There are times when life and writing can put you in a state of anything other than a confident writer. Cast your mind to a time when you simply couldn’t put pen to paper. It doesn’t matter if that is a journal, blog or a chapter of your book. The simple fact is nothing is coming and the more you try, the more vulnerable you may feel.
If you are sharing for public consumption, there is always the fear that someone somewhere will feel as if they have the right to critique your work. This alone can stir a fear storm like no other.
When you hesitate because you don’t feel confident it is because there is a deep reason. It’s not that you are a rubbish writer or that you really think that your work is unworthy. It is because somewhere along the line, something has happened to shatter your confidence.
One of the reasons that many people don’t write either in a journal, blog or book is because they don’t know what to write. They also may ask, who am I to write this? What about nothing I write will have any value.
I’m currently reading a clients first few chapters, she is a psychotherapist, and it’s illuminating reading both her story and the science behind our behaviours. I found myself nodding in several places.
I’ve been there, done that and got the I have no right to be a confident writer teeshirt.
But you see confidence is a muscle just like writing and the more you do it, the more of a confident writer you will feel.
Practice makes perfect
You’ve heard this one a million times. Well, that is because it’s true. Read how to become a more productive writer.
Writing in a journal is a practice. You write about your feelings, gratitude, observations or maybe use prompts, and over time it becomes a habit which you love. What you will love the most is how confident a person you will become, simply from changing your perspective about your life. Learning to become your best self is rather wonderful.
Writing blogs tickles your writing muscle in a way like nothing else. Shorter pieces that need to make a point and tell a story can be hard to start off with and then voila you find your writers voice, and you are away.
Writing a book is possibly where you will feel less confident because unlike a blog which is only a short piece, this is out there with your name and brand all over it. Here’s the thing all first drafts are a bit meh! As you edit and refine your work, it gets better and better. Add in some beta readers, your proofreader and coach, and you will have a beautifully polished piece of work that you will be proud of.
All of these require that you commit to practising. The more you practice the more you will find your writers voice.
Edit and proof your work
You’d never put a raw article out there. You may have some errors — that’s life, but one of the ways that you show up as a confident writer is by editing your work.
In your journal there is no need to edit is there. This is life, raw and at the edges. However, your edit is in the actions you take. And these actions all contribute to supporting a more confident life. When you see the results gained, you will carry on journaling.
The beauty of blogs and books (If you self-publish) is that you can keep on revising and uploading every time you spot an error. I’ve had books proofed and down the line spotted a mistake. A sharp intake of breath, an ‘oh no, how did that happen…’ and a quick edit and all is calm in my world again.
Knowing when to stop perfecting your writing
Have no fear of perfection — you’ll never reach it. Salvador Dali
How do you know when something is perfect? This is such a good question and one that plagues so many writers. Having the confidence to let go, I think is a feeling and a knowing.
The way I look at it is this…
If I have written a piece like this one, for example, and it is either for a book or a blog, there will be an amount of time I can dedicate to it. By that, I mean, I start it today, and it has to be published tomorrow. That means there is only so much faffing I can do. So how about setting a number of words, i.e. keep your writing short and sticking to it.
What about, writing it, letting it go, reflecting coming back to refine and ‘just’ publishing as is? What isn’t said can be for another article. Plus, you can come back and ‘tart’ it up later, because that is the beauty of self-publishing.
What if your inner critic or inner bully tells you that it really isn’t good enough? Is there someone that you trust to read it and give you feedback. This means you have to open your heart to what they say.
I’ve just done a feedback session with a client, she has written loads for a first draft and has done an awesome job. It’s not perfect, and I didn’t expect it to be — it’s the first draft. However, big congratulations to her for trusting me with her work and that she went with the flow. Together we can polish it ready for publication. Go and find your gentle ears.
Back to your inner critic.
Read your work aloud to your inner critic after taking a break. I bet it will sound great. Decide what changes you want to make, make them and publish.
The point is to know when to let go and do it. Done is better than whatever perfect is. And anyway in whose eyes is it perfect? What will happen as you flex that writing muscle and you get the feedback you will grow in confidence.
To be honest, I look back on some of my stuff and cringe. But hey it’s done and guess what you have something to repurpose — don’t you?
If you are still stuck work on what lies beneath — see below.
Read others work
You can learn so much from your fellow writers. Read other’s books in your genre and across genres. Make notes of how they say things and use this as inspiration. I always have my journal handy when I am writing so that I can note down something useful.
Reading other writers work also lets you see that you are a great writer too. Ok, some writers are pure genius, but I bet you are as good if not better than a lot of writers.
Write about what you know and feel confident about
When I was writing about healing osteoporosis, there were many times I didn’t feel confident. But as I researched and experimented with my body and healing, the better I felt. Typically though I write about writing, journaling, well-being and life. These are things I feel very confident about.
I’m not scared to tackle new and unknown to me stuff, but I do have to make sure that what I say is well researched and checked.
Write about what you know and feel confident in. It does make life much easier.
Research and check
Allied with above, make sure you research your work. Get it checked and run through your arguments to make sure that they flow and are not flawed. When you present a compelling argument, you need facts to back you up.
Comparisonitis and imposter syndrome
These are very real things. You are not an imposter, and the more you practise and find our voice, the more confident you will feel. Never compare yourself with others; it’s a waste of time and energy. Find your voice and express it. Over time you will fall into your flow.
Work on what lies beneath
I’ve left this to the near the end. There are many reasons why you may not feel like a confident writer, and so often it is not about writing. It’s what lies beneath the face you display in public. Some of these things are hard to spot. But there can be a pattern to your behaviours — this is when journaling is your best friend. Perhaps you need other support to help you to deal with your stuff — this is also when writing can support you.
When you tackle the below the surface things like imposter syndrome or comparisonitis then publishing your work will be easier.
Please talk to a professional if this is something that needs to be worked on.
I find that becoming clear on my values supports my confidence. Try this writing exercise.
What does a confident writer look like?
Now, there’s a thing what does a confident writer look like and how can you model that?
Ok, you might not know any writers who look confident, but you will know people who look confident. Write down a list of their attributes and model them as best you can.
Perhaps they show up regardless. Maybe they know done is better than ‘perfect’ and know how to let go. What if they put it out and say ‘what do you think and can you give me feedback?’
Keep practising which is point one and one day you’ll look in the mirror and see a seasoned and confident writer.
That might even be as early as tomorrow morning.
Your perfect day — envisioning
Write about your perfect confident writers day. Write it as if it were already here and you are living it. Not only does this exercise cement your vision, but it also tells you what values you are living by. When you have written it, leave it for at least an hour to reflect.
Then look for value words. What I mean by this is, look for words that really stand out in what you have written, these could be:-
Abundance, Acceptance, balance, beauty, confidence, creativity, calm, determination, difference, energy, empathy, freedom, focus, generous, grace, happiness, heart, ingenuity, impact, joy, justice, kindness, knowledge, love, loyalty, mastery, modesty, navigate, network, open, outrageous, peace, passion, quirky, quick, respect, recognition, safe, spiritual, tradition, tranquil, unique, understanding, vision, vitality, worldly, wise, young, zeal, zip.
You will know which words are your value words.
- When you have your list of value words, put an X next to the ones that really resonate, the key is to not think too much and go with your gut
- Cut that list down to just eight words
- Then put them in order of importance to you
- Then write about what these values mean to you
How can you use your values to change energetically how you feel about becoming a confident writer or a confident anything? Explore in your journal.
For example, if kindness is a value, how can you be kinder to you?
What is the one action you will take after reading this article? I hope it’s to write, let go and put your work out there.
Originally published at https://www.bookbrandbusiness.com on August 13, 2019.