Anyone who knows me could tell you that I'm a mix of realist and recuperating perfectionist. I hope for the best without getting my hopes up. I acknowledge when I do well without getting out-of-control big-headed ... well, I try, anyway.
Like anyone else, I have those moments when I get down on myself. I've had aspects of stories that I wondered if I'd ever get right. I've been afraid I'd never come up with a good story idea again. (That one still comes along now and then.) I've had manuscripts get several requests, only to get rejections that left me saying, "Mindy, what am I doing wrong? How on earth do you get an agent to 'fall in love' with a book?" (Yes, Mindy has been the recipient of any and all negativity rants.)
That last bit has been key for me—having someone to vent to when I'm feeling insecure and uncertain. Someone who doesn't just blast sunshine back at me. ("No, RC, you're the awesomest, they don't even know, you rock everything!") Someone who acknowledges my feelings, counteracts with factual evidence, and admits when she doesn't have the answers, either.
So despite my ability to criticize myself to death, I've managed to keep an attitude of "If I keep trying, I'll keep getting better, and eventually I'll get there."
There's a different approach that can certainly be tempting, but I feel certain is less effective. The frequent, public declarations of, "I suck. I'll never succeed at this. I'm screwed."
Well, yeah. I believe that's called a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I'm not a sunshine-and-rainbows, super-jam-packed-with-positivity type person. But I do know one of the few things we can control in this industry (and life in general) is our attitude.
If we're overconfident, we annoy others with our arrogance. And we look foolish when we inevitably can't deliver.
If we constantly declare ourselves full of supreme suckitude, what are we looking for? Baiting others into a pity party? Fishing for compliments, which we'll then refuse to accept (because, y'know, we're so convinced of our suckiness)?
Hard truth: I am not here to convince anyone of their greatness, particularly anyone who doesn't want to believe it. I'm busy maintaining my own ego's balance.
You don't have to believe you're great. You just have to be passionate enough about writing (or whatever you're doing) to keep working at it, and believe that if you do, you'll improve.
And you are the only one with the power to do that.