Writing novels is one of those things that many people from around the world dream of doing professionally.
It’s no wonder, then, that there are so many different resources out there for authors, ranging from web forums, to all sorts of instructional books, to regular challenges such as “National Novel Writing Month.”
With the rise of eBooks in recent years, and the explosive growth of self-publishing, more and more people are actively pursuing their ambitions of becoming successful authors. And yet, it’s much easier to read about how to become the best writer you can be, than it is to actually sit down in front of the blank page, and get writing.
Developing confidence is important in all sorts of different areas of life, and it’s no less important when it comes to actually writing. Here are a few tips for building your confidence to write.
Start writing just for yourself, without showing anyone else what you are working on
If you’re extremely nervous about your writing, and are caught up in overthinking about your word choice, or the way you’ve framed a particular scene in your first draft, then part of the reason you’re feeling so nervous is probably because you’re imagining how other people would react to your story.
First and foremost, it’s important that you become comfortable with writing for its own sake, and not with trying to craft perfect stories that you think everyone else will love.
Start writing just for yourself, without anyone else seeing what you’re working on. This should always be the policy for your first draft anyway, but it’s reassuring to remind yourself that if you finish a short story, novella, or even a huge novel, you don’t actually have to show it to anyone else or to attempt to publish it if you don’t feel good about it.
Writing is a skill in and of itself, and the only way to practice that skill is to write. So, start writing, without worrying about having to show anyone else what it is you are writing.
Push yourself through the process of writing and editing your stories – practice builds confidence
If you frequently get a couple of pages into a manuscript and then completely lose heart and abandon the project, you are not developing the skill of writing and editing a complete story – and, therefore, you are not developing your confidence to do so, either.
Every written story involves a first draft created from beginning to end, and then a number of rounds of editing and rewriting. If you ever want to feel confident in your ability to churn out a powerful novel, you need to familiarise yourself with this entire process.
In other words, start pushing yourself through the entire process of writing and editing stories until they are done. You could even just start with short stories of around 500 to 1000 words. But the more you practice, the more confident you will feel.
Consider writing your manuscript
without using pen and paper
There’s no doubt that the majority of writers these days use digital word processing tools to create their manuscripts, from the first draft on. But, it’s worth keeping in mind that, historically, all books up to a certain point in time were written with pen and paper. Even today, some critically acclaimed authors have revealed that they used this method for their first drafts.
There are various potential benefits of writing a manuscript out using pen and paper, when it comes to your confidence to write. Firstly, it’ll be much harder for you to commit to sweeping edits while you are in the middle of writing. For another thing, you won’t have all the constant distractions of the Internet right there, in front of you.
Beyond all that, though, there’s also something really relaxing and visceral about feeling your pen scratch across the page.
Read biographies of other writers
If you’re an aspiring author, you probably look at your favourite novelists as semi-mythical creatures with completely different lives, feelings and impulses to your own.
Often, it can be a positive confidence-building exercise to read the biographies of other writers.
Firstly, this will show you that they are all just people like you, and have had their share of challenges as well. Then, reading biographies will also likely give you some useful ideas that you can carry over to your own writing.