Creative Writers: Building Confidence In Your Craft

by | Feb 22, 2011 | The Writing Life | 18 comments

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Deadline: Thursday, September 16th

It takes a certain amount of confidence to be a creative writer. The simple act of putting pen to paper can make a writer feel vulnerable, and at Writer’s Relief, we know all about the courage required to submit your precious work to editors and literary agents. Anxiety and self-doubt can completely derail some writers; others will be more likely to procrastinate when it comes to writing and submitting. And for others, a lack of confidence can be a roadblock to creativity.

A confident writer is a successful writer—a writer who sees criticism as feedback and a rejection letter as a necessary part of the submission process. So how can writers build confidence in their craft and become more successful?

HOW TO BE A MORE CONFIDENT WRITER:

Remind yourself why you are a writer. We’re willing to bet you didn’t become a writer for the money or the glamorous lifestyle… So it must be because you have a passion, a talent, a need to write, no matter what other people think.

Review your best work as evidence. Whether it’s a towering stack of great short stories or simply one particularly perfect scene from a novel in the works, gather the writing you’re most proud of and remind yourself of your talent.

Rejoice in rejection. Rejection letters from literary agents and editors are evidence that you are submitting your work, plugging away at your dreams. A writer without a rejection letter is a writer who hasn’t had the courage to reach out.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Your writing style, publication credits, background, inspiration—these are all uniquely yours. If you constantly compare yourself to “more successful” writers, you are doing yourself a disservice.

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Step out of your comfort zone. If poetry is your strength, push yourself in a new direction just for fun—explore the world of short stories or personal essays and see if you have an undiscovered talent.

Let go of expectations. Try sitting down and just letting your writing come. Don’t obsess over a perfect first sentence, and don’t try to force a certain style if it doesn’t feel natural. Just do what you love to do without putting pressure on yourself. Edit later, if you must.

Share your work. Whether you join a writers group or start submitting your work for publication, face the anxiety of what other people may think and deal with it. Even if you receive nothing but constructive criticism, you’ll have faced a writer’s biggest fear: putting your writing out there.

Tap into your fears and insecurities. A well-fed, complacent cat is more likely to sun itself than go hunting; writers can use the energy of their anxiety to get them off the couch and out there, hunting for a new idea or a new market. Fear and anxiety are energy—energy writers can use to their advantage.

Remember that as writers, we are a work in progress. The more we write—the more we read, take classes, and study our craft—the better writers we become. As our skills improve, so does our confidence. So if you’re serious about boosting your confidence as a writer, the best advice may be simply to WRITE. (And let us know if you need help submitting what you write. Writer’s Relief clients get results!)

18 Comments

  1. Anita

    Thanks for reminding me to review why I’m a writer, to let go of my expectations . . . and write!

    Reply
  2. Lisa

    “Let go of expectations.” I find this one to be especially difficult. Of course we have expectations for ourselves! I always hear other people’s voices in my head saying “that first line could be better” and eventually it stops me from writing anything at all!

    I’d like to hear what other writers do to let go of expectations, if anyone cares to help a fellow writer!

    Reply
  3. Antoinette Constable

    I’ve learned, from Ellery Akers, the poet, that trying to write the perfect piece is to defeat ourselves. It’s much easier to take each idea and jot it down as an EXERCISE than aim for perfection right away. Then, once the first draft is down on screen, or paper, it’s satisfying to review, adapt and change what doesn’t fit. That recipe works for me, and I hope it helps others, because an exercize is just that, no one will tell you off, not even your inner critic, for jotting down an image, a sketch, an idea. Let’s see what we can do!

    Reply
  4. david daniel

    The best advice I ever recieved concerning confidence in writing came from a travel writing professor in central Mexico. I have passed it along to many people. What he said to was: “All writing is fiction.”
    Sounds like a mundane lie at first, but say it a few times and writer’s apprehension will will be replaced by the abstract reality of those
    words.

    Reply
  5. Lynn Blue

    I actually enjoy my writings and can read them again with total satisfaction but when it comes time to submit…then all the “not good enough” insecurities come out. I begin to do the things you suggest not doing like comparing myself to others. I appreciate the thought of accepting my own style and voice..which I must learn to do fully. Most importantly I like the idea of taking the risk of experiencing rejection as part of the process…not total failure. Thanks

    Reply
  6. LaBella Amare

    I agree. It is good to not compare yourself to any other writer, and to explore new avenues of writing.

    –LaBella Amare

    Reply
  7. Tonya

    I really needed this boost! Just joined a writing group, first workshop since college oh-so-many years ago. Nerve-wracking initially for me, but it’s made me much more consistent in knocking out my stories than I’ve been in ages!

    Love the spin on rejection letters, too… I can face the fear of submitting my work much easier now! Thanks!

    Reply
  8. Writers Relief Staff

    David, Thanks for sharing. That is worth meditating on!

    Lynn, Absolutely right. Rejection is part of the process. Rejections can be a sign of a healthy submission strategy. Our clients report that working with us actually helps soften rejection because it becomes less personal.

    LaBella, Thanks for commenting!

    Tonya, So glad this article was helpful to you! Good luck with your new writing group!

    Reply
  9. Julie Bantin

    I never compare myself to other writers. I am me and I like what I write.I love to explore different styles and writing on different topics. My favorite though is poetry and children’s stories.

    Reply
  10. Reine Ackermann

    I like the idea of celebrating a rejection letter.

    I could easily spend another 5 years thinking about submitting work, but I think its time for a change.

    Reply
  11. Writers Relief Staff

    Reine, Absolutely. A rejection letter is the sign of a writer who is willing to do what it takes. And for many writers, it takes a lot of rejection before that acceptance comes in!

    Reply
  12. Writers Relief Staff

    Julie, Good for you! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  13. Barbara MacKinnon

    I find writing to be a great adventure that,hopefully,has the possibility of being an adventure for someone else who enjoys reading it. It is an exciting prospect to strive to be effective and deliver the goods to the reader.

    Barbara MacKinnon

    Reply
    • Writers Relief Staff

      Barbara, Thanks for the positive words. We all need to remember that writing is a “great adventure”!

      Reply
  14. Holli C. Buck

    These words were EXACTLY what I needed to read today. As I’m switching gears in my profession and actually pursuing my life as a writer as I’ve always dreamed, I’m finding myself filled increasingly with fear and trepidation. I know that it’s necessary, but I’m working hard not to let it be paralyzing.

    Thanks for this great article!

    Reply
    • Writers Relief Staff

      So glad we could help, Holli! Good luck with everything.

      Reply
  15. Mary Graves

    Hello. Thanks for motivating me to think hard about why I write. I write because there are so many old stories to tell in this highly technological world. I love to write memoirs, in fact you have inspired me to try one. Happy New Years. Mary

    Reply
  16. Jemimma Wambui

    Wow, I love this article! I’ve been looking for someone to support my poetry for quite a while now and I think the Writer’s Relief website is a great help to me.

    Reply

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