Do you struggle with self-confidence? Does it constantly hold you back from reaching your writing goals and achieving your greatest ambitions?
You’re not alone. Many people who want to write never actually do it. They’re too afraid of being judged. Criticism feels like the worst possible outcome to a lot of people. And I can understand why.
I’ve dealt with this my whole life. Confidence issues combined with impostor syndrome feels a lot like I’m just writing terrible things all day long that no one actually cares about.
But do you know what? I keep writing things anyway, whether they’re good or not. Because no matter how confidence-deficient I might be most of the time, you don’t get anywhere in life giving in to the fear that people won’t like you. I get bashed on Twitter all the time because of my job. Who cares?
I mean … I do. But I don’t let that stop me. And neither should you.
If you lack self-confidence, and it’s standing in the way of your writing, you’re pretty much the only thing stopping you. Here’s what’s helped me along my journey to “becoming” a writer.
It doesn’t matter how awful you think your writing is. It doesn’t matter how much it scares you to put yourself out there. It doesn’t matter how terribly you react to criticism in the safety and privacy of your own personal domain.
No one else has to know. Or wants to.
Publishing a piece of writing is sort of like walking into a job interview. You wouldn’t go in there and degrade yourself or tell your prospective employer not to hire you because you don’t think you are good enough.
No. You walk into a job interview with your head high, and you list off your accomplishments and aspirations as if you truly believe they are worth something.
I think part of you already does believe your past successes and future goals have worth. There’s just a much louder, more assertive part of you saying they don’t.
Many, many writers lack confidence. But they’re also very good at hiding it. Many more deal with impostor syndrome, and have simply learned to accept praise and recognition with genuine gratitude whether they fully believe they deserve it or not.
The more you keep doing the things you think you aren’t good at, the more you’ll realize you have a much lesser opinion than yourself than most other people do. (The reality is that most people don’t have an opinion of you at all, because you’re one of like 7 billion or whatever, but you get the point.)
Will you gain more confidence over time? Is this a “fake it till you make it” kind of scenario? I think that depends on the person. I’ve been writing, technically, for almost 20 years. I’m still not confident in most of the things I create. I do it anyway, because it makes me happy. People are going to either judge you or ignore you, praise you or tear you down. That’s life. It’s going to happen whether you’re willing to accept it or not.
Talk about your work as if it’s important. As if it truly matters. Because to you, it obviously does, or you never would have bothered to write it. Audiences are drawn to confidence. Show them you’re someone worth following, even if you’re not always sure you want them to.
Don’t let yourself sabotage your own future. If I can make it through, you can, too.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.