All writers have experienced those moments of self-doubt, but there are things you can do to help yourself feel better about your writing. Here are my five tips for boosting confidence in your writing (and most skills).
#1: Always Learn
Learn everything you can about your craft, and never stop. No writer knows everything, no matter how long they’ve been writing. Whether you learn from schooling, online information, a mentor, just keep trying to learn all you can to improve your writing. Knowing more about the craft will affirm to you that you have avoided some mistakes and fixed others, which will help you to feel more confident in the quality of your work.
#2: Write, Write, Write
Write a ton. Write enough pages to sink a ship. Just like any skill, the more work you do, the better you will become at it. Your writing will be bad for those first few attempts, but that’s your opportunity to grow and become better. Don’t stop because you feel you aren’t good at it; you can’t get better if you give up. You weren’t good at talking when you were a toddler, were you? You made plenty of mistakes that you couldn’t even think of making when you speak now, like saying “puh-sketti” instead of “spaghetti”. Did you just give up, and say you weren’t a good talker? No, you kept at it, and as you grew up, you developed the skill to speak better and better. Keep writing and improving.
#3: You Aren’t Stephen King
You aren’t Stephen King or J.K. Rowling (unless you are, in which case: Oh my gosh! Hi!), or anybody else, and that’s a good thing. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be like some other famous author. Everybody writes differently, and if you try to mimic other authors, you’ll just end up a watered-down copy. They already exist, they’re already famous–people don’t need a copy. People want to read your work because you have a unique story to tell, but you can only do that by writing your own way. Try to just be better than you were yesterday.
#4: Unbiased Feedback
Unbiased feedback can help you to see things more objectively. It can help you either find ways to improve, or help to get rid of some of the doubts you have about how good it is. Beta readers are a great way to do this, as they will take the story from a reader’s perspective, and give you a solid idea of where you need to improve, and where you’re doing a good job. By knowing the areas you need to improve in, you can target them and become better, which will grow the strengths you have in writing and boost your confidence. I’ve also heard that critique partners can be a great help, and will help you in turn for you helping them, though I haven’t worked with one myself. Later in the writing process, and developmental editor will help you to improve even more (good for confidence in the long-run, but opening the editorial letter can at first be extremely hard).
It is great to have a really supportive family and friend group, but with the bias they have can come doubt if you’re writing is actually as good as they say. It isn’t the same when you’re mom compliments you, because there’s that feeling of “you’re my mom, you have to say that”.
#5: New Perspective
Try to change the way you think about things. I know, this seems like a big ask, but hear me out. Make an effort not to use such negative words and phrasing, even when you are just thinking to yourself. Instead of saying: “My writing sucks”, say: “I need to make my dialogue sound more natural”. Be specific as to how you need to improve, and then act on those improvements. It can seem difficult to shift your thinking like this, but it will make you feel a lot better about your writing. Instead of: “I’m a terrible writer”, try to think things like: “I have a lot of things to learn about”. It might sound like a silly, trivial thing, but it will do wonders for how you think about yourself and your writing.
In short, try to focus more on how you can improve yourself as a writer, and actually do things to improve. Focus less on comparing yourself to others, and remember that everybody has room to grow.
What’s one thing you’re going to do to improve yourself as a writer? Do you have any other tips for boosting confidence?
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With all of this in mind, go out and write your masterpiece!