How to Feel Consistently Confident About Your Writing

A good friend of ours, Dave Navarro of Rock Your Day (no, not the guitar player), consistently kicks our ass around as much as we kick his. Hey, we’re equal opportunity guys like that. Ass-kicking is fun.

Dave is more than just a target for our boots, though. He’s the kind of rare guy that can get James to think deep thoughts and get Harry to sleep better at night. Dave is also someone who writes so well that we both sigh in envy.

So, Dave, thank you for being part of our little blog pack – and we hope that this moment of spotlight at our blog helps us give back a little in return for what you give us.

It’s easy to fall in love with a writer’s style. Once a writer has captured your heart, you catch yourself waiting on the edge of your seat for the next novel, the next short story, or even the next blog post. And in that waiting period, the silence gives you an opportunity to hear that little voice in your head, the one that whispers those seven deadly words you don’t want to hear …

I wish I could write like that.

Those seven words can plant a dangerous seed in the mind of even the most accomplished authors, making them second-guess their abilities and wonder if they’re really cut out for this writing business after all. And what begins as a tiny sliver of self-doubt takes on a life of its own. Writing without intimidation becomes harder and harder, and what was once a source of joy becomes tainted by the bitter taste of fear. What if your writing isn’t good enough?

Don’t Let Self-Doubt Poison Your Ability To Write

We’ve all felt the pangs of fear that what we are writing won’t be well received – that some reader or critic will take the knife of blunt criticism and plunge it into our backs, twisting away. That feeling of dread can actually alter the style of your writing, forcing you to wonder how you can write something that will please everybody rather than writing from the heart. Your writing becomes cold, stilted, lifeless.

You don’t want that. Deep down, you don’t want to let fear dictate how you write, but you know that there are times when you do feel intimidated, and you’re not quite sure how to get out of that state of mind. If you know exactly what I’m talking about, the way to escape this “writer’s hell” is to make a pre-emptive strike at self-doubt using the tools of the trade themselves – pen and paper.

And you’re going to squeeze every ounce of fear out of them by listing all the good things you can about your ability to write.

Testimonials Aren’t Just For Book Covers

You’re familiar with the blurbs on the backs of books or in the inside sleeves, the testimonials from critics and authors talking about how good the book is. Chances are you’ve read them before thinking, “I hope someone says such great stuff about me one day.” Guess what – today’s the day.

You’re going to make a set of blurbs for yourself that you can reflect on every time the pangs of self-doubt dare to surface – a list of reasons why you rock that will make you feel good about yourself when the going gets tough. Here’s how to start:

  • Think back to every good thing someone has ever said about your writing. Write it down, as if it were a quote on the back of a book. Search your email, your personal letters, your blog comments – anywhere that might hold a nugget waiting to be captured. Write it all down (I recommend doing this by hand, because things you write – rather than type – stick in your mind more deeply).
  • Get honest about the times people gave you negative feedback on your writing and you did something about it – honing and improving your writing skills as a result. Make notes to yourself about how you’re a better writer than you were back then, and how you’re still improving.
  • Ask around to all the other writers you know, people who have seen your content before, and ask them a simple question: “What is it that stands out about my writing?” Ask them to give you something that they really like about your writing – and while you have their attention, ask them where you can improve (so you can have more ammo for the previous step moving forward).
  • Give back to the writers you like to read. Being human, they are as hungry for some honest, positive feedback as you are. Who knows – what you say may just change their entire career (or their life), simply because you believed in them.

Now It’s Your Turn – Give Up Some Love

At Men With Pens, the comments are always filled with active writers – many with their own blogs that you already read regularly. As in all things in life, giving is better than receiving, so please take a moment right now to leave a comment telling another writer what you like about their writing.

And to make sure the love gets spread around, please make sure if you leave a comment about Harry, James or myself that you make sure to leave a second comment to a most deserving author who merits the attention.

You know what to do – give first in the comments below, then get to work on your own list. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Dave Navarro can be found sharing the good stuff on the Rock Your Day blog (a Men with Pens design!). Subscribe to Dave’s blog today so you don’t miss a beat, you sexy beast you.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.