Monday, November 3, 2014

Finding the Confidence to Write what You Want

Confidence is one of those key features successful authors seem to have. They exude confidence from every pore, and their writing shines out in a unique way. So how does a writer find that confidence when they’re starting out, getting knocked back, struggling to break into the industry?

Confidence through writing a lot. This can’t be sidestepped, avoided, or half done. By writing lots, you’ll discover confidence grows in the way you string words together and form a cohesive story that speaks to the reader. By writing a lot, you’ll gain the courage to write those stories begging to be let out. Often quality is far more important than quantity, but in the case of building confidence to write those special stories only you can write, then quantity is just as important. When we strive for only quality, sitting on one paragraph to rework it a billion times in the hope of perfection, we blinker ourselves. We stop our vision and narrow it into a focus that’s far too tight to see the story as a whole. Often it will cause us to delay the completion of the manuscript. This is why writing fast first drafts works. Once the manuscript is complete, with a strong story to build on, we can then polish the words. Write and keep writing.

Confidence through knowing the rules. This doesn’t mean you need to stick to the rules, but rather, know the most effective way of breaking those rules. By knowing what you can and can’t do, means you have the skill and confidence to write the best story you can.

Confidence through passion for your work. Find the passion for your story. If you are writing something you believe others will like, rather than the story that’s whispering deep inside, then you’ve compromised the integrity of what the story could be. If instead you hold onto a powerful passion for the story you want to write, then you won’t help but feel confident in it, even if the story heads in an unexpected direction. The confidence to travel that unknown route will make your story stand out.

Confidence through support. Every confident person has a great network of support behind them. Writers need this network more than most since writing—and anything creative--can be such an up and down pastime.

Confidence through sharing your work. Don’t write in complete isolation. You’ll grow in confidence when you let others read your work. The more you do this, the more you’ll realize your work isn’t all bad and those inevitable rough patches are fixable. When you step out from your safety zone and let people critique your work, you’ll learn more than you could at first imagine. Not only will you gain confidence sharing your work, but the learning experience is a huge confidence booster too.

There are many ways of gaining confidence. How do you find the confidence to write those stories only you can write?

Lynda R. Young
@LyndaRYoung

36 comments:

Jemi Fraser said...

Those are excellent tips!! Finding the confidence has always been a challenge for me. Still is, but I'm working on it :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It's the same with public speaking. When you know what you're going to talk about forwards and backwards, you'll have the confidence to do well with your talk.

L.G. Smith said...

Probably the more you do it, combined with positive feedback, leads to a feeling of confidence. Still, that doubt never really goes away for anyone at any level, does it?

Rachna Chhabria said...

Excellent tips, the more we write the more confidence we build. And getting our critique partners' eyes over it is so crucial to catch the weak spots.

Pat Hatt said...

The more you do the more confident you get. Thick skin is nice too.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I just try not to over-think it. Too much thinking and I lose my confidence.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I AM an over thinker and wonder if what I write will ever be enjoyed by another. Sometimes (all the time) I write a little off the norm.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Even after having five different series of novels published, I worry about the quality of my writing when I start a new one. Like your advice, I just keep writing and then hope the feedback is positive.

Fundy Blue said...

What an excellent post, Lynda! You have given me a lot to think about. I know I am a good writer. I have had lots of feedback over diverse careers outside of writing. Writing a book is daunting, but I am gaining confidence as I flounder along. But I'm wondering now after reading your post, if I should be developing other ideas while I work on my main book. Maybe then I wouldn't feel so anxious about how I'm ever going to get to things piled up inside me. Thanks for giving me the quantity suggestion.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lynda .. confidence is certainly practise ... and reading your stories out loud to get the feel for them ... we can pick up the 'nasties' then before they get published - well that would be my plan! Cheers Hilary

Dean K Miller said...

I lack in the confidence of knowing the rules. Don't get me wrong, I'll break every one of them without a second thought, but yes, it would benefit me to garner more knowledge.

Confidence is fleeting, built upon some many layers which you point out. But getting those layers on the cake is the hard part. I tend to eat the frosting and let the cake go stale.

Suze said...

I think writing what you want to read is key ...

Sheena-kay Graham said...

By not giving up, giving procrastination a kick in the butt and keeping in touch with the writing/blogging community.

Janie Junebug said...

My confidence lies in knowing that I can help other people with their writing. I don't have much confidence in my writing. If I write the truth . . . I don't know what might happen.

Love,
Janie

J.L. Campbell said...

Hey, Lynda,
These are all solid ways to gain confidence. Practice makes perfect and so does learning our craft and having a supportive network of fellow writers.

Chrys Fey said...

I love this! All of these are great ways to gain confidence. I find confidence by staying true to myself and my stories.

Lexa Cain said...

Yes, yes, yes. This post is perfect in all respects and #3 really speaks to me. Mea culpa on that one, but I've kicked that ms to the curb (along with other things in my life) and am starting anew, hoping the passion doesn't flag.

Lynda R Young said...

Jemi, it's an ongoing process for me too. As long as we keep working at it, it's all good!

Diane, well said! Public speaking is about being thoroughly prepared.

Luanne, I have to agree with you on that one. Even the most successful authors go through a lack of confidence. I think it's part of being a creative person.

Rachna, and, when we do that, our confidence builds before we realise it.

Pat, thick skin helps heaps.

Alex, ha, good point. And so true. I think way too much!

T Powell Coltrin, and that's why sharing it, finding your audience, is so important.

Susan, I don't think those worries ever truly go away.

Fundy, you have to find what works for you, but when I have heaps of ideas vying for attention, I just them down in an idea book so I can come to them later. That way it gives me the freedom to focus on my current project.

Hilary, reading out loud is another great point. And that technique certainly does pick up those hidden faults.

Dean, I had a chuckle at your analogy.

Suze, exactly. We aren't so unique and unusual that we won't be able to find an audience who also likes to read what you write.

Sheena-kay, well said! All effective.

Janie, I hope you find that confidence. Truth might be scary, but it has a way of resonating with readers.

Joy, three doable things that can really bolster that confidence.

Chrys, staying true to yourself is a great way of finding confidence.

Lexa, wow, I'm thrilled to hear of your returned passion. Sometimes it's good to let some projects go so others can breathe new life.




Lynn said...

I always tell people who are starting to write, and ask me for tips, to just write. Just keep on writing. Advise I now need to practice too!

dolorah said...

True, sometimes you just gotta sit down and do whats in your heart.

Michelle Wallace said...

I'm still a little shaky when it comes to asking others to look at my work...so my no.#4 needs attention...
I also tend to think too much...

Medeia Sharif said...

I first gained confidence by writing a lot and seeing improvements. Today I also have a wonderful support group.

Crystal Collier said...

That's some stellar advice, and I agree 100%. There's no better way to get good at something than doing it. Repeatedly.

Unleashing the Dreamworld

emaginette said...

You really nailed this one. Everything you said was not only true to me, but deeply felt. :-)

Anna from Shout with Emaginette

Theresa Milstein said...

Love this. Youre right--confidence basically means doing the work and reaching out to get better. We all start off new, and it's what we do about the art of writing that improves us.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Great Post!! I definitely need to build confidence!!!

Jennifer Chandler said...

I love all of these but especially "confidence through passion for your work". When I find a story I'm passionate about, or when I work long enough on a story to GET passionate about it, THAT'S when I gain confidence, momentum and word count!

Great post!
Jen

Lynda R Young said...

Lynn, Yep, that's my go-to advice too. Because it works!

Dolorah, exactly.

Michelle, I'm with you on the 'thinking too much'.

Medeia, seeing those improvements really does boost the confidence.

Crystal, practice, practice, practice.

Anna, thanks so much. That means a lot.

Theresa, exactly. Twiddling our thumbs or simply wishing isn't going to get us anywhere.

Cathrina, I think most of us are in the same boat.

Jennifer, passion really is a strong driving force. Thanks.

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

Lots of great ideas in your post. Thank you for sharing. Sometimes confidence comes from the writing itself. As I put words to paper and a story falls into place, my confidence grows exponentially. The more I write, the more confidence I gain. Talk about a win-win situation!

Lynda R Young said...

Gail, It does work that way, so I often wonder why I procrastinate so much ;)

Tanya Miranda said...

Confidence through sharing your work

You take years building a tough exterior, a successful career in something other than writing... it takes courage to open up and make yourself vulnerable. It took a long time for me to really put my writing out there. I even struggled with using a fake name so I can still stay somewhat hidden, unknown, less vulnerable. I decided against it.

Now, I'm out there, arms open, words bleeding out on the screen for the world to see. There is definitely a sense of confidence with that.

SittieCates said...

Helpful tips, Lynda. Shown in this way, it's a good reminder--showing us that there are many avenues for gaining back confidence and getting back on track. Love it!

SuperLux said...

These are really helpful! It's so easy to forget about how good you are at writing or why you write in the first place with people bashing you and your work. This reminds me how to get that confidence back. Keep calm and blog on!

.Michelle Dennis Evans said...

Excellent post Lynda! thank you xx

Christine Rains said...

Awesome post! Some days I have more confidence than others, but I know I must just keep writing. Write, learn, and encourage others. The best ways to build confidence.

cleemckenzie said...

Just getting back from my break and trying to catch up on reading the posts made over the past few weeks.

Your post on confidence hit the mark. It takes practice on all fronts to build and keep your writing confidence. Now having said that, I guess I better get cracking. I haven't done any of the things you suggest for three weeks. I'm feeling a crack on the old confidence.