Are you confident in your writing skills? Most writers will honestly answer that question with a resounding, “no.” Writing is a humbling experience that never fails to leave you feeling frustrated and elated at the same time. Whether you’ve never submitted your work anywhere, or you’ve sold thousands, all writers essentially face the same struggle. The difference between those who persevere and those who give up is what I call “Creative confidence.”

What is Creative Confidence?

Creative confidence is courage in the face of fear. For writers and all artists there are many fears. You might fear judgment from others. You might fear that the right words just won’t come to you or that your plot or characters suck. You might fear not finishing your book or if you’re like me then you actually fear the completion of a manuscript. Creative confidence means you’re willing to take the risks. You have the willingness to…

Explore – Can you step outside of your writing comfort zone and try new things? Do you practice writing characters that annoy, terrify, and confuse you? Do you write from different points of view and in a variety of genres? Do you try changing your writing voice or style? Are you willing to explore your characters and plot more deeply? Someone who is confident isn’t afraid to try new things. In fact, they embrace it because it’s fun, interesting, and sometimes it feels like a herculean challenge.

Make Mistakes – With exploration and a willingness to try new things comes the inevitable mistakes. Are you willing to make mistakes with your writing practice? Are you willing to accept that the book you write today will not be as good as the book you write next year and that’s okay? Do you accept that making mistakes is part of the creative process? It’s how you learn more about yourself and it’s how you grow as a writer.

Be Judged – Here’s a biggie that stops many writers, sometimes it stops them permanently. Are you willing to put your work in front of others knowing full well that they may hate it? Does it matter to you what other people think and if so, how much does it matter? Are you able to take criticism and use what’s useful to you and set aside the rest?

Learn – Presumably, you’re not the best writer ever. I’m not sure who is, but it’s probably not you and it’s definitely not me. Are you willing to learn more to become a better writer? People who have creative confidence are interested in learning more about the craft.

Practice – Are you willing to work on your writing and practice? It doesn’t matter if you’re working on your manuscript every day, if you’re journaling, writing poetry or blog posts for your author website. Write every day. Practice and a daily exercise in creativity are part of the definition of creative confidence.

A writer who possesses creative confidence is someone who embraces writing as part of who they are. It’s a passion, a hobby, a lifestyle, and a career. Sometimes we let this side of ourselves take a back seat to life. When you allow this, and I’ve committed the same crime, you deny part of your essential self. You let the world dictate who you are and what you’re capable of instead of owning your desire to write and expressing it daily.

The good news is that creative confidence can be cultivated. You can build your confidence. The first step is realizing it’s part of who you are. You are a writer. Now write.