Do you ever get the feeling that your writing is fake? That you are swinging from the trees and you really do not know what you are doing with this writing career you’ve decided to pursue? In this blog, we talk about how to avoid feeling like a failure with your writing.
Believe it or not, this is a normal feeling. Not just among writers, but it appears to affect people who want to accomplish something amazing. Suffering from self-doubt, they wonder what the heck they are doing here.
Whether it is writing a book or blog, preparing a speech, or building a business, at one point most people feel that they are imposters – living someone else’s life, someone else’s dream.
This is called the Imposter’s Syndrome.
A nasty creature that sneaks up you in your worst days. It tells you you are not good enough and may as well give it up. “What do you think you are doing, wanting to write a book (or a blog, or build a website)?”
Our worst enemy, the internal critic stops us from doing many things, and makes us doubt who we are. It eats up our motivation and sense of accomplishment. If not dealt with, it causes dreams to be put on hold – or cancelled completely.
Writing is writing, whatever the format, and there are certain tasks a writer can do to become successful.
Building a strong foundation of writing practices keeps you through the tough spots.
Structure your life as a writer. When you are living and working the part, and surrounding yourself with writing supplies, affirmations, and great ideas to write about, when that voice of self-doubt creeps in, you will be grounded in your aspirations.
14 tips for writing that will help you to avoid feeling like a failure.
- Establish a writing space. You must have a place to write. If you go to Starbucks to write, then take all your writing supplies with you. If you have a place at home, make it your writing space and nothing else. Be sure your family understands this is where you go to write, it is not a repository for getting office supplies, or pens and pencils – the things in your office (your space) are yours and yours alone.
- Assemble your writing tools. This is why you must have a space to write. If you leave your home to write, like the library or a coffee shop, then bring with you all your reference materials and any other supplies you need to write. You want to have things handy so you do not have to search for them and interrupt your concentration.
- Break your project into small parts. If you are writing a book, you cannot sit down and write it all at once. You must take it a bit at a time. The same is true when writing a blog. Do not expect to write a blog and publish it that same day. Breaking your day into small parts is good way to write if you are limited on time. If you cannot write for an hour, set aside 20 or 30 minutes. Many people set word count or chapter count as their daily goal. If you have problems with this goal, start small. Give yourself time to get into the groove so you can get some productive writing done, though. It takes about 10 or 15 minutes to settle into writing, so give yourself enough time to get into the flow and enjoy what you are doing.
- What is your big idea? Whether a book or blog, you have an idea to put across. Be clear on what it is and stay as specific to that topic as possible. With both books and blogs, you must have a central theme that is easy for your reader to pick up on.
- Develop an outline. This will help you organize your big idea. Many people think and write as they go, writing by the seat of their pants (pantsers). But even experienced pansters have some idea of where they are headed. Outlining a blog is easy. Put in your headings before you start, and write to those headings. A book has chapters, which serves very well as an outline. Outlines, no matter how sketchy, are important to keep you on track, and this early preparatory step makes writing much easier.
- Set a firm writing schedule. Set aside a time every day to write. Make writing your priority, put a “do not disturb” sign on your door if you must. Train your family to leave you alone. Turn off your phone. Do not check your emails. This is your writing time, protect it fiercely and use it wisely.
- Do your research. A large part of writing is researching your topic. Fiction writers rarely write off the top of their heads. The story is interwoven with facts, past or present. Nonfiction writers show their expertise by their research. Every blog should be researched thoroughly. Be sure to budget time into your writing schedule for this very important step.
- Reader First. Always think “reader first.” You are writing for your reader, will they like what you have to say? Authors spend a lot of time rereading their work, making sure everything is just so. If you get bored after two or three times of reading your blog, you can be sure your reader will be bored the first time through. Write compelling openers, keep them guessing, and deliver what you promised at the end. Keep your readers excited and interested and they will come back for more.
- Readers love conflict and tension. How do you do this in a blog where you are selling something? How do you create tension when you are informing your reader about a process? Ask questions, lead them on, make them think. Resolve their conflict by finally telling them the reason you are selling or informing.
- Turn off your internal editor. Do not expect your first draft to be perfect. Try not to spend your creative juices criticizing your work. This is where that imposter comes into play. – second guessing what you are writing. You first draft is a mess, you cannot say what you mean, and look at all those corrections! This is good. Let the writing spirit overcome you and get your words on paper. Many times, I write the first draft and delete it. Sometimes I delete the second draft, too. By this time, I have gotten all my thoughts out, my frustrations and fears that the reader doesn’t want to hear about, and now I can calmly and intelligently write what I have to say. Ignore that first draft, and for sure do not stress about it.
- The Marathon of the Middle. Author Jerry Jenkins says this is the tripping point – half-way between the beginning and the end. This is where the imposter syndrome seriously kicks in. You have your big idea, you have your outline, you did your research and you are thinking about your reader first. “Oh, no,” your reader says, “you cannot possibly write a book or blog that interests me!” No this is not your reader saying these horrible things to you. It is your internal critique, the one that takes you out of the race half-way through. Do not give in to this loathsome creature.
- Write an ending that grabs. Just like the beginning hook, you need an ending grab. Readers love emotions. They love to laugh, to feel pleasure over buying something they desire. Appeal to their emotions. Readers want to be moved. What grabs your readers?
- Self-edit as though your life depends on it (which it does). Most people today do not send their books to a traditional publisher since self-publishing has become so easy. Many of us only have me, myself, and I to edit and correct. There are self-editing programs that check both grammar and spelling. I like Grammarly. The free version is all you need. Check, check and double check your work for duplicate words, missing words, proper punctuation and capitalization. You are showing your writing to the world. You want them to see nothing less than the best.
- Let your writing cook. By cooking, I mean let it sit, simmer and stew. Just like a fine wine, the longer it sits, the better it is. Put at least twenty-four hours between writing and publishing. Sleep on what you wrote and let your mind work it through. You will come up with better ideas the next day.
It is always a good idea to let anything sit for a day. What if you published something you wished you hadn’t? Too late to take it back now!
If you incorporate these fourteen steps into your writing routine, you will find self doubt and lack of confidence will not be such a problem for you. You have to charge on through those periods of negative thinking. You know how you are, you know what you have to say. Believe the world is interested in hearing about your big idea.
Who knows, it might be your idea that sets the world on fire! How could you miss an opportunity like that!?