Four tips for believing in yourself

betty ming liu Art, Inspiration 8 Comments

I just learned an important lesson tonight about respecting my own creativity. You know how I’ve been wanting to write a book? Well, I set up an impossibly crazy deadline to complete the project in about six weeks. And it’s not working. Which is a good thing. Because self-expression needs to be nurtured. It needs the tender loving care of quality time.

My self-imposed schedule called for writing a few chapters every night this week, and finishing 18 chapters by Saturday. (Are you rolling your eyeballs yet?) Well, guess how many chapters I have right now: two. By the way, did I mention that I also doing all of my own illustrations, two or three per chapter?

All this is pretty funny, especially since I’ve been so earnestly delusional. Well, the true good news is that I believe in my material, which I’m not prepared to discuss in detail (yet). But one of my themes is how messed up I am because I grew up in a Confucian household. My parents were all about the Confucius values of respecting elders, family first at all costs and sticking to the pre-ordained game plan.

Since my parents never wanted me to be a writer or artist, I’m now wondering if this need to produce the book in a terrible rush stems from  childhood habits. I used to hurry up and read novels or sneak over to visit friends before my parents came home from work to scold me for not studying. Maybe I’m still sneaking around because I’m not used to having the right to revel in my own choices. Is that possible?

So here are my four tips, which I will be practicing from here on out…


Four tips for believing in yourself


Tip #1: Embrace those so-called “crazy” ideas. It’s easy to put down our undernourished dreams by calling them “crazy,” which implies they’re not reasonable or valuable. If we gave these ideas room to breathe in a respectful environment, they might blossom to make our lives more exciting, meaningful and fun.

Tip #2: Make time to do the things that create happiness. Since I spent this evening writing, drawing and blogging, my true cravings were satisfied. Not once did I wander downstairs to the kitchen for a frustrated raiding of the pantry or fridge.

Tip #3: True friends are worth trusting. I am blessed to be surrounded by people who believe in me — even more than I believe in myself. They’re the ones who constantly encourage me to make the leap. If I self-deprecatingly refer to my crazy ideas, they will say, “What’s crazy about it?” They make more time for me than I’m willing to make for myself.

Tip #4: Stop rushing. We live in an insane Wifi-driven age where everything is about instant access. I am constantly rushing between work, errands, even yoga. Am I nuts?! Rushing is just another way to avoid intimacy. What happened to living in the moment?


The bottom line is that I will continue on my book project, but with even greater delight and respect. No more shortchanging this dream from the attention it deserves, which means no more shortchanging myself or those around me either. It’s time to breathe!


Comments 8

  1. Great post! I totally agree, especially on the rushing idea. Sometimes a deadline is a good thing but it can squash creativity if one gets too nervous about the time restraints. Artists need time to ‘play’ and to let ideas percolate.Give yourself the permission to relax and enjoy the process!

  2. Post

    Skye, I just re-read my post and cleaned up little edits. I needed the constant reminding too. Thanks for dropping by.

    Mamamiaheather, thanks! In my job as a reporter, I talk to so many different people with such varied pursuits that I’m convinced everyone has an inner artist. Most folks just don’t realize the power of their creativity and we’re all the poorer for it.

  3. Hi Betty,
    I’ve been dreaming of writing a book for about 20+ years now.. I got my 1st article published in Honolulu Magazine in 2010 promising myself that I’d be published by 2013 (which is coming up in 3 months). I’m in the same boat and I’m also a wife & mother raising 2 young kids and working fulltime, who journals whenever i can and blogs on the side. Sometimes I scoff and wonder if it’s just a futile dream and that I should stick to my “day job” since it guarantees a paycheck. I don’t mean to be a downer but sometimes I don’t know how to feed my soul to keep the dream alive…

  4. Thanks, Betty! This is just what I needed to hear as I’m thinking about the kids’ book I’m working on. Hope you continue to relax and enjoy your book project & all your other creative pursuits!

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    Jan, how nice to meet you. And I know exactly how to feed your soul. Please check out this blog post about how everything you need, you already have. My point is, girl, you’re already published. I looked at your blog link. What a sweet website! You are published, baby! These days, a blog counts.

    With two young kids, some extra sleep might help you to feed your soul and I’m not kidding. If your priority is to get published, there are plenty of options. You could even post a pdf on your Facebook. These days, publishing is a much more flexible concept. But if you have your heart set on getting into a print magazine, don’t give up. The market is tough but anything can happen!

    And thanks, Karen! Good luck to you too. Thanks also for the reminder to relax. I really should try that more. :)

  6. I’m looking forward to reading your book. I love your writing.
    I love this tip the most.
    Tip #2: Make time to do the things that create happiness
    I also put away my own task of making myself happy by putting other people’s priorities before mines which is not the way to go at least not all the time.

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      Thanks, Geek! At least I’ll sell one book and that means a lot to me. And yes, by all means, do things that make you happy. If you’re happy, you’ll bring good energy to those around you. :)

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