Do you ever feel like your writing isn’t “good enough”? Or, that you don’t have what it takes to be the writer—or have the writing career—that you dream of and strive for? If you’ve ever felt you lack confidence as a writer, I assure you that you’re not alone. For many, writing is a solitary endeavor, and it’s easy to spin unfair tales of how your work will never be up to snuff.
However, building up your writing confidence isn’t something that you can will yourself into. It’s something you act upon—over and over—until your spirits lift and perspective shifts.
It can sometimes seem like it takes forever to feel sure of your writing abilities. Writers often don’t start to see improvement until toiling on draft after draft. And, your self-assurance can deflate in a matter of seconds—upon receiving critical feedback, seeing another writer’s success, or judging your own work too harshly.
However, there are tricks you can harness to boost your writing confidence, even when you’re prone to negative self-talk. Follow these three healthy habits that every writer needs to maintain courage and confidence.
3 tips to boost your spirits about writing:
1. Write your feelings.
What’s the best way to get better at writing? Keep writing! With some of the many authors I’ve coached over my 30+ years in publishing, I’ve found that one effective way to boost their writing confidence is—ironically—to encourage them to write about how they don’t have any.
Journaling is a powerful practice. Daily writing, especially about feelings and negative emotions, only fuels your craft. Fit writing into your day so that it becomes a habit. When you’re feeling down in the dumps about your writing—how you are stuck on a plot point or aren’t making your descriptions sing the way you want—pour your insecurities and worries out on to the page. Sometimes, it’s important to purge our body of the poison before we can be in a space to move on and start to embrace self-confidence.
Try this: Do some stream-of-conscious writing. Jot down your limiting beliefs concerning your writing abilities. Some phrases you may write could be similar to “I’m not good enough to write this story” or “I can’t ever get published.” Then, respond to those limiting beliefs, arguing how the opposite is true: “I am good enough to write a gripping tale because I have dedicated many hours to studying the craft of storytelling;” “I have a solid support system and a knowledgeable book editor to guide me, so there’s no real reason why I wouldn’t stand a chance in the market.”
2.Read your work when you’re in the right headspace.
Feeling negative and down on yourself? This will color how you perceive your own writing. Just as it’s wise to not read your own stuff back mere minutes after writing it, avoid taking a red pen to your words when you’re not feeling confident or thinking clearly.
Recall that classic image of a frustrated writer, surrounded by a virtual avalanche of crumpled-up reject drafts. If you’re prone to slashing or tossing out your work in exasperation, perhaps it’s important to take a break first. If you don’t take a time out, you won’t be helpful to yourself. Your sour mood could even feed larger habits of toxic thinking.
Try this: Prioritize self-care around your writing. Set your timer and go for a walk or listen to a guided meditation on positive thinking before sitting down to edit your work. Or, if you find yourself getting down when reading your writing, vow to take a rewarding break—grab a bar of chocolate or do one of your favorite workouts—and come back to it when you’re ready to think positively.
3. Get outside feedback.
Writers with low confidence may be prone to avoid criticism, especially from other writers. There’s a fear that their work will be judged as utter garbage, or worse. However, if you find the right environment—consisting of experienced writers, coaches, or editors—you can emerge with helpful feedback and tools for improving.
When you make a point to seek out support from experienced professionals or peers, it’s rare that you will feel terrible about your writing. Sure, we all have things to improve upon. However, a good editor or coach wantsto see you succeed—and will offer the actionable advice and words of encouragement you need. Having a nurturing sounding board is key. With the right help in your corner, it’s harder to dwell on your shortcomings.
Try this: Seek out writing groups and writing classes at your local community college or writing centers. Find an editor at a writing conference or through the latest edition of Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents. Or, contact me to see how I, or one of my team editors, can help.