“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” – Suzy Kassem.
Finding confidence in your writing, let alone confidence in yourself, can sometimes be a battle to achieve — But a factor that many writers tend to overlook is that the two go hand in hand. If you have ever experienced that low nagging voice behind your ear that says, “you’re no good” or “just give up already!” I am here to tell you that you are not alone.
That voice of insecurity or fear has been programmed by your mind to protect you from what may cause you harm, and that is how many writers perceive the idea of critiques: something that can be potentially harmful to our egos and to our self-esteem. Something that can either represent our success or failure… but most of the time we assume it will be failure. Something that reflects the societal acceptance or rejection of our blood, sweat, and tears in the form of the piece of writing we slaved away hours on. But are these really rational fears?
Many times fear is the biggest reason some writers never get their ideas on paper. You see the problem? How can you improve your writing if you don’t have faith enough in yourself to get your ideas out!
Today I am going to share with you techniques to silencing that nagging voice for good and help you conquer your fears and self-doubt.
Being confident is a mindset.
- Be aware.
Changing the way you think about yourself or your writing will require a conscious effort. Our minds are much more flexible than we realize, which makes us all wonderfully complex beings. However, there is a downside to this. With all the elasticity our brain has to offer it also has the tendency to snap right back to old habits and adopt the same unhealthy mind frame that can keep us stagnant and insecure. That’s why awareness is the first step to achieving a more confident outlook on your life as well as in your work.
“Change your habits, change your life.”
What do you need to be aware of?
Subconsciously you could be sabotaging your efforts toward self improvement just with the way you think. Realizing this possibility is entirely frightening, but fortunately, there are ways to stop stunting your growth by reprogramming your mind to block out the negative things it tries to convince you that you are (or are not.)
Train your mind:
- Positive reinforcement
By paying attention to the patterns of thoughts you tend to have, you can identify the habits you have developed that keep you from reaching your full potential. Once this is identified you can pay more attention to replacing those thoughts with positive affirmations and using it as a shield to protect you from negative ones. YES, this actually does work.
Begin the day with something positive you have to say about yourself or your writing. Look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I am worth it” or “I am a wonderful writer” … “I am better today than I was yesterday, and I will keep getting better”– alter the affirmations to what you feel you are insecure about and Repeat them throughout the day, especially when you feel a negative thought trying to penetrate the new shield you just put up.
Repetition is a key to this process because habits are built by practicing certain behaviors until they occur naturally. Just like exercising a muscle, the more focus you put into a certain area the more you are able to strengthen it.
- Pay attention to what makes you feel good
It may be the cup of tea or coffee you have beside you when you write as soon as you wake up in the morning, a three-mile run before you snuggle up to a book, or dressing up like your going out even if you plan to just plop yourself in front of the computer and type all day long — whatever it is, do it. Do what makes you feel good and forget whatever else there is to say about it! (Unless it causes you or anyone around you any direct harm, of course.)
This goes for people, too. Surround yourself with people who have a mindset which is driven like yours. People who support you and motivate you rather than individuals who eagerly try to steer you away from what you are aiming for. I find that being around other writers is incredibly inspiring and can be very stimulating for confidence building as well as story writing. (If you don’t know any writers other than yourself, watching YouTube videos of writers talking about their creative process can help you gain perspective and motivation as well.)
- Celebrate the wins, especially on the bad days
When everything around you already seems to be out of order — missed word-count goals, mishaps with the save button on your computer, the world baring its entire weight on your shoulders — the last thing you need to be doing is kicking yourself when you’re down. Instead of focusing on how hopelessly bad your day (or week) might be going, think of how you felt when you accomplished something spectacular. This thing could be really small, such as organizing your writing area, or huge like receiving an award for something you wrote previously. Once you have that memory, hold on to it. Breathe it in as if you were in that moment again. Get back in that mindset. When you open your eyes you should have a new perspective on the situation that lies in front of you as well as have a clearer visualization of yourself and your true capabilities.
Its important to never punish yourself for what you feel you lack. Writing can be stressful in and of itself without you having to abuse yourself for not writing as well as J.K. Rowling. Recognize that you are different and whatever you produce will be bursting at the seems with your originality. That there is a win. Don’t be afraid to show yourself a little TLC.
- Understand your capabilities and learn where you need to improve
Skills, knowledge, health, and self-reliance all inspire self-confidence. By maintaining an accurate view of yourself and your abilities you will not need to waste time painting a picture of yourself that is incomplete. No more needless comparisons to more successful writers, entrepreneurs, friends or family members. What good comes of that anyway? They got to where they are because they worked on themselves and that’s exactly what you need to do. Focus on you.
In many ways, we are all works in progress since we all have room to improve. Every day is a day to learn new things, polish up our talents, and progress as human beings. The problem is that many times the thing we seem to search for in ourselves is something we won’t ever reach. Perfection.
Perfection is an illusion set by society and portrayed through media — but it is not really ideal. When we realize that perfection is unattainable we can remove the biggest mental roadblock we could ever set for ourselves. Overall, it is important to learn about yourself in your writing journey. Strengthen your weak points while you take advantage of your assets where you are most strong.
Practice, practice, practice…
Instead of ruminating on the areas you need to work on, feeling bad, and considering the option of quitting, practice your skill. (I’m sure this has occurred to you, but sometimes we need the reminder.) Practice so you can learn to trust yourself and your capabilities. Talking about writing or thinking about writing is not writing! Practice so that you can finish that first draft and learn where you need to improve, and most of all so you can learn that the fears you have of readers ripping up your writing was, after all, an irrational fear to begin with.
Of course, it takes hard work and commitment — but it will all be worth it in the end.