Monday, 13 July 2015

Confidence Crises

I’ve just finished drafting the November article for my Business of Writing column in Writing Magazine. In it, I’m exploring that crisis of confidence feeling we get at key stages of our writing projects.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing an article, short story, novel or non-fiction book, there will come a stage when the nerves kick in. What made me want to write this drivel? Why did I think I could produce something decent? What a load of rubbish! What am I going to do with this pile of …?

Many new writers I’ve spoken to often believe this is something that only affects newbies. It’s not. It affects all of us, no matter how long we’ve been writing. The trick is understanding that this is a normal part of the writing process. If you don’t believe me, check out point 9 in an article novelist Sarah Walters wrote for The Guardian, where she offers some tips about writing a novel. (

I’d also recommend a new book by Glynis Scrivens called Edit Is A Four-Letter Word - due out on 25th September. (Isn’t that a great title?) Obviously, the book tackles editing, but one thing many new (and more experienced) writers are always unsure of is how much editing should one do? When do you stop? Is editing and rewriting the same thing? Often, it’s these questions that allow the self-doubt to creep in.

Glynis interviewed several writers, from a range of writing genres, and asked them what steps they took when editing, and how they edited. What makes it interesting is, it clearly shows how the editing process can not only cause a confidence crisis, but also get you out of one. As long as you’ve written something, then the editing process can help you turn it into something to be proud of.

So the next time you have a confidence in crisis in your writing take a deep breath and tell yourself four things:

1. This happens to every writer. It’s normal.
2. It’s our creativity that exaggerates our negativity, so think positively. (And there’s a book ( to help you do that!)
3. You can get over it.
4. It proves you care about your writing.

And do check out Glynis’s book.

Good luck!


  1. Loved the Sarah Waters article. Some very helpful ideas there. And reassuring!

    1. Yes, Fran, Sarah's piece is re-assuring, isn't it? Phew!

  2. Great post, Simon. Article for November?? Now that's what I call keeping well ahead of deadline :) I loved being well ahead of deadline in my previoius job role - the only problem with that was I expected everyone else to do the same. Wishing you a lovely week.