Ask a writer of any kind about their struggles. You are most likely to get one of two answers: lack of creative confidence and procrastination. As a professional SEO web content writer, I’ve learned how to make that little voice inside our heads ‘sit down and be humble’.
So, if you are someone who wants to do the same or you are just interested in what the messy kitchen of the creative process looks like, this article is for you.
Let’s Get Personal
Or a bit about my experience of tackling the issue
As someone who’s struggled a lot with building creative confidence, I’m going to tell you two things:
- It’s your own personal battle and it’s all taking place in your head.
- There are no rules on how to go about it.
Now that we’ve established these, I’d like to share some tips based on my experience and hopefully, you will be able to relate and get something out of it that will prove valuable to you. What’s important to remember is that writers everywhere experience self-doubt at some point. You will be no exception.
The tips below are actually valid for any type of creative work.
Tip #1: Ask for Feedback
You need a fresh perspective
I know, this one sounds scary and counter-intuitive, if you already feel insecure about your abilities. “I don’t want them to crush my efforts with mean words or criticism”, I hear you say. Sometimes, even the bravest and most confident of us get intimidated by feedback.
But the interesting thing I found about it, is that it actually strengthens your ability to explain why you took a certain creative direction instead of another. Your relationship with the content you’ve created becomes a bit stronger too.
It also has the power to get you out of your own head.
We tend to be the harshest judges of our work. So, get a second opinion. Start by giving your creative work to other content writers in the industry you are writing about. Be proactive and honest from the start, ask them what can be improved. You don’t have to act on their advice, but it’s so valuable to receive it.
Tip #2: Remember, It’s All Just An Opinion
Holla at your haters
Ceci n’est pas une pipe. In 1929, Rene Magritte presented his painting, also known as the Treachery of Images. It’s a picture of a wood pipe that comes with the subtitle “this is not a pipe”. It’s a depiction of one, true, but it’s in the way Magritte saw the object for what it is. Therefore, his version of it. The whole idea behind this image is that everything is just a version of the truth.
No matter how much criticism you’ve received because of your style, lack of sufficient knowledge on a subject, or any other area of your writing that can be judged, it’s important to remember it was just one individual point of view.
You can accept it, learn from it, ignore it, but never let it stop you from creating.
Tip #3: Read and Write More
Silence the inner critic
Actually, the idea about writing this article came from reading about the daily routines of different artists who were all prolific and renowned for their contributions. The article featured this quote by Vincent Van Gogh:
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
What a beautiful way to put it! That’s a lesson in perseverance. That’s the universal truth – confidence comes with doing, just like appetite comes with eating.
Here’s the article if you want to read it yourself.
What I also believe is that in order to produce great content web writers should read a ton of it first. Not just for the purpose of studying the competition but also because, in the works of others, you will find what resonates with you. You see what works and what techniques you might want to adopt.
One reason why I love reading the old, analog way (you know, actual books with paper pages) is that I always leave little notes next to the pieces of writing I like. I later study them and I try to find what is it exactly that intrigues me.
It’s not about emulating the style of someone else, it’s about finding your own voice amidst all the noise.
The Impostor Syndrome
The evil father of your insecurities
I’d like to conclude with something I refer to whenever I have my low moments. Namely, this video of The School of Life where Alain de Botton covers why we sometimes fall into the trap of self-doubt and how to free ourselves from it.
Keep in mind that others go through the same predicament of not feeling good enough. It’s what unites us as humans, but it could be quite destructive to our creative endeavors. Letting that fear dictate our choices is a shame.
I’d like to link another video dealing with the issue of feeling like an impostor. I find it very inspirational as it reminds me that even incredibly successful people, just like Mike Cannon-Brookes, experience it. He puts it in a very witty and down-to-earth way too, saying basically something that’s a universal truth, yet we forget about it:
We are all in this together.
But, let’s talk about you now! How do you combat self-doubt as a writer? Share with me what works for you and what doesn’t in the comment section. Who knows, it might help someone who’s struggling just like you were once.