Sometimes, when I’m writing, I still doubt myself. And I’ve been doing this for a long time.
OK, you caught me. I still doubt myself about 50 percent of the time.
Which means I’m not 100 percent confident about half of the blog posts I write.
Yet I publish them all. Every single one.
I use WordPress’s drafts feature as a convenient way to store ideas for future blog posts. So technically, I do have 14 unpublished drafts taking up space right now. And it’s very likely that about half of those will end up in the trash. (You know how it goes – what seemed like a good idea at the time doesn’t seem as good weeks or even days later.)
But I have a very strict rule, which I’ve held myself to pretty much since I started this blog in 2009: once I start writing a post, I have to publish it.
It might go through some revisions. I might completely change the angle along the way.
There isn’t a single post that I’ve started writing that I’ve completely abandoned, left never to be seen.
Actually, there’s a pretty good reason explaining why I do this: I cannot afford to let a lack of confidence interrupt my responsibilities as a writer. None of us can.
Believe me, if I based whether or not I published a blog post based on how confident I felt about it, you wouldn’t hear from me much. (And I just know that would break all of your hearts … heh).
I’ve always had issues with self-confidence. Yet I’ve made a career out of writing largely due to the fact that I realized early on how much a lack of confidence can destroy an aspiring writer.
When you’re not confident about something you’ve written, there is really only one way to fix it: publish it anyway. Submit it anyway. Show it to someone anyway. Because if you don’t, you’ll never get over it. You might even start to believe you can’t do it, because you’ve never even given yourself the chance to succeed.
It’s completely acceptable to write posts and then let them sit untouched for awhile. This is just another weird thing I do that has actually turned out in my favor. Do be mindful of your gut, though. If you’ve written something that you feel really shouldn’t go public – something that reveals personal details about someone without their consent; something you wrote when you were mad/sad/dangerously caffeinated; something offensive – it’s also OK not to publish it. Use your judgment, and your common sense.
But if the only thing stopping you from hitting publish is that you’re afraid people won’t like what you’ve written – or you don’t want to make it public because you just don’t think it will ever be good enough – it’s time to start learning to trust yourself more. You know what you’re doing. The best way to build up confidence in the face of fear and doubt is to put your work out there, even if it scares you.
Show it off.
It’s probably not going to be perfect. That’s a good thing. It means you have a special kind of motivation to keep writing – so you can improve, and do better next time.
Half of confidence is convincing yourself you’re not terrified. This is a really effective, virtually harmless way to practice gathering up the strength to do what you don’t think you can do.
Go for it. Somewhere down the line, you’ll be extremely glad you did.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.