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Gaining more confidence in your writing

Looking down at a pair of sneakers

Confession time: over the last year or two, I lost a lot of confidence in my writing and my ability as a writer.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I haven’t been happy with a lot of my work from the past 24 months. Which, in turn, put a huge dent in my productivity and in my plans.

I’m slowly regaining my confidence, and I’d like to share with you what I’m doing to get that confidence back. It might help you if you’re in the same situation as me.

Write more

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.

While I talk continuously about pressing the Publish button, sometimes 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.

Stretch yourself

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

I wrote about this a while back, so I won’t repeat those words. Go read that post I’ll be waiting for you to come back.

Done? Great!

There are a number of ways you can do that. Start a blog. Join a writer’s group at Meetup.com. Start a 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.

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