence in our writing if we are proficient enough

We let our own voices tell us we are not competent because we think we need to be the best or someone does it better than us and we let it affect our confidence which in turn affects what we do.    

Everyone’s path is different and God has one he wants you to follow. He has given you these skills for a reason. You just have to have confidence in Him that He is with you every step of the way.

God believes in you and I believe in you too!

Denise M. Colby loves to write encouraging words. You can read other posts by Denise in her archives here on A Slice of Orange

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Four Steps To Face Your Fears

October 12, 2021 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

I wanted to write something encouraging this month and decided to repost one of my earliest posts from this blog titled Face Your Fear, which I wrote in 2017. I have found throughout my writing journey, I’ve had some type of fear hold me back, which manifests itself in taking a hit on my productivity and confidence in my writing. So I thought I would repost and share the four steps to help face your fears.

Four Steps to Face your Fear includes going from emotional to analytical response

Because I truly believe taking time to understand your fears each time they rear their ugly heads, can help you overcome them.

And I need the reminder myself these days.

So without further ado, here is the post.

What’s your biggest fear as a writer?  For some of you, it might be putting the ideas swirling in your mind into actual words on the paper.  For others, it might be pitching your manuscript or creating social media posts.  Whatever it is, we all have them.  And all that fear causes anxiety, worry, tension, panic, despair…you get the idea (we all write characters who struggle with these, right?). If you’re anything like me, my fears prevent me from accomplishing or completing some of my writing goals.

Four Steps To Help Face Our Fears

First, you must identify it.  Write it down.  What’s your biggest fear? Stare it straight in the face.  It’s not so scary once you look at it written out.

Second, define it a bit more.  Add another layer of thought to it.  What specifically about it makes you have fear.  Is it the entire thing or just a part or two.  And then ask yourself, why is it scary for you?

Third, debunk it.  Discover counter arguments to your fear.  Find out from other authors if they have experienced the same fear.  Soon you might realize this is a normal reaction to the process and you might even learn ideas to overcome your fear.

Fourth, push through it. Do one task which causes fear. Ask yourself —what’s the worst that can happen?  Find a writing partner who can encourage you and help challenge you to follow through. Note: You may have to do this part more than once.

My own experiment with facing my writing fears

Step #1

I decided to take a 4 x 6 index card and ask myself what my greatest fear was.  What I wrote surprised me.  In my mind, I had a general overall fear, but when I wrote it down I saw something more specific.

I don’t always sit my butt in the chair and on the surface I tell myself it’s because I don’t have time, but deep down I’m seeing now it might be because I’m afraid.  What if I sit down for an hour session and it isn’t any better than when I started?  What if I only edit through a 600 word block in that time?  I will never finish. And so on and so on….

So, for me, my fear is getting it wrong.  I want to hit the mark and soar with my writing.  I’ve entered a lot of contests and shown my work, and although I get encouraging feedback, I’m still missing the mark.  And I’m afraid it will always be that way.

Step #2

I had to ask myself what specifically about getting it wrong meant. Was it failure? Afraid of what people think?

I don’t think I’m afraid of what people think so much (although I want people to like my work), as I am wondering if what I write will ever be ready to publish. I have lots of ideas, but when I write them down, they don’t sound as great as I thought they were. And I’m afraid no matter how much time I put in, I may never achieve my goal of getting published.

All this fear and doubt affects what I do day to day. How I spend my time. My mental state when I’m writing. And I don’t want it to.

Step #3

Fight back. Who decides if it’s wrong anyway? And how do they decide? Look at how many published authors sent in their manuscript numerous times before it was accepted. It’s just part of the process.

See, by writing it down, I can find counter arguments to what my fear is telling me. And it helps calm down the panic that wants to creep in. It keeps me from letting my fear stop me completely.

Step #4

Step four says to do something to face your fear, so I need to take risks and not be so afraid of doing so. Write a blog post even if it’s not perfect and post it. Write a new scene and show someone. Get feedback and keep trying. If I don’t do any of these things, I let the fear win. There is always going to be more I can add, more to improve, so why am I waiting to hit send? Waiting doesn’t do anything but feed my fear.

Fear keeps us from our goals. Something none of us wants.

For fun, I came up with this acronym. As we know, fear is an emotional response. We need to stop reacting to our fear and work on ways to work through it. So, FACE your FEAR. Fix And Change Every Fear from Emotional to an Analytical Response.

All so we can meet our goals. We all have goals we want to achieve, right?

So take some time and write down what your fear is and then face it. You just might work through that writer’s block you’ve been struggling with.

Hugs & Blessings,

Denise

Denise M. Colby loves to write words that encourage, enrich, & engage. Every year, she chooses a word to focus on. This year her word is Wisdom. If you’d like to see more of Denise’s posts on this blog, you can check out her archives.

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Some Encouraging Words by Kitty Bucholtz

September 9, 2021 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz, Writing tagged as , ,

One of the best parts of coaching and podcasting is encouraging the person I’m talking to. It makes me happy to know I’ve given someone some extra energy and enthusiasm to keep going. I know a few people who are not writers who listen to my Encouraging Words episodes on the first Sunday of every month just because they like them. 🙂

In case you haven’t heard any of these episodes, here is the latest one asking a very important question no matter who you are — Are you focusing on the positive or the negative? I hope it gives you food for thought and gets your day and week moving in the direction that will change your life for the better!

Lots of love and hugs to you!

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Step Out of Your Comfort Zone And Challenge Yourself

July 12, 2021 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

Have you ever done something out of turn? Just you – where you had to depend on yourself completely? Step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself?

Blog header with title Step Out of Your Comfort Zone and Challenge Yourself by Denise M. Colby, brown with cream text over old wood background

Not necessarily with your writing, but with yourself.

Possibly going on a trip, or learning a new hobby.

Over the fourth of July, I got this opportunity.

I traveled for six hours by myself, driving to meet my sister to go camping. It’s been a long time since I have been in a car by myself for that much time.

What I found out about myself, was that at first it was uncomfortable. I wasn’t necessarily worried, but it didn’t feel natural. Since Covid hit, my husband and I have run errands or picked up food together. Most of the time, he drives. Rarely have I gone out by myself.

So it felt a little strange and exciting to be loading up and heading out all on my own.

There were moments on my drive where I felt unsure and maybe a little weak. 

But as I kept driving, those unsure moments turned into empowering moments. I sang at the top of my lungs to music I love, and found my mind swelling with creative ideas and thoughts related to my writing and other things I haven’t thought of in a long time.

It was such the confidence boost I needed.

I stepped out of my comfort zone and grew more confident with myself

I found it interesting to have the freedom to allow my thoughts to grow and flourish. Because I wasn’t reacting to anyone else or anyone else reacting to me, I could do that. The time was my own the entire time. 

Which I found very interesting. 

When was the last time, I could finish a thought for myself and see where it led? 

The rest of the weekend was much of the same. Camping, hiking, biking and enjoying nature. I allowed myself to experience as much as possible and when it was time to drive back another six hours, there was more confidence, more thoughts, and more positive emotions coming out of the experience.

Denise M. Colby stepped out of her comfort zone and challenged herself by driving to Mammoth to camp with her sister and hiked Sherwin Lake Trail at 8,269 feet
Camping & Hiking in Mammoth with my sister, was a great challenge that helped my creative side

So many great rewards reaped from the entire experience.

Much like I have gained from this writing experience I’ve embarked on all these years.

I stepped out my comfort zone and learned something about my writing

And a thought occured to me that much like the emotions I experienced on this trip, it was not dissimilar to my writing journey. 

There are many times I feel scared or unsure of what I’m writing or doing with my writing. Where will it all lead? Am I cut out for this? Should I stay or should I go? But like embarking on a new experience, trying something new, builds confidence and empowers us to do more. I have definitely felt that with each blog post I’ve posted, contest I’ve entered, goal or milestone I’ve achieved.

This year I have mostly stopped writing on a regular basis. This is due to the full time day work I’ve been doing, juggling my family, and trying to find balance. Mentally, my creative side was spent. But in stopping, I’m not moving forward and the scary, unsure, and weak moments (i.e. doubts) have popped up again.

And a correlation appeared. Similar to each mile I drove onward during this trip, I need to keep moving forward with my writing so that I can once again be empowered and confident in what I am doing.

So I asked myself…

What was it about the journey that was so empowering?

One of the things I liked about the journey was getting from one position to another. Moving forward. I also liked knowing the rules.

  • Traveling with other vehicles going in the same direction
    • I love sharing the writing journey with other writers
  • Showing courtesy and kindness and friendliness with each vehicle I passed or passed me
    • Cheering on my fellow writers in their own journey encourages me
  • Moving right alongside others
    • Buying a book, writing a review, providing a critique, and checking in on goals means I support you and we are in this together
  • The art of the drive
    • There is much to learn in the art of writing and it’s fun to use what I’ve learned, too
  • The game of counting down miles till I reached my destination
    • Setting milestones and reaching them encourages me to do more
  • Memories of learning by my dads side with how to read maps, understand the road, and know the codes
    • Learning from other writers helps me be a better writer and we have a shared investment in how my journey continues

And last but not least:

  • It’s all about the journey, not just the destination
    • It’s all about the journey – enjoy it and make the most of it – and embrace the little things along the way

I hope you can be encouraged to keep going on your writing journey. I know after this trip, I’m jumping back in and enjoying where I’m at and what I can still accomplish.

Blessings,

Denise

I like to write words to encourage, enrich, and engage. Check out my other posts related to Finding Motivation to Accomplish Your Goals or Why I chose Wisdom for #Myword2021.

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