Are You Too Confident About Your Writing?

cc_confident_woman_Have you ever noticed how some writers are totally confident about their abilities as writers, while others struggle every day with whether or not they’re good enough to make it?

If you’re anything like me, you worry. You worry you’ll never be good enough, and that you’re wasting your time.

Part of me wishes I could sit down at my computer each day and tell myself, “You rock. You’re the best. You ARE good enough.” Thing is, I don’t believe that kind of attitude is necessarily helpful. In fact, I believe it can be downright harmful.

Here’s why:

When we get cocky, we fall flat on our faces.

Some reasons why being overly confident can be detrimental are:

You might be deluded about your abilities

Several months ago, literary agent Nathan Bransford posted a thought-provoking article on the Dunning-Kruger effect.

He says:

The basic theory is that when people are incompetent at something they tend to lack the ability to realize it and they overrate their abilities relative to others. Meanwhile, people who actually are good at something tend to underrate their abilities and may as a result suffer from lack of confidence.

If you’re completely confident about your writing abilities, consider that you might be kidding yourself. Even the best writers have room for improvement.

You’ll overlook your writing flaws

If your writing is perfect already, you have nothing to do but sit back, relax, and wait for that publishing house to snap up your manuscript. Right?

Fellow writers might give you feedback on how to make your work better, but you’ll be unlikely to make any necessary changes if you’re totally assured it’s at its best. That means your writing doesn’t improve.

In the end, you’re only doing yourself and your writing a disservice.

You’ll be less motivated to study the craft of writing

Sure, you might hear about the overnight success of writers like Stephenie Meyer or J.K. Rowling, but I assure you a great deal of study goes into any writer’s career. A few authors are lucky enough to discover the magic bestseller formula on the first try, but to repeat that success takes time, practice, and study.

Save yourself a lot of heartache by recognizing the importance of learning about the craft of writing early on.

cc_hand_writing_bookOthers won’t want to work with you

Even if you’re as talented and polished as you think, most writers, agents and editors won’t be keen on working with you if you’re not open to suggestions for improvement.

No one enjoys having their writing ripped apart, but using constructive criticism as an opportunity to improve your work automatically makes you a better writer.

Of course, if you alienate others by letting them know you don’t value their opinions, you won’t get a whole lot of meaningful feedback.

Are You Too Confident?

I think most writers are like me: we’re cautiously optimistic about having what it takes to get published, but we realize the long, uphill battle we still have ahead.

Still, when we get too close to our work, it’s sometimes tempting to think our writing is perfect. Taking some time away from your writing is one of the best ways to help you see those flaws you missed the first time around.

So, are you deluding yourself about your abilities as a writer?

Photos courtesy of soei_cs_82 and alexanderward12

Suzannah Windsor Freeman writes and teaches in Canada and Australia (but never at the same time). Pop over to Write It Sideways for more great writing tips, or follow her on Twitter.


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