Confidence is not only a virtue of success but a reinforcer of consistency — the secret behind perennial success.
The writer who is confident will be consistent with his daily work of putting words on paper (or his computer screen) and probably also sharing it with the rest of the world.
Here are seven ideas to help boost your confidence as a writer:
1. Everyone is on a journey of improvement.
Realize that everyone is on a journey of improvement. You are on a pilgrimage just like everyone else. The phases may be different, but the aim is the same — to get better today than you were the day before.
No writer is the same today as they were 12 months ago. The dynamics of the writing process is transformative. It transforms an average writer into a better one.
Every single story you write takes you a step forward in this journey. And with every story you write — whether good or bad — you learn something new and with what you learn you become a better writer than you were before you learnt that lesson.
Improvement comes by applying what you learn when in a similar situation. And the ones that you learn from the most are those in which you did it all wrong before later finding how to do it right.
So the writer that refuses to allow himself to make mistakes misses the greater reward of self-improvement in his writing career.
For the one who fails the most learns the most.
2. A good article or story isn’t an exclusive right of a few.
Everyone has the right to what’s perfect as long as it’s done without fear. That’s why you should write to an audience of one. That is, write what you would like to read.
Sometimes, I feel there’s a Joshua somewhere I’m writing to. It makes the words come out with ease and at the end, with greater satisfaction than if it were to a certain reader I don’t know as much as I know myself.
The idea of writing to a hypothetical reader is good, but it’s much better if you are that reader that you have in your mind. It makes you write without fear. For you don’t fear writing to someone you are used to, and when you write without fear, you write what is perfect because what’s perfect is what’s done without fear.
3. There’s no punishment when you don’t get it right.
Instead, getting it wrong is the only way you will get it right the next time.
The aim isn’t perfection but progress and there’s no such thing as perfect progress for every progress is an imperfect step towards perfection.
For just as the way up is down so does imperfection lead the way to perfection.
Ditch the idea and notion that your performance has to be perfect as if perfection is about being error-free. Instead, realize that perfection is more about performing without fear than without errors.
In the game of writing, they’ve nothing to lose from doing it wrong instead you have a lot to gain. Realizing what you’ve done wrong is the only way you will know to do it better the next time.
Don’t be scared of getting it wrong because there’s no punishment when you do. And you should also never come to a place where doing it right becomes an obsession. For nothing feeds the ego and corrupts creativity like an unhealthy obsession to always do it right at all costs.
So, be grateful when you write and the story fails by the definition of men. But realize that every failure is a step towards success. Let that feed your mind with joy in your journey to the top.
4. Writers are empathetic — they feel and can identify with the struggles of others.
Most top writers are so empathic because they were once where it was difficult to write more than 500 words no matter how hard they try; where it was practically impossible to drive a point to a logical conclusion.
Every writer you see at the top was once struggling with what has become like second nature now.
That realization makes writers some of the most humane persons you will ever come across.
I have had some writers who are far older and more academically qualified than I read my stories and leave some private note or helpful comments on how to do it better the next time. That attitude towards young writers has given me hope than any other single factor.
5. People are not as critical as they sound.
People sound critical, especially when they do not understand your point of view. When you calm down and realize that the harsh comment is a plea for clarity, then you will turn a casual guy into a bosom friend.
The first time I got a critical comment I didn’t know enough to know it was a plea for clarity. I didn’t reply to the writer even after reading the comment. And since that day, I’ve never seen him applaud or respond to any of my stories.
Again after publishing this story, another writer left what seems like a harsh comment. Initially, I wanted to give a harsh reply but I give myself a little time to calm down and then wrote what sounded like an explanation for the point of view I took on the story. The response I later got from him was friendly and reassuring.
Never forget, every overly critical comment is a plea for clarification, not an attempt to make you lose face.
6. Read what you’ve written in the past.
Nothing gives confidence like a sense of progress and improvements.
The idea that you should compete only with whom you were yesterday is a good point. The best yardstick to measure your progress today is with what you were yesterday. And as writing would have it, you can only get better as long as you keep writing and publishing your work. The reason is that the corrections and encouragement you get as feedback make the next attempt more colourful and better written.
Apart from the one you get from others, by reading what you’ve written in the past, you get some positive feedback on how much you have improved over time. And that is a good feeling that powers confidence and makes you feel good about yourself.
So don’t throw away your notes. Keep them so you can measure your current progress against it. Because in the end, you are the most credible person you should compete with.
7. Be grateful for wherever you are.
Fear and gratitude can’t coexist in the same mind at the same time. As long as you learn to be grateful for where you are in your journey as a writer, you will find confidence in your competence.
People give up trying when they become discouraged as they compare their progress with those of others. But if on the other hand, you compare your progress today with what you were yesterday; it becomes easy to be grateful and as you become grateful, you will have confidence in your competence and skill to get better tomorrow by doing your work today.
A grateful heart can’t entertain fear and the heart without fear can’t be conquered by the harsh comments of critics and the rejection that comes from submitting some of your best works to some publications.
Gratitude is a bulletproof against most of what will be shot at you in your journey as a writer.
No one is immune against the wind of life, but if you keep becoming grateful for where you are and what you have become, the wind of discouragement will have less effect on your mind. And with that, you will wake up each day eager to do your work. And as you do, your competence will increase as you get better with each effort. Ultimately, you will develop an undefeated mind — the mind of an overcomer.
I wish you an amazing experience as you put your heart to your work and have the confidence to do your work each day without fear.