Writing Wednesdays: How to write a book when your confidence is rock-bottom

Writing a book is hard enough, but when you've got a stellar idea and zero confidence? Damn near impossible. In this post, I share some advice on how to handle that very situation.

So you’ve got the idea for your book, and no confidence to write it. What the hell are you supposed to do?

I get a surprising amount of messages from people asking me for help on this. Often, they either haven’t really written anything before, or they simply have no confidence in their writing ability, and even though they have what they feel is a great idea for a book, they’re too scared to write it. They just don’t have the confidence.

If that sounds like you, I’m hoping this post will be of some help to you.

It might seem like a good idea to ‘start small’ as it were – to start with a short story, or some poems, or something like that, rather than just throwing yourself into writing an entire novel. But, that may not be the best option. I know that when I get an idea for a new book, I’m practically possessed with this need to write the book and start it and my fingers are itching to get to work on my keyboard.

So, let me give you one solid piece of advice here: experience does not matter. You shouldn’t let a lack of experience in writing, or a lack of confidence, get in your way.

‘But I’ve never written anything before.’

So make a start. I know that’s easier said than done, but I promise you that once you start writing, and once you let yourself get into it, the worst is over.

You might like this post on how to start writing your novel (and how to carry on).

‘But I don’t think my writing is any good.’

I didn’t either, not until I had support from Wattpad. Okay, so maybe your grammar leaves something to be desired, and your spelling isn’t very good, and your sentence structure isn’t wonderful. I don’t think that should stop you writing, not if you really want to. You can improve on these things – by practice, by reading other books, even by looking for specific help online on how to improve these skills.

You might like this post on how to deal with writers’ block.

‘I want to write this idea but I know my writing really sucks.’

You’ll get better, believe me. They say practice makes perfect, right? My writing is still developing. I’m still working on it and finding things I want to improve. I look back at some of the writing I did a few years ago and shudder in horror because it was so BAD compared to how I write now. You can and will get better – so don’t let that get in your way.

And if your writing does suck, and you’re convinced it does – well, who cares?

Seriously, you never have to show your work to anybody. Not your mum, not your best friend, not anybody if you don’t want to. That was one of my biggest fears, before Wattpad – showing someone what I was writing. And even after Wattpad, I was nervous for people I knew to read my work because I still thought it was rubbish.

Read this post on why you should be publishing your story online.

If you have no confidence in your writing, then you really don’t have to show your work to anybody. You can write just because you want to. You don’t have to share it with anyone. But don’t let a lack of confidence stop you from writing in the first place, please.

Once you’ve tackled those barriers – the only question is, where to start?

The beginning.

Open up that notebook, or Word document, or whatever it is you want to write on, and just start. Your first chapter – heck, the first sentence – might be dreadful, but you can always delete it and try again, and try for something better. Something you’re happier with.

Trust me, first drafts are hardly ever the final draft. Just getting something down on the page can be soooo difficult, but it’s a start, and that’s the most important thing. You can edit it as much as you want after – but then, at least, you’ll have something to edit. Something to work from. Something to work with.

Do you have any advice on writing when you're not feeling confident? Share in the comments!

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