I’ve been lying to you. And I’ve been lying to myself. See Jane Write is not actually about writing.
Sure, I host group writing sessions and critique workshops for See Jane Write Collective members. I post tips about writing on the See Jane Write blog and even share tips about writing on social media. But I’ve come to realize that See Jane Write isn’t really about writing or blogging or even building a personal brand.
See Jane Write is about building confidence.
In 2009 I quit my job as a full-time newspaper reporter to be a teacher. I knew I wanted to keep writing and blogging on my own and I knew that in order to do that I was going to need a group of women writers cheering me on. After two years of searching for and not finding the kind of writing group I needed I started my own. I started See Jane Write because I needed community and I needed that community to give me confidence.
I’ve continued See Jane Write for 8 years because I soon found that plenty of other women needed their writing confidence boosted, too, and I saw that See Jane Write could do just that.
Here are 7 ways to build your writing confidence:
Declare that you are a writer. Stop calling yourself an “aspiring writer.” You may be an aspiring author if you’ve never published a book or an aspiring blogger if you have yet to launch your site, but to be a writer all you have to do is write. So write and declare to yourself and everyone else that you are a writer.
Remember why you write. When you’re facing rejection letters from agents, magazines and literary journals and when your blog pageviews just won’t grow it’s easy to get discouraged and start asking yourself why you even bother. So you’re going to need an answer for that. Why do you bother? Why do you write? Take a moment to really think about this and make a list of as many reasons as you can think of. Read over this list on the bad days when your motivation and inspiration are running low.
Silence your inner critic. Of course, constructive criticism is good. Constructive criticism makes us better writers. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about that nasty little voice, that mean girl inside your head that keeps telling you that your writing sucks, that it always has sucked and it always will suck. She needs to shut up. To keep your inner mean girl quiet try reading personal reflections from well-known writers, reflections that get real about the good, the bad, and the ugly of the writing life so that you can see that even the writers you look up to struggle with the same problems you do. Honest quotes about the writing process can help, too, as can composing your own affirmations. But the absolute best way to silence your inner critic is to study your craft. Read books and take classes that will help you improve your writing skills and teach you more about narrative form, character development, and even grammar.
Related Reading: 10 Affirmations to Silence Your Inner Critic
Celebrate your accomplishments. So what if you didn’t publish a book by age 30? Who cares if you didn’t see your byline in your favorite magazine by age 40? Stop dwelling on the things you haven’t done and start celebrating the things that you have — even things that aren’t related to writing. Making a list of all the things you’ve accomplished in life will give you the confidence that you can do even more. If you’re a single mom who’s raised an amazing kid all by yourself then, of course, you can self-publish a book. If you’ve trained for and completed a marathon, of course, you have the discipline to blog.
Keep an idea book. Don’t let your fear of writer’s block stop you from getting starting. Instead keep a book of ideas and challenge yourself to write down 10 new ideas every day. Soon you’ll become an idea machine and writer’s block will be no match for you!
Just write. Because I’m often asked to speak at local writing and blogging conferences people often ask me what’s the key to overcoming a fear of public speaking. My answer? Public speaking. You can’t talk yourself out of your fear of public speaking. You just have to speak in front of people again and again and when you do it gets easier and easier or even if it doesn’t get easier you at least figure out it won’t kill you. It’s the same with writing. You aren’t going to build your writing confidence by just thinking about writing. You have to actually write and you have to share your writing with others whether that’s on a blog or in a writing group.
Get feedback on your work. You can spend the rest of your life only writing in your journal or in Google Docs that you share with no one and you would still be a writer. But if you’ve bothered to read to the end of this post chances are you want to be a writer who makes an impact and an income and to do that other people need to read and appreciate your work, too. This is why all writers need a critique group. You need a group of fellow writers who will read your work and give you both the kudos and the constructive criticism you need to keep going and to keep getting better along the way.
April 8-28 I’ll be hosting a FREE 21-day challenge to help women like you build the confidence, commitment, and creativity you need to get serious about writing. Be sure to sign up for the See Jane Write email list so you’ll be notified when registration for the challenge opens.