Building Confidence as a Writer

In my March 28th post titled “Why Great Writers Fail at Freelancing,” the fourth reason listed was “Lack of Confidence.” A commenter on the post raised the question of how to know whether you lack confidence or you’re just not talented as a writer. I’ve been pondering that question, and though I don’t have an answer that may fit with every situation, I can tell you what provided me with the confidence to strike out into the writing world with very few writing credentials to give merit to my bold tagline of ‘Crafter of Words.’

When I first started writing beyond my personal journal in 2009, I was directed to a blogging site of sorts where writers could setup profiles and post their writing to be shared on the web publicly. The site featured many different writing genres, from recipes to health articles to poetry to sports to religion; whatever topic you desired to write on, there was a slot for it somewhere.

To begin posting your writing on the internet for anyone in the world to see may sound like a scary thing to you. However, you need to understand, as I did, that someone stumbling across your obscure pieces of writing without you promoting them, is pretty unlikely. Millions of people were not out looking for the writings of some unknown woman in north central Minnesota. When I did finally get my first comment on a piece of poetry, I was actually ecstatic to think someone had actually found it and taken the time to read it.

My first critical comment about my poetry was not received with near as much enthusiasm, of course. For that reason, I don’t recommend beginning your online writing forays on ‘writing’ sites. Those sites can often be brutal to the ego and confidence of a writer. At the same time, we all know full well that you can’t trust family and friends to give unbiased opinions of our writing either. We must find a middle ground.

That may be your own blog, it may be writing on a site similar to where I began (Triond.com), but start somewhere that you can simply write the types of things you’d like to write and gain your words some exposure to those browsing the internet, which allows your readers to also comment on your postings.

Where and how to get your writing read are really not what I want to focus on in this post, however. The point I want to focus on is where I gained the confidence that I might have some talent as a writer. It was the comments that I received, particularly on my poetry, that told me that I had some talent worth sharing.

They weren’t comments like ‘great poem’ or ‘excellent rhyme.’ They were comments like “Your words brought tears to my eyes” or “You said so perfectly what I’ve felt, but haven’t been able to put into words.” Those readers continued to come back to read what I wrote and express their appreciation.

These people, men and women from different parts of the world that I’d never met, read my words and they received something of value from them. Their value and estimation of my worth as a communicator is what gave me the confidence to continue. They were not literature professors who could grade my work on its scholarly merit. But, in my mind, their opinions are a much greater validation than that of any writing contest or esteemed publication.

Dear writer, if there is anyone who enjoys or gains value from reading your writing, then…you are a talented writer. Write for those people. Not the critics, the scholars or even the publishers. And if you become discouraged or beaten down by those who say you aren’t talented ‘enough,’ go back and remind yourself of those who have loved your words. Those whom you’ve made laugh or cry; those who have been challenged by your arguments or gained knowledge from your report. Remember that it is for the reader that you write. No one else.

Now, write. But do not keep your words to yourself. Writing is meant to be read. Share it with readers, not simply those who would critique it’s style and merit as literature, but those who will read it for the purpose for which it was written. Trust your readers. If you have one, two or three who have enjoyed your words, you can trust that they represent many, many more.

2 Comments Building Confidence as a Writer

  1. Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page

    Excellent post, Kathy, for building up writer’s confidence. I saw that if you have the desire to write, if you are thinking about words and stories and how to bring them to light, then you ARE a writer. Keep writing and reading and sharing. Put a bit of it out there and see what happens. My shining moment was when I sent my first story off to Meg at Her Voice and she called me “the author.”

    Play off the Page

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