October is for Believing in Ourselves
By Amy Mercer

Amy MercerI’ve noticed that when I meet new people and they ask what I do, I tend to shrug my shoulders and mumble about being a writer. It drives me crazy every time I do it, and I wonder what happened to my pride, my confidence…yet I can’t seem to stop. I also use those phrases when I’m getting ready to head out for my early morning runs. I always tell my husband and kids, “I’m just going for a quick run,” which totally minimizes my effort, hard work, and dedication. I remember a class I took in college called “Women Writers,” and the first thing the female professor said was that no one could begin a question with, “This may be a dumb question but.” Ever since she mentioned it, I’ve noticed just how often women tend to downplay their efforts or intelligence. So, I decided that October is for believing in ourselves. Here’s how to up your confidence:

  • Introduce yourself as a writer to friends. Stand with your back straight and hold your chin high and repeat after me, “I am a freelance writer.” The more times you do it, the more comfortable you will be, and before long, you’ll realize you no longer shrug or make a joke about your career. You may even find yourself submitting more queries and entering more contests because you have come out of your writer’s closet.
  • Read, “The Ambition Condition, women, writing and the problem of success” by Anna Clark in the fall issue of Bitch magazine. Ms. Clark writes, “By not owning up to her ambitions-whether they are in the public or private realms-a writer feeds the machine that discounts the aspirations and talents of all women writers.” This essay made me get up off the couch and grab a highlighter; it is a call to action for women writers. The more comfortable you become with your ambitions, the better you’ll feel, the more you will believe in the time you spend away from your family, your housework, your friends pouring your heart into your writing life.
  • Register for a 5 or 10 k, tell your friends and family about it and ask them to come and cheer you on. Once you have people to answer to, there’s no way you’ll back down. Or start small, like me, and when you head out the door in the morning, afternoon, evening (or whenever you can grab thirty minutes to yourself)…tell the people you leave behind that you are going for a run (not a “quick one”), a walk, a yoga class, or a bike ride (whatever gets your heart rate up).


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