Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Swaggering Fingers

“If you don’t have a sensation of apprehension when you set out to find a story and a swagger when you sit down to write it, you are in the wrong business.”
~A.M. Rosenthal




I love this quote. We all have that sense of apprehension - five minutes of blog hopping will prove it. But the swagger... that's different.


It's okay to feel apprehension while we cook our ideas. It's natural to feel apprehension while waiting for critique feedback and throughout the query process. But while we're writing, we MUST believe in ourselves and our story. While we're writing, our fingers should "swagger" across the keyboard, confident of their strokes. Quality stories require a certain level of cocky certainty.

Today, give yourself permission to feel apprehensive without guilt. But when you sit down to write - really write. Write with a swagger!


What helps you feel confident as you write?

P.S. Shannon Whitney Messenger is having another mega-monstrous giveaway at her blog. Go check it out here.

49 comments:

Christina Lee said...

Oh, I've got my swagger on today. Uh huh!!!! Love it!

Falen said...

i think i have quite a bit of swagger, Which is good,. But then when i have a moment of "i'm-not-good-itis" it seems to hit me really hard because of the swaggering i previously did.
ah well.

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

That's a great quote. And I just love the word swagger. :) I think the confidence is hard to come by sometimes, but I try to block out the doubts until after the writing session is over.

Jennie Englund said...

What gives me confidence, I learned the hard way on Sunday night, is BACKING UP MY FILES!!!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I don't know if I'm swaggering or staggering. ;) Had a couple of days of writing rush and now feeling wrung out. But this is an excellent quote and post. Thanks.

K. Harrington said...

I think writerly confidence comes from working on a piece that YOU would want to read. Does anything else matter? (well, getting paid to write is nice, but....)

Swaggerly yours,

Scobberlotcher

Dawn said...

I absolutely love this. Despite some amazingly supportive friends and fellow writers, I often lack the "swagger". I'll be using this phrase going forward. Love it.

Aubrie said...

How to drum up more swagger? Hmmmmm...I need more of that myself!

Jana Hutcheson said...

Hey, Shannon! I left you an award on my blog today! Thanks for taking the time to encourage me!

Elana Johnson said...

I don't know what makes me feel confident when I write. Crap! Maybe I need to figure that out. Maybe that's why I can't seem to get a handle on my story. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Okay. I'll stop making excuses now. Ha ha!

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Shannon, when I've been mulling over an article or a scene or a chapter or column ideas during the day, even if it's not fleshed out to the final detail, when at last I have a chance to sit down at my computer and make specks on a blank page, it's then I typically feel a bit of a swagger. I think being prepared helps us get into that wonderful groove all writers have known at one point or another.

Tracy said...

I was getting ready to say that I don't think I have swagger when I write. That I see it more like being God in my own little universe of characters.

Then I realized, comparing yourself to God in any context takes a tremendous amount of swagger.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

My confidence is in the Lord. I shudder to think what my writing would be like if I was left to my own devices.

Lori W. said...

Shannon, your blog popped up first in my reader like a gift from above. I was taking a little break from writing and this quote is *exactly* what I needed. Apprehension has been killing me as I've worked on today's pages. Thanks for this post! Now, back to work, taking deep breaths and knowing it'll be o.k. :)

Katie Ganshert said...

Great quote! It's good to know I'm not the only one who feels apprehensive when I'm trying to plot out a story!

Jen said...

I think being able to bounce ideas off my husband allows me the inspiration to let the words flow onto paper. Also allowing the story to marinate for awhile before writing anything down seems to prevent me from too much writer's block!!!

Great post Shannon as usual!

Lydia Kang said...

Having an idea of what I want to write that day, and a clear path to the goal. That give me swagger.
Great post!

B. Miller said...

Yes... excellent post! Confidence is so important to weaving a convincing tale. Yeah, let me strut a little! :D

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

When I am confident, that is when my voice shines through.

Carolyn V. said...

I think what helps me as a writer is when my readers say, "Wow, that was fun to read." That always puts me on cloud 9! =)

KM said...

I love the idea of fingers swaggering! That would definitely be something to see. ;)

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

Having positive feedback helps me feel confident. That isn't to say that my writing never has problems, but knowing that it's not a total piece of trash really makes it worthwhile.

Watery Tart said...

I probably have a swagger more often than I really deserve... I am sort of a 'wing it' gal, and my confidence is mostly in tact... with a few timely exceptions... Querying really takes the micky out of me, as (frequently) does editing. And 4/5 books I've written, at about the 3/4 mark, I hit a 'what the hell was I thinking' phase... 3/5 times by the END I am happy again (a couple endings need some reworking and never were easy. Only one book wrote itself start to finish... (it may be why I'm afraid to get to editing... it was such a GREAT experience)

Mary Aalgaard said...

I allow myself to get emotionally involved with my own story. I laugh. I cry. I worry. If I can feel that way about something that I'm creating, I believe other people will too.

Lisa_Gibson said...

That is a great quote! I like to think about my fingers swaggering across the keyboard. :) I like listening to my favorite music when I write. Gives my fingers something to dance to also. ;)

Creepy Query Girl said...

Hmn, good question. What helps me to be confident? letting the characters really be themselves without worrying what an outside eye might think or feel. Writing and first and foremost for myself always puts a swagger in my proverbial step:)

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Great quote. What makes me confident as I write? Hmmm, knowing I'm capturing a story. Failing that, a bar of chocolate after a long writing/editing session. ;)

sarahjayne smythe said...

Great quote, great post. And I agree. I'm just having a little trouble getting my swagger on lately. :)

Helen Ginger said...

Hearing my characters talking in my head makes me feel confident as I write.

Helen
Straight From Hel

Tina Laurel Lee said...

This is a great post! And I have to say that sometimes I don't feel confident when I write (especially the last few days). But I often think that something is happening underground when I lose my confidence. I am a feeling writer instead of a thinking writer so I usually can't articulate what I need to work on or when when it comes, why it is fixed. Oh well, it always swings back and I've come to accept it. Thanks for the quote, IT IS MARVELOUS!

Theresa Milstein said...

LOVE this quote. It's so true. I've pulled the quote to use in a future blog (and when I do, I'll like your post to mine).

Nothing specific makes me confident. I have good days and bad days. The reasons for the bad ones are easier to figure out, like rejections or a bad critique.

I wear a special necklace that reminds me I'm a writer. Sometimes that helps.

Tahereh said...

great post, shannon! (as usual!)

i think i get my confidence from my characters. they just feel so REAL to me -- i NEED get their stories out. sometimes i don't even think about it.

<333

Mary Campbell said...

Write with a swagger - I like that. I think I wrote that way this morning, but mostly have to give credit to the prayer I said before I begin - the apprehension was too strong.
That book I Am Not A Serial Killer is YA and I think you would really like it, but I also think your Male students will love it.

Cheree said...

Great quote. I think knowing that my characters know where they're going makes me confident. If that doesn't work then it's always a White Mocha from Starbucks, that does the trick.

Faith Pray said...

Good call. I'll aim for more swagger in the writing room!

Jamie D. said...

My "swagger" comes when I stop thinking about who else will be reading, and just focus on writing for me. When I'm writing what I like, what makes me happy, I'm confident that I can't possibly do it wrong.

Perhaps that's why I like drafting so much better than editing/revising? ;-)

Michelle said...

Great quote - great question.
I think I feel what my writing is saying and it compels me to go on.

Abby Annis said...

Great quote! Can't say I'm mentally equipped to answer your question today, but some days that confidence is overflowing. :)

L.T. Elliot said...

I think I need a little more swagger. ;)

Jonathon Arntson said...

I find confidence in the thought of having a reader. Just one reader with a hardcover copy of my book in this/her hands.

Hell, I'd be happy with an ebook version.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love that quote! I need to get a little more swagger - but I'm working on it!

Alyson said...

What makes me confident is that I love what I write. I don't write something I kinda, sorta think is a interesting story. I commit fully and have a wonderful time getting lost in my own little world. Then I reread it and have a nervous breakdown. ;o)

storyqueen said...

Love the swagger!

What a great quote.

Shelley

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

We're supposed to have confidence and a swagger? UGH...I just hope to not have any spelling mistakes.

Sandy Shin said...

Great quote! Time to put the swagger in my writing. :)

VR Barkowski said...

In draft stage, I have no swagger. But when it comes to editing and with each pass the ms gets better and better, watch out, here I come!

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

Funny, I've never thought about it. I guess I don't feel any until someone reads it and likes it. Hmm ... that's sad.

Sara McClung ♥ said...

omg I love it =)

Um, also I love the swagger! When you feel that magic while you're pounding out on the keyboard. Sure, sometimes that swagger leads to crap, you know how first drafts go after all. But man does it feel AWESOME when you're *thinking* it's magic...

Terresa said...

"Swagger" -- that word makes me smile.

I just returned from a 2 day writer's conference, the biggest I've attended yet. It was divine, and yes, there was some writerly swaggering going on, especially @ the awards ceremony. It was fun stuff!!!

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