Confidence Is the Key

I feel it is not an exaggeration to say that many writers are what you would call introverts. The first time I went to my critique group I was terrified. Frankly, I probably never would have gone if I had not been urged by my illustrator. I am a bit shy by nature, and joining a group to share my work with people I didn’t know was probably the last thing on my bucket list. url-2However, publishing a book was first on my bucket list, and I needed guidance from people who were in the same boat as myself.

I was welcomed to the Andover critique group and learned so much right away about writing and the publishing industry. Since that first meeting, a little over a year ago, I have managed to self-publish two books, The Smith Family Secret Book 1 and Book 2, I hosted an author talk at my school for grades 2 to 5, visited a teacher friend’s 4th grade classroom and even provided a hands-on workshop at my local library.

Even though every bone in my body rebels against putting myself out there, I have DONE JUST THAT, slowly, but with progress.

Confidence is the key.

Although I can be shy in my personal life, I am a natural storyteller and teacher. It’s in my genes! My father was a gypsy prince – yes, that is 100% the truth – and everyone in my family is a teacher. I also have confidence in my writing. When I allow myself to combine these things, I am very much at home.

923430_602133779856762_256202706_nMy students, who see me every day at school and have probably heard all of my stories (at least twice), loved hearing the story of how I started writing The Smith Family Secret with only a first sentence to go on…

“Cardiff Smith loved to draw.”

… and how I had no idea what might come next. They asked what inspired me to write, and I replied that THEY did, of course.

In Mrs. Barenboym’s 4th grade classroom, they devoured everything I said, and started brainstorming their own ideas for sequels! They even gave me a great story starter for a Halloween-flavored Smith Family tale.

At the Wilmington Public Library I read a chapter from my book, which kids got a kick out of. Then we made our own moving pictures using the principle of persistence of vision with zoetropes and thaumatropes. They were excited about my book and art and I inspired them to create a bit of magic of their own.

And when it gets down to it, that’s all that really matters. I may never have a best seller, or make enough money writing to quit my day job and move to Tuscany – although one can dream – but I love talking to children and sharing my stories.

With them, I have the confidence to keep writing and keep putting myself out there. If that confidence bleeds into my regular life too, then I am a lucky girl.

Check out The Smith Family Secret Book 1 and Book 2 on

Congratulations to Josh Funk, who won a copy of HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR CHILDREN’S BOOK by Katie Davis in our recent giveaway.

Related post on Writers’ Rumpus:
Just Keep Swimming by Jen Malone


  1. My first ever critique group terrified me too! Thank god it got easier. Going to critique groups has vastly improved my writing thereby helping me become the confident writer I am today. 🙂


  2. I think if we continue to push forward even when nervous we’ll get more and more comfortable with our roles as author/speaker. If you speak to an audience with passion and your truth as a writer, you will appear confident. And kids are amazingly perceptive. I’m sure they feel your sincerity. You are a talented writer and I wish you many future successes.


  3. Wow, Alison, has it really only been a year since you joined us? You fit right in, so it feels like longer! And I had no idea your confidence has ever faltered in any way, so you must be a good actor as well as a writer. 😉


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