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.