Developing Confidence as a Writer
Believe it or not, every writer has gone through a period where they wondered if their writing was good enough to publish. For some, nothing they do seems to get them beyond that point. They simply lack the confidence to allow themselves to go further. Some people are just the opposite, they never lack for confidence and seem to just charge ahead while others fear to move. Well, this isn’t an article for those who already have bundles of confidence to spare. This is here, hopefully, to inspire those who do not.
It is not uncommon to feel that you can’t go forward with your writing because you think it isn’t good enough, you’re afraid of what people will say or that people will hate it. Those are all valid points, but that should never stop you from pursuing your dream of writing. Writing doesn’t belong to any one person. It doesn’t belong to any one group. It belongs to all of us. You’re just as much a part of that as I am or any other author out there. No one has the right to say who should and shouldn’t write. Period.
Writing is a skill, pure and simple. No one ever gets out of bed one morning and says, hey I’m going to write the next big bestseller and then proceeds to publish the greatest book of that time. Writing is a skill that must be honed like a fine blade. It takes time to craft that skill into something that produces quality work. Some people have a natural talent for writing, but talent will only take you so far. You must work hard to perfect your skills as a writer. Each and every writer out there, at one point in their career, has struggled with their craft. The late performer Prince once said, “Sometimes it takes years for a person to become an overnight success.” He was absolutely correct.
Reading and writing are the two best ways to improve your craft. If you have the chance, maybe take classes on writing. There are plenty of places that offer online courses on creative writing, publishing, writing theory and many other things that you might find useful. However, reading and writing will always be the best teachers. Write! Write badly, write all the time. Write things you have no intention of showing people. Then, write some more. Then, you will one day discover that something you wrote was brilliant. Maybe not all the way through, but in spots. That’s when you know you’re getting somewhere.
Do not be discouraged. If writing is truly your passion, then spending the time developing that passion is the best course of action for you. When you feel that your writing is at the level where you are ready to take the next step, find a writer’s group and share it. Groups exist at libraries all over the world. Just look on the bulletin board for postings or on the websites. Facebook as a lot of writer’s groups as do most other social media sites. Some are helpful, others not so much. Just check them out and maybe test the waters before you dive in. The point is, share that writing with others and get their feedback. Don’t just have your mom and grandmother read it, because they’ll say it’s great and then give you a cookie because they love you. Get some genuine feedback. As writers, we can only improve our craft when someone gives us honest feedback. We don’t need someone to say “It’s great!” While that’s a good ego boost, it does nothing to help you address the issues that need improvement.
How does all of this improve confidence, you ask? Well, let’s tackle that now, shall we? You see, all of this is designed to show you how to improve your writing. You will find that as your writing improves, so will your confidence in your writing. As you start to get positive feedback and have addressed those issues that plague most writers as they perfect their craft, you will begin to feel better and better about your writing. You confidence will grow with your skill. Your writing will improve as you grow. It’s synchronicity, really. It’s also completely up to you. You’ll never improve your writing, if you don’t try. It’s all up to you, to learn and grow, to improve your writing and you do it at your pace. Your writing is part of you and only you can decide how to write. Don’t let anyone else tell you how to write your stories. Writing is part of us and no one gets to decide who is and isn’t a writer. That’s not how it works.
When you have begun the journey of writing, you will learn that it isn’t like a trip to the mall. It’s a lifelong process that is constantly evolving and changing. Pick any writer out there and then compare their early work with the work they did later in life. You will see a great deal of difference. Some will be subtle as they improved their personal style, but others will be highly noticeable as their vocabulary and skill level have increased. No one’s writing remains the same as they grow in their craft.
Unless you’re born with an excessive amount of confidence, you will struggle with your writing career. You will question whether it’s good enough or not. Most of us do, at some point in their careers. I know a lot of writers tend to be introverts and that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that, at all. But at some point, if you want your writing to reach your audience, you’re going to have to let go of it and release it to the world. The only way to make sure your worst fears aren’t realized is to study your craft and improve your writing before you send it out there into the world. Polish that skill and make your writing the best you can. Keep at it and never let anyone tell you that you’re not a writer. No one has the right to say who is and isn’t a writer.
As you continue to improve your skills, sharing your writing with other writers or with a group of Beta Readers will help you find and address the things you need to improve on. Listen to those criticisms and take them for what they are; ways to improve your writing. Learning to take criticism is one of the best things a writer can do. Learn from them and don’t let them feel like personal attacks. Honest criticism is there to help you improve. When you get honest criticism, evaluate it for what it is and apply it to your writing. You’ll find that there is usually some merit to criticism, even negative criticism. Learning to use it to help you will be the best thing you can do and it will pay huge dividends for your writing.
I’ve done a blog post before about dealing with negative criticism, but I might revisit that and update the information for another post. Always remember, not everyone will like your writing. No author out there is loved by literally everyone. There will always be people who love and people who hate anything. It’s just the way it is, unfortunately. As the old saying goes, “you can’t please everyone.” Just bear that in mind because some people won’t be happy, no matter what you write. Look for the feedback that inspires you to do better, to be better. Negative feedback can still teach you, but only if you don’t let it bring you down with the negativity. Evaluate it for anything that might actually apply to your writing. If you find something true in the review, fix it. If there’s nothing there but negativity, ignore it and move on. You’ll be happier for it.
If you need to gain confidence as a writer and in your writing, work to improve your craft. As your skills improve, so will your confidence in it. Get honest feedback from your peers and from potential readers. Take the feedback and learn from it. Keep improving your skills and you will reach the stars. Just always remember, no matter what anyone says or how nasty they try to be to you, NO ONE has the right to say who is and isn’t a writer. NO ONE has the right to say who should and shouldn’t publish their work. NO ONE has the right to decide who can and can’t be an author. The literary world and writing itself, belongs to us all. You’re just as welcome here as any of us.
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