Thursday, June 14, 2018

How to Be A Confident Writer (and Why It's Important)

Over the past weeks, I've received more opinions about my book than I probably ever have. Reaching Home is out on submission again, and the process is more intimidating than I remember.
Meanwhile, I've been spending most of my evenings reviewing submissions myself. I've sent and received rejection letters, and I've communicated with so many authors about their stories and dreams for their books.

I'm a big believer in having confidence in my work, but I've noticed recently how rare this is for authors. Did you know confidence actually helps you sell your story to an agent or publisher? It does!

Not only is it beneficial to you in the traditional publishing world, but confidence is just as important for your own writing health, too. It helps you become more productive with the story you're creating, and it helps you make the right decisions for your plot and characters.

But how can you gain confidence in your project? Here are some of my strategies...

Work Hard Enough to Be Confident.

Give your project the time, love, and attention that it needs, and don't submit your book to prying eyes until it's ready. Get yourself used to editing, and edit multiple drafts on your own. Spend time and energy learning exactly what you want from your plot and characters, and write accordingly. It's no secret that books take years to write, so give yourself grace and let it take time. Work hard and work smart. Write and edit something you'll be proud of.

Filter Opinions.

Once you are ready to show your project around, pick only a few select people to read and review. Too many opinions will overwhelm you and cause you to focus on parts of your story that probably don't matter yet. Everyone is different, so each reader will want something different from your book. That's a beautiful thing, but it isn't beneficial for the beginning stages of a manuscript. You need to create an environment of focus for your project where you can take the time to understand what you wrote and why. Focusing in on your theme and understanding your novel will help you gain confidence and will be better for your project in the long run.

Filter Suggestions.

I like comparing things to scripture, and one of the verses I often think of is Ephesians 4:14: "so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine..." Similarly, I don't want to be "tossed" by every wind of writing suggestions, either. It's important to choose carefully which suggestions to fabricate into your story, and which to leave out. Don't just take someone's suggestion for granted, think each one through carefully before you apply it to your manuscript.

Recognize that just because someone might be a professional or a friend doesn't mean they know what's right for your book. I've had prestigious writers and agents give me very bad advice for my story. I've had others give me great advice. Always be humble and an eager learner, but remember that some people aren't going to understand your story like you do. And that's okay. Be confident enough in your book to know what's good for it... and what might not be.

Have a Best Friend who Understand You and Your Book.

I'm blessed with a lot of creative best friends. But even if your best friend isn't creative, they know you better than anyone else. Keep them updated with your book's progress, and run all your new ideas by them. A lot of times when I do this, I realize my best friends know me even better than I know myself. They recognize whether new ideas are "me" or not, and they'll tell me straight whether or not they can see me writing them. They bring me back to my center, too, always reminding me why I write, and what my goals are. The end is what matters, so have best friends who help you remember your end goals. Having someone close to you reaffirming new ideas and suggestions will make you more confident, and make you a better writer.

Don't Take Rejection Too Hard.

Seriously, don't. An agent or publisher probably isn't rejecting for the reason you think. It's pretty likely your book just isn't what they're looking for right now, or your story doesn't fit with the ones the publisher likes to put out. Sometimes rejections are even good things because they show you that your book wasn't meant for that house. It's really okay. It's much better to find a great publishing house who loves your book and understands stories like yours.

Don't Be Cocky.

Lastly, don't be cocky. I know I'm talking a lot about confidence, and filtering opinions, but don't take it to the next level and be cocky about your story. Confidence and cockiness are two separate things. Always be thinking, but always be open to new ideas. There's forever more to learn in the writing field, and there will always be people who can teach you. Listen to them.

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What are some ways you gain 
confidence as a writer?



  1. I really have trouble with confidence in my capabilities as a writer, so thank you for this post! I am confident in my abilities when I write behind closed doors, but when other people read my work, most of the time, I lose all confidence.

  2. Alea,

    Absolutely! And, you're a great writer. :)

    The best (and hardest) time to know yourself and your manuscript is when you're showing it to other people. It makes such a difference in overall performance. But yeah, it's really difficult, and I feel ya! :)

  3. Great post! No fluff, straight to the point and so fact-filled it’s hard to comment without repeating the point you’ve already made.
    Good stuff!

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