7 Ways to Build Your Writing Confidence

7 Ways to Build Your Writing Confidence

How confident are you about your writing?

Ideally, you feel a happy certainty that you’re a good writer. You realize your first draft won’t be perfect, but you’re confident you can improve on it. You’ve know you’ve got a message worth sharing or a story worth telling.

If you’re like many writers, though, your confidence levels might be dangerously low.

Perhaps you find yourself thinking:

  • It’s not worth writing. I’ll never get anywhere.
  • This is rubbish. I might as well delete it all.
  • I’m not a real writer.

At best, thoughts like this sap your writing energy. At worst, they stop you writing altogether – not just for a few days or weeks, but for years.

These seven tips should help you build your confidence and feel good about your writing.

#1: Read Other Writers Discussing the Writing Process

All writers have times when they feel like quitting—even bestselling authors. By reading what they have to say, you’ll realize the difficulties you’re having are completely normal.

Here are just a few quotes on the struggle of writing:

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.—George Orwell

Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.―Neil Gaiman

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.―John Steinbeck

#2: Start and Finish a Writing Project

“I never finish anything.” Does that sound familiar? A huge stack of incomplete projects can be really discouraging.

So this time, turn it around. Pick one not-too-huge project to focus on—perhaps a poem or a short story or a blog post—and finish it.

Sure, it won’t be perfect. (I’ll let you into a writing secret: nothing is ever perfect.) But you’ll have learned a lot in the process.

#3: Keep Learning Your Craft

One great way to grow not only your confidence but also your skill is to continually learn more about writing.

That might mean developing your dialogue skills or making multiple points of view work. You can learn from blogs, books, magazines, talks, courses . . . whatever fits into your life. It doesn’t matter how. What matters is that you do keep on learning.

And if you come across tips you’re already following, celebrate! You’re getting it right.

#4: Share Your Work With Other Writers

This can be a scary step—but also a hugely rewarding one. It’s an amazing feeling to have readers, and letting other writers see your work can provide you with a great confidence boost.

Hopefully, they’ll be supportive and encouraging. (Most workshop groups, and writers’ forums online, are.) You might want to ask “What do you think is working well?” and “What could I improve?”All of us secretly want to hear, “Don’t change a word, it’s perfect!” – but good feedback will help you strengthen your story. You’ll gain confidence as you realize that, while your current draft might not be perfect, you now have ways to improve it.

#5: Get Your Inner Critic to Shut Up (Temporarily)

Your Inner Critic is that little voice saying, “This sentence isn’t working” or “Your dialogue is too bland” or “You need to rewrite that bit.”You don’t need to listen to that voice when you’re drafting. Remind yourself that you can edit later—and then your Inner Critic will be useful, rather than discouraging.

It’s worth experimenting with different ways to block out that voice as you write. For me, music helps switch it off—and so does having long writing sessions, so I can get right into the flow of the story.

#6: Set Yourself Goals—and Meet Them

When you start out writing, your only goal might be to write on a regular basis—maybe daily, but it might be weekly or twice weekly if you’re busy.

As you go further with your writing, though, a great way to boost your confidence is by regularly setting and meeting goals.

The trick here is to make your goals a little bit challenging—but not so challenging you give up entirely. “Write novel in three months” would be pretty tough for a full-time pro, so you might want to try, “Write two chapters this month” or “Finish the first draft in 12 months.”

You might also want to consider whether word count goals or time-based goals work best for you. (If you’re not sure, try experimenting with both.)

#7: Get Paid for Something You Wrote

One wonderful confidence booster is to get paid for your writing. That might come in the form of a competition prize, or a fee from a magazine, blog, or other publication. It could mean self-publishing your novel or a short story collection and selling it e-book form.

Don’t be afraid to submit your work to editors. Rejections are painful—but all they mean is that your story wasn’t right for one particular person on one particular day.

Getting paid might take time, and it might well mean writing something different—perhaps an article for a magazine or a post for a blog that pays guest authors. But when you receive money for your work, it’s a wonderful validation that your writing is valuable.

How’s your writing confidence? Do you have a tip to share or a question to ask?

7 Ways to Build Your Writing Confidence

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About Ali Luke

Ali Luke blogs about the art, craft and business of writing at Aliventures. You can get her mini-ebooks Time to Write: How to Fit More Writing Into Your Life, Right Now, and The Two-Year Novel: Plan, Write, Edit and Publish Your Novel in 24 Months when you join her weekly e-newsletter list (it’s free!) here.

Comments

  1. I think most new writers don’t understand the power they possess. They can create worlds, change hearts and minds, bring people to tears. But their lack of confidence forces them to restrain it. I still struggle with it myself, concerned that something I wrote may offend, or appear implausible, or just sound silly. I have to remind myself that it’s my world. If it sounds implausible, create something in that world that makes it plausible. Maybe silly is just what it needs. We have to learn to trust our instincts. If we made the decision to write, we must love it enough that the instinct is there. Just go with it.

    • I think the fear of what other people might think can hold us back in all sorts of ways. I still struggle with this, but I’m slowly learning that I have to risk looking silly or even offending someone in order to write what I really want to write. (And usually, it’s all in my head and people are either supportive or at worst indifferent!)

  2. It’s strange to read of people who find the writing process painful, or like an illness. I love to write, I do it to relax and entertain myself. I can’t imagine doing it if I felt like it was a pain.

  3. K.M. Weiland says:

    Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Ali!

  4. As a pre-published author, I really appreciate this post. It is encouraging to see what I am doing right, and what areas I still could use help. Personally, I struggle with having others read my work. Not because I am shy about others seeing my writing, but because I have not yet found a good way to do this and get the feedback I need. I live in rural Ontario, Canada, and there aren’t many options for writing groups nearby. Is there a certain group on line that you would recommend?

    • Christina, I don’t have any specific online groups to recommend (I’ve been lucky enough to live in big cities with lots of writers around!) — but I know there are loads of groups out there.

      A good place to start might be with a writing-related forum — I’ve heard good things about this one http://talkback.writers-online.co.uk/ from UK’s Writing Magazine — I believe they have members world-wide, though it’s probably UK biased.

  5. I’ve been checking this site out for a while now, and I think your advice is fantastic! Lately I’ve been unmotivated to write even when I get a chance to. This post (as well as several others) have made me feel more hopeful. I feel really lucky to receive such great writing advice at the age of 15. Maybe I can turn all of my promising story ideas into published novels someday. Thank you so much!

    • I started reading articles about writing back when I was 15 too, and it absolutely helped me in my journey as a writer. Good luck to you, P.S. — and don’t feel that you have to wait to start on those promising ideas. 🙂

      • I am only 16 years old, Yet I am addicted to writing. I have written a few chapters for a story that I have in mind. I published it once on Wattpad, But I just un-published it the second day. I just felt like, You’re just a 16-year old girl, Why would such a boring novel as yours get you to be a best-selling author one day? That feeling, and that voice inside of me that always reminds me that whatever I do, I will never become a best-selling author. My friends have read those chapters, They said that I have great writing skills, But I don’t trust that. I don’t even trust myself with writing anymore. I feel like my biggest dream is shattering. What should I do? How can I shut my inner voice? How can I convince myself that maybe, Just maybe one day, I will be a best-selling author ..?
        I don’t think my writing is as special as other stories that have millions of readers.

  6. I think writing regularly is the best way to build confidence. Since I finally was dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century and got an iPhone, I have reminders set that remind me that it’s writing time. It’s working for me. Thanks for a good post.

    • I appreciate being answered back. It really is invaluable to write consistently. I’ve had a hard time doing that since my laptop has been giving me problems and I don’t get to use the family computer much. Thanks for the encouragement. Now to get working on my novel…

      • Consistency definitely helps. P.S., is old-fashioned pen and paper an option (at least for brainstorming)? I draft straight onto the computer now, but in my teens I wrote longhand on lined sheets of paper — meant I could write in the school library etc.

        • I can’t stand hand writing for anything, but thanks for the suggestion. I have notes all of my ideas recorded on Microsoft Word even though I can remember them just fine.
          Fortunately, I’m starting school soon which means I can work on my current novel during study hall or after school like I normally do. Surprisingly, it’s more convenient than working at home most of the time. Before I wrote this comment, I didn’t think too hard about that. Now I have something to look forward to on the first day!

          • Hope the first day back goes well for you. 🙂 I often found it easier to focus at school rather than at home — fewer distractions!

  7. All good stuff, Ali.
    My trick is a private celebration party of one–whenever I do something that turns out really well. Not to get prideful or conceited but to express joy in evident progress and emphasize it in my memory. Helps to insulate me from the negative thoughts that inevitably assail at times. And if others see my writing as good too, that just adds fuel to my celebratory fire!

    • I like it, Bill. 🙂 I write down monthly achievements, big and small — I’ve been keeping these in a little notebook since 2008, and it’s great to look back at the beginnings of my writing career and see how far I’ve come, step by step.

  8. I’ve been struggling with my writing confidence for a while. I started out writing for myself. Later I became a freelance writer. Now I cringe when I get a “please consider doing this” in an response email from an editor. It often paralyzes me for the next writing assignment. Ugh!!!! I used to be fairly confident, when I wrote for myself. Now writing for others…my confidence has been shaken. I’m considering bowing out. Advice?

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