When it comes to writing confidence, the creative mind is a strange thing. One minute we have it. The next minute we don’t. One minute we feel inspired and invincible. We’re full of big dreams and big thoughts, and eager to express them. The next second, we’re feeling forlorn, fearful, like a failure. And wondering how we ever felt any other way.
If you’re a writer you know the feeling. And these things are true whether you’ve written 20 books or none. The see-saw emotions, the ups and downs, the ins and outs, will persist until the day you stop writing creatively. They never really go away.
Coping With the Ups and Downs of Writing Confidence
And yet many brilliant writers turn out excellent novels year after year despite the ups and downs. How do they do it? They do it the only way possible. By learning how to manage their emotions. And they get better at doing this with each successive book, poem, or short story.
I know, I know. This is not of much help if you’re so full of despair that you can’t get that first successful book published or even written. And the reason you can’t get it written can come under many guises. (I’ll tell you what I believe is REALLY the reason in a minute.) “I can’t find enough time,” you say. “I’m not committed or focused enough.” “I haven’t been able to get around to the research.” “I’m too scared to proceed.” “I don’t have the technical or writing skills.” “I don’t know the process of getting published.” “I’m busy with X, Y, and Z.”
Each of these excuses–yes, they ARE excuses–can be fixed. But only if you really, truly, honestly want to write that book.
Every single successful author has faced one or more of the above themselves. Contrary to what you may think, they do not have oodles of free time. They weren’t born with skills or knowledge of the publishing process.
The difference is that they don’t let the shortcomings or gaps in their knowledge stop them, because they really, truly, honestly want to write a book. And finish it. So they find a way to make it happen. They make writing a priority. They plug in the holes in their knowledge and experience. They take classes, read books, go online to do research, ask questions. They figure it out.
And you can, too.
Seven Tips for Boosting Your Writing Confidence
Below are seven tried and true tips for letting go of your self-doubt. They will go a long way toward building your confidence about writing and help you gain control of those pesky little writing gremlins that can keep us stuck and prevent us from reaching our writing goals and dreams. The gremlins will never go away completely. They will always find ways to rear their ugly heads. But we don’t have to let them cripple our progress. We don’t have to let them shatter our dreams.
Starting now, promise yourself that you will figure out how to toss aside the gremlins and walk through the obstacles and fear. That you will study the craft, do the research, and write despite the self-doubt.
Let’s get started.
- Plan your time wisely.
There are only so many hours in a day, and for many of us, there are never enough. But we are ALL pressed for time, even some of the most prolific and successful authors.
So how can you squeeze in more time for writing? It’s simple. Make writing a TOP priority. Don’t allow time to become an excuse. Consider how you can make changes in your day to create more time. Even if it’s only a few hours a week.
And remember, you don’t FIND time; you MAKE it.
- Do things to boost your creativity.
The creative part of the brain needs nurturing. How do we nurture it? Ever notice how you sometimes do your best thinking while taking a shower, driving alone along the highway, or even chopping vegetables at the kitchen counter? These are often solitary, rhythmic, relaxing pursuits, and the creative side of the brain cherishes them.
So instead of letting these activities happen by accident for only a few minutes a day or week, make a habit of actively finding more time for them and other similar activities. Take long solitary walks; find a quiet spot in your house (or the car if necessary) and try mind-mapping or writing in a journal. Practice yoga. I also find that it helps to read books about creativity.
- Get advice and be open to critiques of your work.
Ask a professional or someone whose writing knowledge and judgment you trust to review your work. This does not include your sibling, spouse, or best friend unless they’re pros. Otherwise, they will likely either tell you what they think you want to hear or tell you something negative out of jealousy.
If you don’t know an editor or other writing professional who will look at your work, find a friend or relative who you believe will give you an honest opinion. You want them to help you understand what you’re doing that is working and also what you’re doing that’s WRONG so you can fix it.
You can also join one of many writing groups in your community or online that review each other’s work. No one’s writing is perfect so be open to criticism. If done right, this can help you improve your writing and motivate you to move forward.
- Stop comparing yourself to others.
This is a BIG one. It’s foolish to compare ourselves to other writers who have more experience. There is no way you’ll come out favorably, so why do it?
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read or study the work of successful writers. You should. But do it with an eye toward studying them and learning to improve your craft. Try to remember that they were once beginners and that it’s okay for you to be a beginning writer. Keep at it like they did and you will get better.
- Write about what you know until you know more about writing.
For your first book, try not to depend on doing too much research for things of less consequence such as the setting or time period. You have so much else to learn and worry about when writing your first book–such as pacing and character arcs and plotting. Don’t add the time and labor required to set your novel in an exotic location or a bustling city that you’ve never even visited.
You need not be an expert about everything in your novel but you should at least know more than the average reader about most aspects of your work.
- Don’t scrimp on the research when it’s necessary.
Take the time to explore and ask questions about the things you must include but are unsure of. This isn’t time taken away from writing. This is a part of writing. Learn to enjoy this aspect of the experience. Be curious enough to learn more about things like your settings (even if you’ve been there), the time period in which your novel takes place, or your characters’ personality quirks and the reasons behind them.
- Study the traditions and conventions of your chosen genre.
Become immersed in your genre. Become an expert in it by reading and studying the works of other authors. Read books about the genre. You really should know your genre like you know the back of your hand. If you decide to buck the trends, at least do so knowingly rather than out of ignorance.
We aren’t born with writing confidence. We have to work at owning it every day, every time we sit down to write.
The steps above are a great start but you shouldn’t depend on them entirely. Be creative in thinking of other ways to juice up your confidence in areas where you feel you need it most.