From trust, comes confidence. It is a saying often used when describing other people, but what about ourselves. If we are confident in our abilities, then we are more trusting of ourselves when we believe that something should be done.
I learned a long time ago, that in life, it is always best to trust your instincts, and I truly believe that the same principle can be… no, should be applied, to our writing.
There are two incidents of note in my past that, when I think about them today, I still chide myself for not doing them differently, for not trusting myself and or being confident enough in my own abilities.
For me, both moments came doing the same thing. I used to be part of the Special Constabulary when I lived in UK. Which is the voluntary Police Force. While out on duty one night, with a regular police officer, we were called to a local school for the reports of a break-in.
We took up positions at various points in the ground, and told to stand watch while other units searched the school etc. I remember standing there and hearing something. It was about 1 am, and there was no lighting, other than my torch. I turned and shone the light over the hedgerow that bordered the school field, but saw nothing. I kept hearing something but was called away because they said the area was clear. Just as we left, the dog unit arrived and gave a quick sweep of the area. The dog ran over to the hedge near where I was standing, and the man was hiding there. The officer with the dog pulled him out and got the arrest.
Had I been more confident in myself, and not so intimidated by being surrounded by the ‘regular’ officers, I would have looked a little longer, found the man, and then the arrest would have been mind.
The second such incident again occurred during the early hours of the morning. We chased a man and when we caught him it was in an area of wasteland in the town. There were four or five regular officers, a dog, and me. As they were grabbing the man, I was sure I saw him throw something away. Nobody mentioned is and they handcuffed him, searched him and walked away. I wanted to have a look, to follow up on my suspicions that he had dumped something but didn’t. I told myself that if all of the real police and the dog thought nothing of it, then it was probably nothing.
Later on, an officer went back to look for something else, something they had dropped during the chase, and low and behold there was a large packet of cannabis that the man had clearly thrown away between the debris.
Once again, had I been confident in myself, and just trusted my own instincts, not allowing myself to be intimidated, or rather, influenced, by those around me, I would have gotten both arrests, and certainly made a good impression with the real officers.
I am a firm believe that the same is true in our writing. We should not follow writing trends just because they are hot at that moment, or do certain things with our characters because that is what people expect us to do. If it doesn’t feel right to you, then don’t write it. If your gut tells you that this hero just isn’t the great guy he appears to be, then don’t force him to be it.
By following our instincts, we will make out writing much more real, and that will carry far more impact than having a character behave the way people want him to simply because it that’s how they, as readers, want him to be.