Here’s an inspirational scene from one of my favorite movies, Midnight in Paris. Gil Pender, a young writer on vacation in Paris, climbs into a cab at the stroke of midnight, and when he gets out, he finds himself in 1920s Paris, where he encounters many literary and artistic legends. In the following clip, Gil gets to discuss writing with Ernest Hemingway. Gil can’t resist asking for a small favor:
Gil: Would you read it?
Ernest Hemingway: Your novel?
Gil: Yeah, it’s about 400 pages long, and I’m just looking for an opinion.
Ernest Hemingway: My opinion is I hate it.
Gil: Well you haven’t even read it yet.
Ernest Hemingway: If it’s bad, I’ll hate it because I hate bad writing, and if it’s good, I’ll be envious and hate it all the more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.
Gil: You know what it is? I’m having a hard time getting somebody to evaluate it.
Ernest Hemingway: You’re too self-effacing; it’s not manly. If you’re a writer [slams table with his fist], declare yourself the best writer.
Ha! Yeah, that sounds like Ernie. And he’s right: It takes more than a little self-confidence to put your heart into a story and hit that “Send” key. You don’t know what the person judging your work is going to think. That’s scary — definitely not for the weak of heart.
Jami Gold recently addressed this in a great blog post titled “What Helps You BE a Writer?”:
Outside of any writing skill that we may or may not have, we also bring other aspects of ourselves to the writing-journey table. We might have personality traits that help us want to be a writer, such as a love of storytelling or a desire to entertain, educate, or inspire others.
Or we might have personality traits that help us stick with writing, even during the bad times. As Delilah mentioned in her post, stubbornness (tenacity, perseverance, determination, etc.) ranks high in many of the replies.
We might have enough of an ego that we think others are interested in what we have to say. Or we might have a desire to prove ourselves worthy of being listened to.
Jami and Ernie are on to something: If you’re going to write, go big. Go brazen. And keep going.