These tips for writing more confidently will help you get published. We start with Stephen King’s tips on writing, and move into a round up of advice from a variety of freelance writers and bloggers.
Because one of these successful writers mentioned On Writing, here’s a quip from the Stephen King, the King of Horror:
“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair – the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart,” writes Stephen King in On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft. “You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.”
Fellow scribes, you shouldn’t approach your blank screen or page lightly – but you can approach it confidently!
13 Tips for Writing More Confidently – Starting With Stephen King
1. Read writers’ memoirs and biographies. “Read about other writers and their experience,” says Suite101 Contributing Writer Colleen Boudreau. “So many of them have questioned themselves as writers, and doubted their own work at one time or another. All the ones I read about received rejections – lots and lots of rejections – and gone on to publish wonderful works. Most recently I have read Stephen King’s On Writing, in which he talks about the vast mountain of rejections he got before he ever became famous – rejections for works fans now drool over. Whenever I receive a rejection I go back and re-read that portion of his book. It helps me to realize that rejection is not a personal affront and keeps me from losing my confidence as a writer based on the rejection.”
2. Don’t compare your writing to other writers. “I find the best basis for comparison is my own history,” says Delta40. “I can measure how I am doing based on results and also by reading earlier material, which allows me to appreciate the development of my own writing skills. If confidence is at stake here, you want to approach each challenge with a belief in your own abilities. This won’t happen if you constantly use the achievements or writing styles of others as a tool to critique your own work. What you can do is identify and explore different styles from material which you read and experiment with it in your own writing.”
3. Savor your writing accomplishments. “Every time you finish a project, whether it is writing an article, book, or anything else, take a few minutes to reflect on your accomplishment,” says Suite101 European Affairs writer Mark Resnicoff. “Recognize this as proof of your abilities.”
4. Take negative feedback and writing rejections in stride. “Some negatives may be useful, so don’t completely ignore them,” adds Resnicoff. “Take anything useful from negative comments and rejections and incorporate them into your repertoire. Toss the rest aside – don’t weigh yourself down – it’s nothing more than heavy baggage that will eventually cause you problems and self-doubt.”
5. Remember your writing achievements. “Re-visit publications you have been published in or gotten a “nod” from (example: “yes, we like your article but just ran a similar one”) in the past and try for another round,” says Catherine Tully of The Freelance Zone. “You are more likely to get through and it will feel good. Plus, it’s smart business.”
6. Remember that rejection isn’t personal. “Remind yourself that the editor may have a backlog of good material, or a million other reasons why they didn’t accept your piece,” says Tully. “Each time you don’t hear from one or get a rejection, it’s tempting to let it erode your self-esteem, but if you practice not taking it personally, your confidence will grow.”
7. Set realistic writing goals. “Set reachable goals for a particular timeline and then work to accomplish them,” says Suite101 editor Mia Carter. “Achieving those goals gives you a sense of success and success leads to confidence. But it’s also important to understand that your goals are your own construct and if necessary, alter them to something more realistic if you find that they’re a bit to lofty.”
8. Become a better writer. “Every writer can improve,” says Tully. “Read a book on grammar. Take a class. Get a critique and apply what you learn. Any time you can work on becoming better, it will help you write more confidently.”
9. Help other writers write more confidently. “There is no confidence builder like sharing what you’ve learned with other writers,” says Tully. “Not only is it a nice thing to do, it makes you realize the fact that you know a little something about the craft. It’s one of the main reasons I have my blog. It is also one of the top reasons I post on Absolute Write. It’s good for everybody!”
10. Send your work out. “I found the best boost to my confidence as a writer was when I placed articles with magazines who PAID me for them,” says Suite101 contributing writer Martin Wilson. “That is an objective opinion unlike one’s own, friends and families. A hard-nosed editor using his limited budget for my work meant I was credible as a writer.”
11. Act as if you’re a confident writer. “Fake it ’til you make it,” advises Jen Nipps, of CreativeTips. “You have to act confident to be confident. That means doing things you would do if you were already confident, including sending out queries and manuscripts to your preferred markets.”
12. Develop all areas of your life. “Learn to be confident as a writer by learning to like yourself,” says Suite101 Aviation writer Helen Krasner. “You can’t develop confidence in one aspect of your life only. When you realize that you’re fine as you are, no better or worse than anyone else, confidence arises naturally…and it spills over into your writing.”
13. Trust yourself as a writer. One of my favorite Simpsons episodes involved a substitute teacher giving Lisa a slip of paper that said, “You are Lisa Simpson.” When I think, “You are Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen,” I feel inspired and more confident as a woman and as a writer. I don’t know why or how it works, but just saying my name makes me trust myself more.
What are your tips for writing more confidently?