Almost nothing good comes out of not writing. Except maybe laundry. Laundry might get done.
When we don’t write, the voices in our head can make up all sorts of stories that just aren’t true. When we don't write, we let those voices win. When we do write—it's our voice that wins.
Recently, when I went to my first Atheneum writing retreat and group meeting, my head immediately filled with all of these stories about how horrible I was at writing, how I’ll never compare to the rest of the writers, or that if I write, it may be terrible, and the faculty will wonder what the hell I was doing there, it was all a big mistake.
But then I went, and I wrote, and the voices disappeared, and you know what? What I wrote was pretty good. Yeah, it’ll need some editing and polishing, but all good writing does. But it was also really great feedback. (See below.)
When we do write, we’re automatically working those muscles that we need to be our best writers—and that don’t get worked enough. (Our minds have a fantastic way of creating stories. Great for creativity, bad for productivity.) We’re focusing our efforts on what it is we want to write about, not so much how we want to be writers, and our brain works with us, not against us.
Throw some writing exercises in, and stress less about what you’re writing and more about the process of writing, and you start to use the writer part of your brain, the part that creates new worlds and uses words that shift people’s ways of thinking.
When we do write, even if what we write is shit, it gives us a place to start, tells us what we need in our writing. Instead of not writing, and judging ourselves according to old stories, if we write, and write anything, if we don’t like it, that’s feedback—valuable feedback. Maybe you learn that you can’t quite form your thoughts, or you can’t “find the words” to explain your idea, or you get stuck at the same place--every—single—time. Start here. Not with what others tell you that you need to write.
But if you do write, you’ve just written! That builds momentum. You’ve got something to work off of and something to grow. And what if you write, and it’s good? Maybe all you need now is an experienced editor, someone to guide you through the next steps!
When you write, you can compare your writing to your writing and no one else’s. Sometimes, when we look outside of ourselves to start writing, we try to find the hottest how-to book, or we look for blogs that turn it into some easy formula (often without success—you should have seen some of the awful advice when I did a quick search for "confident writing" after writing this to see what came up). (By the way, there is no "formula."). But when you do this, you automatically start comparing yourself to other writers or bloggers—plus, you’re not being fair to your own true and authentic voice.
Want to build your confidence?
Stop talking—or stop the voices from talking—and write. I'm holding a 7-session show-up-and-write workshop based on getting you writing by committing to it, and growing your confidence by doing the work and building off of everything you write, wherever you are in your writing.