How to Increase Your Confidence as a Writer
I’ve heard from countless writers that one of the major areas where they struggle isn’t dialogue or character arcs or internal conflict--it’s having confidence in themselves as a writer.
I’ve #beentheredonethat my friend and I know exactly how it feels. You have a great writing day one day and the next you are chewing off your nails and thinking that everything you wrote the day before that you thought was genius is total garbage. You sit down to write and instead of feeling inspired you feel intimidated--Who are you to write anyway? Who are you to think you could one day publish a book? You are so unqualified for this.
I’d love to tell you that I can give you five easy steps to rid yourself of self-doubt and feel confident ever after, but the truth is the writing life will always be a combination of magical carriages and smashed up pumpkins. What I can tell you is that these dips in confidence are completely normal even in seasoned, published writers--and there are ways you can increase your confidence and decrease the amount of time you spend sobbing over a glass slipper thinking that you were a fool--a fool!!--to think you could ever be a writer.
Here’s how to do it:
#1: Bust those myths.
Part of the reason writers struggle with confidence is because they have ideas built up in their heads about what a “true” writer looks and feels like--how their writing time goes, what their finished product is, and how much talent they have just in their pinky finger alone.
Reality is very different from how we envision it though. Reality is that all writers struggle, all writers have to make huge changes to their first drafts, all writers have bad days. The sooner you burst those myth bubbles, the faster you can get back to work writing and stop comparing yourself to imaginary writers who don’t exist.
So what’s a practical way to do this? Read books about the writing life (not necessarily the writing craft) that get very honest about the writing struggle. Two suggestions: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and my personal changed-my-life-completely favorite, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.
Another great way to do this is to follow writers on Instagram and Twitter who are real and honest about their struggles as well as their successes.
#2: Submit your writing.
Start with something small like a guest blog post. Move on to big goals like online magazines or print magazines. Submit poems, short stories, personal essays, whatever you enjoy writing. This will boost your confidence because one, you will feel like a writer when you have deadlines for submissions and edits due back to an editor and two, you will start to get real feedback and responses to your words--both from editors who are getting your work ready to publish and from real readers who resonated with your words and enjoyed what you wrote. It’s a lot harder to believe the lie that you can never be a writer when you have your words out in the world.
#3: Make writing friends.
It’s very helpful to read about the struggles of writers on a page, but it’s even more powerful to talk with writers in real life and witness the ups and downs of writing in real time. Find yourself a group of writers who will put your self-doubt in perspective (Ahem, welcome to the club. We all have that.) and will give you support and encouragement when you need it.
Where to find writing friends? You can join the Inkling Facebook Group (we are small but mighty!!), create your own group, check out your local library, participate in Camp Nanowrimo or Nanowrimo, start conversations on social media--the options are endless. Dust off those skills you learned in Kindergarten, sidle up to someone on the writing playground, and say “Hey, can I write with you?”
P.S. Another GREAT option to boost your writing confidence and find writing friends is to join Drafted: A Group Coaching Experience for Writers. It’s a one-of-kind program where you join a small (3 to 4 max) group of like-minded writers for one-on-one coaching from myself, group video calls, a private group for daily support, and feedback on your writing--along with goals and accountability to get you there. Basically I’m your writing fairy godmother ;). Learn more here!