How to be a more confident writer

Are you a confident writer?

Does the thought of publishing your writing online make you tremble?

Do you wonder how you can be a more confident writer?

Does the thought of having your words out there in the world for anyone to read make you feel anxious?

You’re not alone. Read on.

Barriers to building confidence as a writer

Plenty of people are apprehensive about posting their work for varied reasons. Some are nervous about sharing a deeply personal story that could identify others and then worrying about the consequence. Some are scared of attracting trolls and cyber bullies. Others are worried their writing is not good enough and will be ridiculed. You might be comparing your first draft to someone’s else’s highly edited and polished result and feel inadequate as a result of the comparison.

But, if you’re looking for a hug and someone to say ‘there, there, everything’s going to be OK’ you’ve come to the wrong blog.

I’m not here to invalidate your reasons. They’re your reasons. You get to keep them for as long as you want to be bound by them.

What the confident writer knows

Confidence is not 'They will like me'. Confidence instead is 'I'll be fine if they don't'
Confidence is not ‘They will like me’. Confidence instead is ‘I’ll be fine if they don’t’

Whatever your reasons for feeling apprehensive about publishing your work online, here are some truths to help you become a confident writer.

Call yourself a writer

Let it roll off your tongue. I am a writer.

What comes up for you? What monkey chatter is going on in your brain? Acknowledge it, then move past it.

Mindset is one of the biggest barriers to building confidence as a writer. The more comfortable you become calling yourself a writer without the negative monkey chatter, the easier it will become to hit publish.

Practice practice practice

No one gets good at something by just thinking about doing it. And no one ever lucks out with divine intervention. Experts are made, not born.

The more your practice, logic follows that the better you’ll become. So, write write write and watch your writing and confidence improve.

The more you publish and put your work out there, the easier it will become.

No one is reading you anyway

There, I said it. Post away. Chances are, very few eyes are reading the work you publish online anyway.

It can take a long time to build an audience where people are regularly reading your work. So, if you’re in the early stages of your online writing journey, very few people will be reading your work.

No one is judging you

When was the last time you critically analysed someone’s work online?

Did you break it down line-by-line and dispute the writer’s opinion?

Did you leave a harsh comment?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

No one has time to judge your writing. Set it free.

Outsource editing and proofreading

Let’s get practical.

If one of the reasons you’re reluctant to publish is because you’re worried about publishing content with typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, hire a professional editor or proofreader to go over your work.

An editor will look at your work from a structural perspective and suggest changes to the text to make it flow better. They will help improve your writing by editing your content to bring greater clarity and brevity.

A proofreader will fix typos and spelling or grammar mistakes in the final draft before publication. They won’t suggest edits to the structure or changing your content other than to fix errors.

If you can’t afford to hire an editor or proofreader, find a copy buddy, someone you can swap work with and edit and proofread each other’s work. A second set of eyes on your week could give you the confidence you need to hit publish without the cringe factor.

Use online tools to help improve your spelling and grammar

Working as an SEO copywriter, I build the cost of an external proofreader into my final drafts.

But what about the initial draft I send a client?

I use Grammarly, a tool that’s like MS Word’s Spelling and Grammar tool on steroids. Try out the free online version, install the browser extension so it works within your browser, or pay for a full subscription and get the MS Word add-on.

Grammarly is a fantastic tool. Sure, we often argue about the placement of commas or whether a split infinitive is OK, but if you apply common sense and don’t take all of Grammarly’s advice literally, you’ll end up with a draft that is well-polished and hopefully free from major errors.

Using Grammarly on those early drafts gives me the confidence to send my client my copywriting work before a proofreader has done their magic and without stressing about mistakes that distract from the content.

Another excellent tool is Hemmingway. While it doesn’t proofread your work like Grammarly, it highlights words you could delete, identifies sentences written in the passive voice and shows you which sentences are too long. It gives you a reading grade score, too. I aim for content at Grade 8 level or lower.

Be a good reader

One of the best ways to improve your writing ability and therefore your writing confidence is to read widely and prolifically.

You will learn what you like and if you probe a little deeper, figure out why. Reading widely can also help develop your own voice so that you sound distinct from others writing in the same industry as you.

Let go and hit publish

Is it time to get over yourself?

Hit publish. What’s the worst thing that will happen? Tell me in the comments below. I’d love to know what holds you back from publishing your content.

Originally published at The Smarter Writer.