Gotta Have Faith

Self-belief. One of the most important qualities to have if you want success in any career. I think some are born with it and some acquire it from life experience or other people.

In my case, I partly thank my mother for the belief she had in me as a child. Her mantra was that I could achieve ANYTHING I wanted. Of course, I would have to work hard to achieve my targets, and there would be disappointment along the way, but her faith gave me a great gift – an intrinsic sense of valuing myself and my abilities. I’ll always be grateful for that and truly believe the words below, on my new favourite coffee coaster.

Life experience, too, has helped me achieve my aim of becoming a published author. Look back on your life and I’m sure you’ll find examples of challenges you have faced and got through. For me, let’s see… going to university. I chose one hundreds of miles away from home. I chose one of the best courses in the country, for what I wanted to study. In retrospect, perhaps those decisions were ill-judged. I ended up suffering from a stress-related illness. However, I was determined not to waste my years of study. I gritted my teeth and got through the finals. Ultimately, this made my sense of self-belief grow.

And then I got married and brought up kids. Committing to a partner and rearing off-spring have further increased my belief that I can achieve great things. Both have been a challenge. Both have moved me out of my comfort zone. Before meeting my husband none of my relationships lasted longer than a matter of months. As for nurturing kids, I couldn’t keep any plant alive before they came along, not even a cactus!

And I think that is one of the keys to self-belief – pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. You’ll surprise yourself if you do and it will boost your self-confidence.  I blogged about that here.

It can be hard to keep going. I tried to give up writing along the road to publication, but couldn’t. I used to always think that was simply because it was my passion. But now I know it is also because I had a stubborn, underlying sense of faith. Take the editorial report I once had done, on one of my unpublished novels that is now under the bed. The person who wrote it used expressions such as “what on earth made you think that would work?” It knocked my confidence. Yes, I wept! And I didn’t write – for about one week. But I came back from this sense of devastation that momentarily made me think I’d never see a book of mine in a shop.

Then there was the agent who showed huge interest in my work. They kept in touch. Asked for my next manuscript. However, when they didn’t like it, their tone of rejection was extremely brusque. This experience knocked me sideways – us creative people are sensitive souls. But ultimately, it helped toughen my skin and fed that faith I had in myself.

Just one word of caution though. A sense of reality MUST go hand-in-hand with this self-belief. Take my recent fitness campaign. I now cycle every morning. If you’d told me I’d be doing that a couple of years ago, I would have laughed you all the way to the cake counter! But now I’m out there, pedalling along the streets, every morning before the rush hour. But only for twenty minutes. And not at great speed. I’m no Bradley Wiggins, but I have achieved my target of getting and feeling fitter. I’m me. Doing the best I can. And the same applies to my writing. The dizzy heights of success achieved by JL Rowling and the ilk are so exceptional and I must remind myself of that!

In my latest novel, The New Beginnings Coffee Club, Jenny’s life falls apart. She must start from scratch. Provide for her daughter. Find her own  path in life. It’s scary and the story is about seeing her grow and find the self-belief to become the person life always intended her to be.

I recently heard an expression: “Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there.
Believe in yourself – because it may be a while before anyone else does and it will give you the courage to carry on carrying on. Just keep on writing and learning and submitting your work. You WILL get there. You WILL fulfil your potential.

6 comments

  1. Daisy James says:

    Fab post,Sam. I absolutely agree – my mantra has always been – Just keep swimming, just keep swimming! Love Daisyx

  2. Terry Tyler says:

    This is great, Sam! Your determination and hard work in all that you do should be enough to make anyone get off their a**es 😉

    As far as writing goes, though, there is the question of talent, too…. think of all those X Factor contestants who spend money on voice coaches, practice and practice, but will never have more than a forgettable singing voice. Working for a review team, one comes across those whose confidence in their abilities outweighs their actual flair for the written word. In fact, I’ve usually found that the less cocky the writer, the better the book!!

    I suppose this is where your self-belief versus reality comes in….! And what your aims are.

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Thanks Terry! I agree about some self-deluded TV talent show contestants… those who think success really can be achieved overnight without any external help or sweat and tears. But I wonder how many really poor singers there are who have voice coaches and practise, really practise a lot. If they do have that help, and don’t improve, then I think some of the fault lies with the coach. All writers (well most of us 😀 ) need editors – to show us how to improve. To tell us where we are going wrong. And, if we are an aspiring writer, who still isn’t there, to not take us on but send us away to learn more. Hemingway once said you need to write one million words before being good enough to get published. I added up once and it took me around that many, before I got my deal (novels under the bed etc). I agree, you do need that talent – but I think self-belief can definitely help you achieve your potential and be the best you can be – like you say, that just might mean keeping it real and accepting you’ll never sing like Whitney. And yes, all our aims are different. And with your success, you must have achieved many of yours!
      Thanks for popping by 🙂

  3. Sue Blackburn says:

    Inspiring lady again. It’s never, ever give up isn’t it if you have that innate faith you have the ability to do it. Suppose that’s where it’s self belief, plus perhaps other people’s opinions that you respect, that you do have the talent. A wonderful lady writer and critic who I adored had faith in me and once sent me a sticker saying Of Course You Can Write which I still have pinned to my computer. I think if you have people who believe in you it helps your self belief doesn’t it too.
    Oh crumbs – I’ll stop rambling now and just say once again fab inspiring post lovely lady 🙂 xx

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Aw thank you, Sue 😀 And yes, I think you make a very good point. I remember with my first book, years ago, the rejections came in but one agent scribbled one sentence “you write well” (after rejecting!) and that was enough to make me start my second book. xx

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