How to Gain Confidence In Writing: 7 Quick and Easy Tips

You're excited about your ideas and writing, you get half-way through your work, and then you stop and wonder…

Will people really care about what I've got to say? How will this pay my bills anyway? What if I'm wasting my time?

As you think about it, your lack of self-belief paralyzes you.

So, you stop writing. You decide against publishing, against telling people about your writing, against submitting freelance work or finishing your book.

I get it.

A few years ago, I committed to publishing one blog post a week and to sending that blog post to subscribers of my insider list.

I try to do this every Thursday. And yet when Thursday morning comes around, I inevitably think of a reason not to press publish or submit.

You're wasting your time Bryan. Nobody will read this. Your ideas are half-baked, and you've told all the wrong stories.

It doesn't help that writing often means getting comfortable with failure.

And yet…

When I press publish, when I press send, it's a minor victory.

So, here's the thing:

Self-belief is something writers of all levels struggle with during their careers. Negative thoughts are common for creatives because they often must work alone for extended periods without success.

In this article, I explain how to solve this problem and gain confidence in writing.

1. Take A Course From Another Successful Writer

If you lack confidence or self-belief, don't fester on these negative thoughts. Instead, consider how you can improve gaps in your writing skills.

For example, it's relatively easy for a non-fiction writer to improve their storytelling skills by taking courses in storytelling on Masterclass. Or you can simply read a few books from successful writers like Stephen King and Natalie Goldberg.

You don't need to meet a writer in person for them to serve as your teacher or mentor.

I've taken many online writing courses over the years, some good, some not so good. It's best to take one or two ideas from a good course and test them out. Not everything will work.

That said, embracing a learner mindset will help you improve your writing ability, no matter what stage you're at.

2. Work on Specific Parts of Your Writing Skills

Writing is a broad discipline that covers requires many skills including idea generation, productivity, self-editing, creativity, grammar, and more.

Depending on what you're writing, focus on a single writing skill, and work on that. Consider it a writing assignment.

For example, when I wanted to improve my self-editing skills I hired a professional editor to work with me on a persuasive essay. They quickly pointed out mistakes in my work that I'd overlooked.

The editor also sent me back a Google Doc of mistakes I regularly make and offered this writing tip:

“Use this document as like a checklist before publishing your work.”

Similarly, try getting into the habit of running a piece of writing through a grammar checker prior to pressing publish. These tools will identify errors that typically spelling checkers miss and provide context that will improve your writing ability.

3. Embrace Your Inner Critic

Born in 1883 in Prague, Franz Kafka worked a day job in insurance until tuberculosis forced him to retire in 1922. Before and after he retired, he wrote in obscurity in Berlin and Prague.

While living in Prague, he published The Metamorphosis, to no great acclaim.

He also wrote several other books and stories, but he didn't believe in their merit. After all, this was a man who said:

Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.”

Cheery right?

Kafka, a man of poor health, knew he wouldn't live long, and he told his friend Max Brod to destroy his writings after his death.

When Kafka died in 1924, Brod read through Kafka's papers and decided to ignore his old friend's request. Brod believed in his friend's writing… even if Kafka didn't.

The following year, Max published The Trial. It's a short dark novel about a man locked in a hopeless court system.

The Trial
  • Kafka, Franz (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 136 Pages - 09/14/2020 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

Afterwards, Max published The Castle. This novel is about a protagonist fighting against the authorities ruling over a village.

Sale
The Castle
  • Schocken Books Inc
  • Franz Kafka (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 12/15/1998 (Publication Date) - Schocken (Publisher)

Over the following years, Kafka's writing became popular in Eastern, communist Europe. Today, he is seen as one of the literary heavyweights of the 19th century.

Not bad for a man who didn't believe in himself.

So you see it's normal to lack self-belief; the trick is to handle it so you can learn how to gain confidence as a writer.

4. Hone Your Writing Style

Perhaps you want to reach people with your ideas and words? Perhaps you have a story you must tell? Or you have a book inside you that you're tired of talking about because it must come out.

Whatever your reason, write down five to ten reasons why you started writing in the first place.

Do it in a journal, on the back of a notepad, or dictate them into your phone. Act like a shrink, if you must.

Be grateful for the opportunity to play with words. Or be ambitious for your writing. Or be excited about what you're capable of.

Your why is your lifejacket when the stormy waters of self-doubt threaten to pull you under.

Because when you commit to your work, and you know why it matters… you'll develop the mental strength it takes to silence that negative inner monologue.

5. Seek Out Constructive Criticism

It's not polite to talk about jealousy but…

As much as I love writers like Franz Kafka, I cower in the shadows of their natural talents, beneath the towering ambition of the works.

I sometimes compare their accomplishments to my own, and I reach a standstill with my writing.

Even when I think of more contemporary writers, their popularity is enough for me to question what I'm attempting.

I have to remind myself what I'm looking at is the summit of their public successes and not all the private failures nobody hears about.

Know that when you compare yourself to successful writers, all you see is what you lack and not how far you've come.

This brings me to…

6. Track Writing Skills Over Time

Every writer is at a different stage along their journey.

A small step for you could be finishing your first short story. Or it could be something as simple as writing 500 words a day for 31 days. Or it could be self-publishing your first book.

And so on.

Embrace these small steps as progress towards a larger goal, steps that will help you gain confidence as a writer.

So, review how far you've come over the past month, three months, the past year, and even the past four years.

A journal is an ideal place to mark your progress, accomplishments, and setbacks.

7. Use Your Writer‘s Doubt as Fuel

If you only write about your successes and how well things are going, your readers won't be able to stomach this sanitized version of your ideas.

We want to hear the grubby details.

So the next time something goes wrong or when you fail and wonder if you've still got it, pause.

Consider what went wrong and ask: How can I turn this private failure into fuel for my writing?

Look…

Franz Kafka suffered from anxiety, depression, and ill-health throughout his life, and he drew on these experiences for his writing.

In The Metamorphosis, his protagonist Gregor Samsa says:

“I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.”

That's an insight that could have only come from Kafka's inner struggles.

So, bleed into it. Because it's all material. Because it all counts.

How I Gained Confidence In Writing

When I started writing in public for the first time, I worried about how people close to me would react.

What would my friends say if mined our confidence for a story?

What would my mother think if I wrote about sex?

Will people think I’m odd if I describe how I get up at dawn to write and that I sometimes prefer being alone in a small room with a warm idea to the company of others?

I felt like an imposter.

1--_TWS_KLmlZJxPJJ13ueeQ
Image courtesy of Philip Kirk

Who are you to call yourself a writer? Get out of here before I call the police!

My fears held me back from being honest on the blank page and from writing what other people think.

These selfish fears held me back from my best mistakes, from surprising opportunities, and from becoming a better writer.

I should have written about the party where I drank too much and embarrassed myself, the time I was fired, and what happened next.

 

 

Gain Confidence In Writing: The Final Word

Franz Kafka's writings only found a rightful audience after he died.

Now, I wouldn't like for you to wait that long before you find success with your writing.

Thankfully today, you can easily share your writing and ideas with the world. You don't need a patron like Max Brod or a wealth of resources. Play the role of the eternal student, and you'll always have ways of improving your craft.

You can practice via free writing. You can start a blog. You can self-publish a book.

You can get your ideas out into the world, and if you are committed, you'll see you already have everything you need.

All you have to do is to be brave enough to recognize a lack of self-belief what it is. A marker on your journey towards becoming an accomplished writer.

Confident In Writing FAQs

Why is confidence important in writing?

Confidence in writing matters if you want to find readers, earn a living from your work or make an impact. If you're a new or young writer, and you lack self-belief, remember that even Stephen King and JK Rowling had to start somewhere. You can always fix your mistakes as you go. But if you never start, then how can you learn.

How can I be confident in writing?

Write a little every day until you've built a consistent habit. The more you do something, the better you'll get!/ Then, share your work with helpful family members, interested friends and readers. If you're struggling to find writers, consider starting a blog or publishing on a social media network like Medium. It's also a good idea to take writing courses so you can improve at your craft.

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