We’re told to be humble, to be quiet, to sit down and shut up. Everything we learn from the day we’re born urges us to be smaller, not to make trouble, and to swallow our pride.
I reckon there are two types of pride.
One type needs nurturing; the other doesn’t.
This is about a deadly sin of writing... but first I have something to say about the good type of pride. The type that will lift you and you work, if you let it.
Let me start with a question or three.
Are you good at what you do? Do you help people? And do you do your best every day?
Are you proud of what you do?
It is a fine thing to be proud of what you do if you do it well. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
It’s a good thing to stand tall and declare your wins before the world; after all, if you don’t stand up and speak for yourself, nobody else is likely to. You might hear, from certain people in your life, that you’re arrogant for doing so. That you have too high an opinion of yourself. That you’re not worthy.
Are they right? Perhaps, if the person standing tall is bellowing their virtues in everyone’s faces obnoxiously.
But I think they’re probably wrong. You’re not Tai Lopez or Katie Holmes or Piers Morgan or Boris Johnson or Donald Trump.
You’re a person doing the best work you can do, generously and with ambition.
If anyone tries to silence you, remember this: they’re reflecting their own issues, not yours. Jealousy is ugly when it spills out of someone. All we can do is keep to our own paths. Keep examining ourselves in the mirror and checking we’re still doing the best we can for the people we serve.
That’s the good type of pride. We need it if we’re going to keep doing work that’s worth doing.
The second type of pride gets in the way of telling the truth—and if you’re not telling the truth, there’s no point in writing.
If you’re writing a book for your business, it’s probably going to be all about how to help people. Maybe how to solve a problem or achieve a goal or stay sane or be fulfilled. There are lots of reasons; but generally we write to help people or to share a message we feel compelled to share.
To do that, we tell stories about ourselves.
But we need to share a variety of stories that show our true selves—which means sharing some stories that don’t necessarily paint us in the best light. In other words, we need to share stories about our failures and failings as well as our successes and wins.
But our pride gets in the way of the truth.
It’s tempting to gloss over the dirty details and tell our stories in such a way that it makes us look better than we were at the time. Our pride has us telling stories that seem to be about our failures, but actually are about someone else’s—or which make someone else look less-than-stellar.
Don’t fall for it.
If you screwed up, own your screw-up. If you wronged someone, own it. If you made a mistake, own it.
Tell people about that time you were mortified because you printed a client’s book with a spelling mistake on the spine.
Tell people that you didn’t start working on your book launch early enough.
Tell everyone that you didn’t have the courage to ask for what you wanted, and how you suffered for it.
Tell the truth and then tell us what you learned from it and how you grew as a person. That’s the truth your readers want to hear, not some glossed-over, airbrushed version of you.
Nobody really believes the Instagram-perfect image, anyway.
Take pride in your work and your writing. Take pride in being brave enough to tell your truth, even if the truth is sometimes a little grubby.
You can’t write a great book without it.
* * *
If you want to get to the truth in your own writing, I have a challenge for you. It’s free. It’s the 29-day writing challenge, and it’s unlike any other writing challenge you might have done. It'll make you laugh, cry, think, and write down Big Ideas.
I want to help you build two habits: a writing habit, and a truth-telling habit. I want you to get used to being uncomfortable because discomfort is where the best writing happens.
If you’d like to join us, you can do so here.
If you want to learn more about how to write, self-publish, and market a book for your business, snaffle yourself a copy of How The Hell Do You Write A Book? Then check out the blog and podcast for more articles and guides. If you want a little (or a lot) more help, find out how you can work with me.
Vicky Fraser is the founder of Moxie Books and author of How The Hell Do You Write A Book and Business For Superheroes. She helps business owners write life-changing books, connect with readers and new customers, and grow their businesses. When she's not doing that, she's hanging from a trapeze by her feet.
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