Okay, this is a tricky subject — but I feel it’s one that needs to be talked about more often. I’m not referring to writers sharing quick and easy tips that can help boost your confidence as a writer. I think these conversations need to be a little bit rawer than that.
So, I’m going to start off by saying that up until around 2-years ago, I didn’t have a shred of confidence in my writing. Despite having a degree in creative writing, experience working at a number of magazines, I didn’t believe I was worthy enough of pursuing my dreams as a writer.
Every time I found myself in a room full of writers I always felt small and inadequate. I would read stories about other writers who had found success and published novels after working to build their confidence and motivation and worried that I would never get there — and thus didn’t deserve to.
I know so many of us feel this way.
After all, writing is an art form — and as such, the words we put down on the page are an extension of ourselves. If you want to make a career as a writer, putting your work (and yourself) out there is, to say the least, intimidating. Not only are you opening yourself up to criticism, but you’re also opening yourself up to failure. Seriously, it’s scary stuff!
So scary, in fact, that many writers ultimately decide to let go of their dreams and hide from the world. If you want to do that, then I will not stop you. However, if your reading this right now I am willing to bet that you want to fight for those writing dreams of yours.
You want to get better and build the confidence and expertise you need to accomplish all of your dreams — and that is amazing! Seriously, I want you to take a second to feel genuinely proud of yourself for searching for guidance. You have taken your first step on becoming a confident writer.
Okay, now on to the good stuff. The stuff you came here for. Here are some things you can do today to help build your confidence as a writer.
Make Writer Friends
Making other writer friends has never been so easy.
With a network of people from all over the world at your fingertips, you can spark up a conversation with other writers from wherever you are, at any time. Instagram, for example, hosts an incredibly talented community of writers, as does Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These communities are richly diverse and welcoming, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them.
To help get you started, here are some things you can do to find writer friends on Instagram.
Step 1: Search for these hashtags (#amwriting #writingcommunity) and follow the accounts of writers who interest and inspire you.
Step 2: Like and comment on their images.
Step 3: If their post was particularly inspiring or thought-provoking, send them a direct message (DM).
These sorts of interactions will often lead to interesting, fun or insightful conversations — conversations that will remind you that you are not alone.
As you become more knowledgable and skilled at a given craft, naturally your confidence will grow with it. So, spend some time every day reading books, listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos or reading blogs (insert shameless self-promo here) about writing. As you learn more, you will naturally grow to be a more competent and confident writer.
Here are some resources to get you started:
- Writing Excuses: A podcast hosted by Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal and web cartoonist Howard Tayler. In each episode, these world-famous writers discuss a single topic (e.g. writing diversity, how to write characters out of their depth, crafting magic systems). Each episode is around 15-20 mins long, providing you with valuable tips and tricks to help you improve your writing in bite-sized chunks.
- Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody: A simply written comprehensive guide to plotting, outlining and writing a novel.
- AuthorTube writers Authors Bethany Atazadeh, Alexa Donne and Kim Chance make incredible helpful videos on the craft of writing.
Don’t Wait For Permission
Stop waiting for permission from your family, friends, partner, peers, from the universe to be the writer that you want to be. Many writers wait years waiting to be told that they are ready before they finally take the leap and begin their writing journey. Don’t be that person.
If you have a dream, I want you to start working on it this week. Write a list of all the thing you need to do to accomplish your goal and carve some time out of your schedule to complete it. It doesn’t have to be a big task, in fact, it’s actually better to start with your smallest and most manageable task. You just want to get that ball rolling.
Reminder: You don’t need permission to be a writer. You don’t need to wait to be more experienced, knowledgeable or skilled. Just start.
Stop Comparing Yourself
Do you sometimes find yourself reading articles, blogs, books or even Instagram captions and are envious of the skill of other writers? I know I do.
I myself, when researching for this blog post felt intimidated by the skill of other writers. “I am not this good, and will never be this good,” said the little voice of my inner critic. It’s normal to have these thoughts and feelings, just make sure they don’t knock your confidence or stop you from writing.
One way you can do this is to write down how you are feeling each time you find yourself comparing yourself with another writer. Then, take some time to write 1+ things you like about your own writing. If you cannot think of anything, take this opportunity to remind yourself that you have your own writing voice. A voice that you will hone with time and practice.
Read Your Old Work
Dig out an old diary, piece of fan fiction or even an old school project — whatever it is, make sure that it’s at least a year or two old. Then, sit down and read it. Reading your old work might make you cringe but it will show you how much you have improved. Writing is a skill — and like any other skill, it can be honed with practice.
Think of this old piece of work as evidence neither you are your inner critic can ever argue with. You have improved and you will always continue to improve.
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