Confession time: in the recent past, there was a period of about two years during which I lost a lot of confidence in my writing and my ability as a writer.
I won’t bore you with the details, but during that 24 month period I wasn’t happy with a lot of my work. That, in turn, put a huge dent in my productivity and in my plans.
While I’ve regained a lot of my my confidence, there are still a few steps I need to take. I’d like to share with you what I did, and what I’m still doing, to get that confidence back. It might help you if you’re in a situation like this.
One of the keys to gaining more confidence in your writing is practice. That means writing. Sitting yourself in front of a keyboard and typing. Letting the words flow, whether they’re good or bad or mediocre.
Your goal is to convert your ideas into words and to put those words on paper or on screen. And to do it every single day.
For years, I talked about a lot about pressing the Publish button. Sometimes, though, you just need to write. You need to produce work that only you’ll see. You need to write something that you delete tomorrow or in a week or right after you’ve finished it.
Write with Purpose
What do I mean by that? Don’t write strings of gibberish. Don’t go through the motions. Write something that has your attention, that you’re excited and passionate about. Write something you can pour your personality into.
That could be anything: a blog post, an article, an essay, a short story or a poem. Pour your energy and ability into it. Make what you’re writing as good as it can be.
Maybe one of the reasons you’ve lost confidence in your writing is because you’ve become stale. Maybe you’ve been writing the same sorts of things, without a break, for far too long.
That was one of the reasons I lost confidence in my work. I wasn’t as engaged as I should have been with what I was writing. I was going through the motions. What I was writing wasn’t bad. It just seemed formulaic.
So, stretch yourself. Try writing something that you normally wouldn’t. In my case, I started stretching myself by getting back into writing essays. I hadn’t done it for a long time, and I was rusty. It’s been about been 18 months since started writing essays again. And it’s been 13 month since I started sharing those essays. To be honest, it’s only been in the last couple or three months that I’ve started feeling a bit more confident about writing those essays. That confidence has seeped into my other writing, which I think seems a bit fresher.
Put your writing in front of other eyes
There are a number of ways you can do that. Create a blog. Join a writer’s group. Start an email newsletter. Ask writers in your circle to take a look at your work and critique it.
Getting feedback, especially from your peers, can be validating. It can be harsh. But you’ll always learn something about it. What you learn will help you improve as a writer and can help you gain, or regain, your confidence.
Play a Long Game
You’re not going to gain or regain confidence in your writing overnight. It takes time. Months, even years. In my case, I’ve been working at trying to get my confidence back for at least 18 months. I’m getting there. Slowly.
Be prepared to play a long game. Be mindful of your improvements, of your achievements. Embrace and enjoy every victory, no matter how small. Treat each setback or stumble as an opportunity to learn and improve.