One Thing You Should Do to Become a More Confident Writer
I recently wrote a post for a blog carnival at DIY Writer’s Bucket List called “I AM A Writer.” After I wrote the post, I realized that it’s really about becoming a confident writer. Here’s the first paragraph of my entry.
“I was a reader long before I was a writer. Reading allowed me to run with Misty on Chincoteague, fly on Orville the albatross with Bernard and Bianca, and solve mysteries with Frank and Joe Hardy and their friend Chet.”
When I talk to writers, the subject of confidence (or, rather, a lack of it) regularly comes up. I know I’m a good writer, yet I often second-guess myself when it’s time to submit something. I’ve read beautiful writing, only to have the author shyly insist that it “isn’t really that good,“ and their protestations do not stem from false modesty.
This lack of confidence keeps a great deal of good writing from ever being read by anybody other than the author. So, what can you do to become a more confident writer? The answer is so simple that you will probably scoff, but I hope you will read to the end and maybe I can convince you that sometimes the simplest answer actually works.
So, what’s the secret? Writers must read. Yes, reading is my answer to becoming a more confident writer.
Reading benefits us in countless ways, but there are 2 key ways reading can help you write confidently.
Reading increases your creativity by feeding your imagination
– creativity cannot flourish in a vacuum; neither can writers. If you shut yourself up in a turret, your creative spark will eventually sputter and die
– think about some of your favourite books. Can you remember scenes, characters, or ideas? I can. Yes, it is a cliché but that doesn’t diminish its truth: reading opens the world and your mind. I can still remember the excitement I felt when I read about Zanzibar, Marrakesh, the Silk Road, or the Knights Templar. When you experience that excitement as a reader, you can translate it into your writing
– when you add experiences and ideas and excitement to your writing, you see the difference almost immediately, which gives you the confidence to continue writing
Reading Teaches You How to Write
– not only does reading give you ideas to write about, it also gives you a sense of how to write. Even the worst books have lessons for writers because reading bad writing can teach you important lessons about how to be a good writer
– it doesn’t matter what genre you prefer. When I worked on academic papers, I immersed myself in academic reading. Now that I want to write literary non-fiction, I have been reading back issues of Eighteen Bridges and the Malahat Review.
– don’t worry that your writing will become derivative. Your personal experiences, beliefs and writing style will ensure that your writing is unique. But it is important to read the type of writing you’re interested in. That’s how you absorb the way language is used in any particular genre. For example, formal academic writing and literary non-fiction obviously have similarities, but they are very different forms. Unless you read – a lot – you will not recognize the points of departure.
– that being said, don’t restrict yourself to reading only the genre you work in. I love trash fiction, suspense, history, biography, etc. This range of reading gives me a broad perspective on many different styles of writing, and I can mix and match them to my heart’s content
– as you begin to understand the differences between good and bad writing, you’ll find it easier to recognize it in your own work. Maybe only bits of your work will be top quality at first. Don’t look at that as a negative: every improvement is amazing and you should celebrate those improvements as they come. As long as you keep working in that direction you’ll see constant changes and become a confident writer.
So, not only is reading one of the most pleasurable ways to relax that I can think of, it also makes us better writers. And, while it isn’t always easy to gain confidence – I still struggle with it every day – it does get easier.
What are some of your favourite books? Some of my favorites are “The Far Pavilions“ by M.M. Kaye, “The Walking Drum“ by Louis Lamour, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Frankly, I have way too many favorites, but that’s never a bad thing!
Please tell us what you like to read and how you use reading to improve your writing. Then, as always, feel free to click on those buttons to share this post with your friends so we can find out their book recommendations. And, if you head to the top of the page, you can sign up to get new posts in your inbox as they come out.