be a confident writer

Last month I asked the ladies of See Jane Write what they were struggling with most regarding writing and blogging. The same word came up again and again: confidence.

One member told me, “I need help with building writing confidence. I seem to have lost mine!”

A member of the See Jane Write Facebook group said, “Some days I swear a brilliant, authentic writer lives inside me and is waiting to be born. I keep suffocating her by not writing. Can I get a session for writers that lack confidence?”

Here’s the thing: there’s no magic potion for writing confidence. Is there a session, seminar, or workshop that I could host that will boost your confidence? Maybe. But it’s probably not what you had in mind.

You see, no one can talk you out of fear. I don’t even think you can talk yourself out it. The only way to conquer fear is to feel the fear and do the thing you’re afraid of in spite of it. Therefore, the only way to conquer your fear of writing is to write and to share your writing with others. 

Oliver Emberton once said that, “The best way to develop confidence is to become good at something and get yourself in front of people who appreciate it.”

You’re only going to become good at writing by writing! And you’re only going to find people who appreciate your work by sharing your work with others.

Remember that there’s really no such thing as good or bad writing, at least not in the way that 1 + 1 = 2. It’s all subjective. For example, last year one of my favorite authors released a new book and all of my writer friends loved it. I quickly downloaded the book to my Kindle certain that I would love it, too, because my writer friends and I have similar tastes and because I’m a fan of books this author has written in the past. But you know what, I HATED that book. I found myself rolling my eyes and saying “Are you serious?!” with every page.

Does this mean the book is an example of “bad writing.” No. It just means it was a bad book for me at that time in my life.

So when you share your work, don’t get discouraged by criticism. Listen to it. Learn from it. Revise your work as necessary and keep going. And keep looking for people your work will resonate with most.

This is an ongoing process. You’ll never reach some point in your writing career at which you’re 100 percent confident all the time. I’ve written for national magazines and newspapers like USA Today and had essays, poetry, and short stories published and I’m still not completely confident in myself as a writer.

Just last month I hosted a writing workshop for See Jane Write members. At this workshop, which I strive to host monthly, members have the opportunity to share work with the group and get feedback. At this particular session I shared a piece of writing I didn’t feel good about at all. It was to be part of a manifesto I’m writing which may be the introduction of a book I hope to complete this year. Because the piece is meant to be a sort of call to arms for women who write, it’s meant to speak to a wide audience and I worried it was much too abstract and therefore wouldn’t resonate with anyone. But I was wrong. I shared the piece with my Janes and they loved it! One woman attending said the piece gave her chills. Another said it got her fired up to write like never before.

Did that boost my confidence? Hell yeah it did!

But what if they read the piece and it didn’t move them at all? Would I have been disappointed? Of course! But I wouldn’t have been discouraged. I would have simply asked questions to figure out what the piece was lacking, made the necessary changes and brought the revised work to our next session for more feedback. Yes, writing tastes are subjective, but the ladies of See Jane Write are my target audience, so their opinion counts.

So I think there are two types of sessions I could host to help build your confidence as a writer. I could host sessions at which we just gather and write like crazy, which I plan to do more of over the next 12 months. And I could host sessions at which you can get feedback on your work, which I already do monthly for See Jane Write members.

If you’re interested in becoming a member, but you’re not sure if it’s right for you, I’d love to chat with you about it. Click here to schedule a 15-minute strategy session with me. During our chat we’ll discuss what your goals are for the next 12 months and how See Jane Write could help you accomplish them. I’ll explain to you all of the benefits of becoming an official See Jane Write member and answer any questions you may have about the organization and the membership program.

Write on, my sister!