Strong self-confidence is vital to successful writing. Nevertheless, confidence building is by no means an easy task. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to building confidence that we can offer up. However, there are several simple strategies that can help! If you’re finding that you’re questioning yourself as a writer, try these six tips to quench those self-confidence killers.
1. Silence Your Inner Critic
Here’s the thing about writing: It’s personal. No matter whether you’re writing about fall fashion trends or your story about overcoming a personal hardship, each piece of writing shares a piece of you with the world. After all, it’s your words, thoughts and personality on that page. Putting all of that out there can be scary.
In an ideal world, everybody would love your writing. You’d get phenomenal reviews, a place on the bestseller list, and a bidding war over the movie rights. Well, reality check, our world is not ideal. Your words will be criticized. Someone out there is not going to like what you’ve created.
Criticism of your work can trigger feelings of deep insecurity and self-doubt. Suddenly, you’re that middle schooler looking for acceptance from your peer group. If you’ve opened a literary vein on generally private subject matters, such as family struggles or health challenges, than any criticism of your words on the page can feel like a rejection of you.
Even the best writers have faced bad reviews, editorial redlines and a serious case of the side-eye from friends and family. If you’re going to write, that’s all part of the playing field. You need to wade through the criticism—learning from the well-meaning, constructive feedback and ignoring the blatantly negative haters.
There’s not a single human alive who will say that they enjoy this part of the job. But, if you’re going to be an author—or any type of creative, for that matter—than you’re going to have to mentally silence the critics (internal and external) so you can keep creating.
2. Keep Writing
The best thing about writing is that you can always move on to the next page or the next project. One of the universal truths of writing is the only way to get better at what you’re doing is to keep moving forward. The adage “practice makes perfect” certainly applies here.
Keep writing, keep moving forward and keep putting words on a page. With each day and each page, you’ll see that the writing process becomes easier and feels more natural. One of the best ways to make the process feel natural for you is to find your own unique writing voice. Another way to make your writing flow is by committing to daily writing exercises.
Even if you’re not enamored with what you’ve created in this moment, keep moving forward. Know that you can always go back to make edits, corrections or deletions. But you can’t polish what you haven’t written. A cumulative stack of words on the page will help you build confidence by making you feel accomplished and prolific.
3. Become an Avid Reader
In order to write well, you need to be familiar with the written word. Each time you read, you expose yourself to new ideas, characters, and patterns of writing. The more creative connections you can foster while you write, the more confidant you’ll feel.
Another bonus of reading is that you get to see that not everything published is the next great American novel. In fact, there are some not-so-well-written pieces out there that have been wildly successful. Just look at the self-publishing juggernaut that is EL James. James’ Grey series was panned by critics for being poorly written schlock, but the public loved her series.
The point is you don’t need to be Hemingway to have a story to share. Your words are meaningful to you, and they will be meaningful to someone else out there, too. Prolific reading helps build your own confidence because it exposes you to different thoughts and voices. The more you read, the more value you’ll see in your own words.
4. Set Goals and Meet Them
Writing gets easier each time you do it. The same principle applies to going to the gym, eating broccoli, or getting up at 6 am. The first few times may feel painful, but once these behaviors become habit and you start to see the benefits, you’ll appreciate your effort.
You need to set goals to keep yourself motivated and hold yourself accountable. Calendar your goals and create a schedule so you know it’s time to write. Once you have forward momentum on your writing projects, you’ll want to keep that going.
If your book publication deadline is “someday,” eventually that’s going to turn into “never.” You have a story to share with the world. Make the commitment to get that out there.
5. Share Your Work
Guess what? If you want to be a self-published author, you’re going need to share your work. We know, this is the toughest part for many writers, especially if you’ve never written a book before. This first reveal can feel about as comfortable as strolling through Times Square in your underwear.
We get it. You know who else gets it? Other writers!
In order to bolster your writing confidence, you need to find your writing tribe. One way to do this is with a local writing group where you can meet with other writers and share your work. The beauty of this is that these peers are going through the same process, and thus are able to empathize and appreciate your writing efforts.
Don’t have a local writing group? Think about which of your social circles can be leveraged. Some aspiring authors have shared their work with their book club. Others have posted snippets of their book on their blog for reactions and thoughts. And some authors have hosted informal reading nights to share sections of their book aloud as a preview.
No matter which audience you chose to read your work, know that sharing serves a dual purpose: 1) it earns you feedback and 2) it makes you more comfortable with the idea that others will actually read your book.
6. Revive Your Passion
Sometimes writing can feel like a joyless slog. If you’ve hit the wall where you’re just not feeling the process, it’s time to revive your intrinsic motivation.
Think back to why you decided to become a writer. Was it to make money, to forge connections, to share your story of courage and power, to heal and move on from a past hurt? Each one of these reasons is powerful. Identifying what launched you down this path in the first place provides a strong intrinsic motivation that will build your confidence.
Consider the example of self-published author Mark Dawson. A failed experience with his first published book almost turned him off writing forever. Rather than quitting the business he loves, Dawson dug deep and found motivation to continue writing. Now he’s wildly successful and earns a great living following his passion. He connects with his fan base to remind himself of why he’s writing.
By revisiting your motivation and refusing to allow speed bumps derail you, you, too, can find the inner confidence to continue your writing journey.
No author is 100% confident ever. And guess what, you won’t be either—and that’s ok! As with any skill, the more you practice, the more confidence you’ll have in your abilities. The bottom line: Keep writing, keep reading and keep sharing, and slowly you’ll see your writing confidence begin to soar.
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