We all lose confidence in our writing as we work. It comes in every stage of the writing process, whether you just came up with an idea, you’re halfway through your novel, or you’re revising (where I’m at right now). But losing confidence in your writing isn’t an excuse to give up, or a sign that you’re heading in the wrong direction. Sometimes our lack of self-esteem and doubts about our writing capabilities just get in the way of what we need to do.
So what do you do when you lose confidence in your writing? Well, I might not have a magic formula that makes your problems disappear, but take a look at the tips below to help fight back against your doubts.
Recognize Negative Mindsets
Sometimes negativity hits you out of nowhere. You’re sitting there, minding your own business and staring at the screen, when all of a sudden a thought strikes you. “This is terrible.” “I need to do this, this, or that better.” “Everyone other writer in history writes much better than me.” Once the negative thoughts arrive, you get stuck in a mindset. A mindset difficult to get out of. It becomes a vicious cycle.
For me personally, I start overthinking about my supposed shortcomings. I look at my writing and make a mental list of everything WRONG. I don’t see the good, and I get stuck in a pit of bad, thinking nothing I write makes any difference. Climbing out of your writing void and getting back into writing, takes lots of mental effort and strength. But here’s a few things you can do.
1) Ignore the negativity. Don’t shove the feelings down necessarily. Rather recognize when you’re stuck in a cycle and when these thoughts keep you from moving forward. If you keep thinking negative thoughts over and over, your writing suffers overall. Instead, work on learning what phrases hold you back and immediately start ignoring them when they resurface. Phrases like “This will never be good enough” or “Everything is wrong.”
2) List accomplishments and other positives. Instead of thinking about the negatives of your current writing, think of positive things you accomplished. Write them down in a journal if you need to. After all, you reached this point. You’re heading in the right direction. What skills do you have, and what writing accomplishments did you achieve?
3) Talk to someone. Get your worries off your chest. Sometimes talking to a writing professional who went through the same issues helps you a quite a bit. Getting all your negative thoughts out of your head and out into the air lets you deflate too instead of building your emotions up.
Is Your Confidence More You Than Your Writing?
Ask yourself the big question: am I upset about my writing, or am I upset about myself? Sometimes, as writers, we believe that our writing lacks something good because WE lack something good. We begin losing confidence in what we believe we can achieve because we’re just not “good enough” in our own minds.
Writers believe they don’t have what it takes all the time. Even the best writers believe it. But you need to keep working toward your writing goals to get where you want to be, right? To do so, you need to push the standards that you set for yourself aside. You need to focus on accomplishing your writing goals instead of lamenting your lack of skill, because if you don’t keep writing, you won’t improve at all.
Figure out if your lack of confidence comes from what you’ve been writing or what you think about yourself. Both problems require different solutions, in a way. In both cases, you need to push forward and keep writing. However, when you lack confidence in yourself specifically, there’s no practicing sets of writing skills to improve. Push the thoughts away and keep going, knowing you’re heading in the right direction.
Take A Break
Sometimes the best thing you can do is stop for a second. Let your mind clear for a little while because sometimes losing confidence comes from overworking yourself. You start to get overwhelmed, and nothing looks right. So take a break.
Now, if you have a tight deadline, that’s another story. But putting too much pressure on yourself to finish writing or complete any of your writing goals doesn’t help you. Take a step back and take a deep breath. If you clear your head, you stop yourself from overthinking and feeding into those negative mindsets. Then you’re ready to start working again. Just never underestimate the value of taking some time off. You won’t let anyone down if you stop for a few minutes.
Losing confidence makes it hard to write, to be honest. Pushing forward, despite the anxiety, the perfectionism, or the lack of confidence, remains one of the strongest things you can ever do. Fighting back means you get to where you need to be as a writer. You have to learn and grow, but you need to be tough to do so. After taking a break and finding your footing again, work to push forward. Work toward your writing count, or your page count, or whatever writing goal you have. Just take it one step at a time. Lack of confidence might never go away for you, but don’t let it stop you from getting back in front of your computer and writing again the next day.
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