Efficacy

A2Z-2013-BANNER-900_zps1a85732aHey, here’s my Friday post.   I’m posting my Saturday post tomorrow.  How nice that this month has built in an extra day if we get behind.  And it finally warmed up.  Yay!  I bought Parmesan this afternoon, too.  The real stuff.  It’s pasta night tomorrow–a little Newman’s Own Fra Diavolo, the Parm, and some penne.  Mm.

Efficacy is defined as a capacity to produce an effect.  When it’s used to refer to a person, it’s called self-efficacy, and it refers to that person’s sense of competence.  Healthy people have a strong sense of this within themselves, though not usually about everything.

Why is strong self-efficacy important to writers?

Failure

Everyone makes mistakes, or has times when their efforts don’t succeed.  It’s normal to screw up and have disappointments sometimes.  Without support and encouragement, children don’t get a sense of triumph when they do succeed, and they’re unlikely to keep trying if things don’t go well.  But they must be allowed to fail, or success means nothing.

When parents constantly shield their kids from failure, they never learn how to handle it.  Writers will face rejection; it’s not a question of if, but when.  In fact, rejection is usually the first thing writers learn to deal with.  They have to keep trying if they want to be published.

And trying…and trying…

Image:   Jean le Tavernier (after 1486), Portrait of Jean Miélot/ Wikimedia Commons

Constructive feedback

Despite what you might think, constant praise does little to make people feel capable.  It rings false after a while. No one is perfect or does everything perfectly all the time, and even kids know this isn’t true.

Constructive feedback doesn’t tear down its recipient, which can also damage self-esteem. Since art and writing are so personal, creators sometimes have trouble listening to feedback.  They hear it as an attack and can’t pick out useful information.

If an audience doesn’t like a story or a book, even if they can’t say exactly why, a good writer will listen carefully to a critique anyway.  The reasons can show the writer what she needs to improve—perhaps the reader thought the plot twist was too easy to figure out, or didn’t like a flat character.

Persistence

Why would anyone continue to do something if she doesn’t believe she has any ability?  She might do it because it’s fun—some activities don’t require great technical skill to enjoy them.  Bowling, for example.

To be a champion bowler, a person would need to practice.  A lot.  The same goes for writing.  Success doesn’t come from just a few stories.  For a writer to get anywhere, she must practice.  She must also read and learn, both what is effective and what not to do.

Self-efficacy comes in when the writer keeps at it, even when the acceptances aren’t there yet, and when the money isn’t either.  It keeps her going because she has confidence in her ability to not only write, but to learn and grow as she does it.

That’s what it’s really all about.  We don’t write because we want to—who would pick a career this annoying?  We do it because it’s part of who we are.  So when we’re afraid, and when it’s not going well, our self-efficacy is threatened.

Be kind to your writers.  Nurture them.  Give them useful feedback, and plenty of cheese.

What? I like cheese. It’s energy food. No, I’m not sharing. Om nom nom.

Image:  MigGronigen / Wikimedia Commons

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5 thoughts on “Efficacy

  1. Thanks dee and Nana. :)

    Ha ha it made me hungry too. I found that picture right before I went to bed and was all “Maybe I should have some cheese before I go to sleep…” Unfortunately, I only had the Parmesan–which goes on the pasta I haven’t made yet. :P

  2. Your cheese photo made me so hungry! I have a weakness for cheese. Excellent post. We all need constructive feedback in order to grow. And, of course, to keep at it. :)

    • Thanks, Jean! Heh heh, cheese. :)

      Yes, we do. I was looking into a writer’s group one time and their listing said “We welcome only positive feedback.” I wasn’t sure if that meant they would only listen to praise without letting anyone actually critique anything (which is a huge waste of time), so I emailed them asking for clarification. They never answered me. Next!!

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