Butterfly Writer
22
Aug

How to gain confidence in writing

If you’re looking to gain confidence in writing it may be that you’ve been looking in the wrong place. Sure, you can read up on literary techniques such as metaphor and simile which will of course help you to show the reader what you’re describing to them, and yes, you can set your point out in neat paragraphs that are easy to follow with one point leading onto the next. But this is only half the story. In fact, even if you do all these things, as well as include perfect sentence structure and edgy grammar that really drives your points home – all of these together will just be a neat structure for a lot of bland content. Because it’s not the structure that is the over-riding measure of great writing – it’s the story it holds.

The secret to gain confidence in your writing is having the courage to say what you really want to say. It’s the ‘what you really want to say’ that carries the bigger message. The technique and structure that bounds it is literally just the framework that carries that message in the way you want to unpack and deliver it. Essentially, this can be learnt from any textbook. As for the heart that tells the story – well… that’s something entirely different. Because writing with heart takes courage, and this is something that you have to dive deep for if you want the confidence that what you share is of value.

And this is it. The true meaning behind writing with confidence is writing something that someone else will value.

Pages you may be interested in:

Transformative Writing

Personal Growth – Tracking the Magic

Want to Write a Book? Follow Your Dream

The Morals of Your Characters

So what does courage in writing look like and how does this transfer into confidence in writing? Okay, here’s the thing. Diving deep to find this value is not always pretty. It’s not always tidy, and it’s definitely not always neatly packaged and packed within a tidy container. But what really is unless you’re buying a ready made sandwich from Tesco? And even then… the filling is smudging against the clear plastic, only preventing it from spreading to your fingers whilst it’s still tightly wrapped, unopened. Once you open it … Well, you know the rest.

Courage in any form can be messy. You could be raising your voice to say what everyone is thinking, or going against the pack and standing alone in your bid to just get something off your chest. In that moment where your voice feels different from everyone else’s, and your words are making everyone twist a little in dis-comfort, whether for you or for themselves, this is when courage stands out a mile. And for many, this is when it’s hardest to stay true to the voice within. Because what comes immediately after speaking your truth is a reaction to what you said. And in this moment, you’ve opened yourself up to be vulnerable. And it can either feel liberating or it can feel like shit. No one wants to be the odd one out. No one wants to be that person in the crowd that is saying something different or feeling something that they think no one else is feeling. But that’s just it. How do you know people aren’t feeling what you feel or thinking what you think? Just because they’re not saying it, doesn’t mean they’re not thinking or feeling it and wishing that someone would be brave for them.

Admittedly, it might not be the whole crowd who is desperately hoping for something new or someone brave enough to say ‘this is me, does anyone else feel this way?’. But for those who do really want it – these are the ones you’re speaking for, and in the case of writing confidence aka value – this is where you find it.

Writing confidence is about knowing your inner truth – and I don’t mean the surface layer stuff that everyone can already see. I mean the deep stuff that most people keep concealed through fear of rejection. On a personal level, we have this way of telling ourselves that we’re the only ones. We could be experiencing a personal struggle with family, we might be refusing to see the cracks in a relationship, or tired of the constant passive aggressive BS at work. When this struggle remains in our heads, our inner need for belonging and fear of the unknown takes over. And this becomes a prison for many. Too scared to make a move because they don’t know what’s around the corner – or worse still – they do know an element of what’s around the corner and they fear isolation and more rejection.

We have this innate ability to believe the negative stories that we tell ourselves because they’re easier to believe. It’s really difficult to have faith and believe in the good that will come our way. And this aligns with what our current situation might be dictating to us. Acknowledging vulnerability is also activating courage. Value sits between these two like a golden nugget nestles within the earth.

If a partner has spent years belittling you, it’s going to be truly hard work to push through all those stories that have been built up over the years to believe that you’re more than those incorrect perceptions of you. If a boss has been passing you over for promotion again and again, it’s going to take courage to stand up and fight for what you deserve. If a family or friend has views that don’t align with your views, and your decisions have been influenced by this for a time, then suddenly deciding to speak out is going to leave you vulnerable. But acknowledging that something needs to change is the first chink in the value chain. It’s recognising all the moments that went before the wake up. It’s acknowledging all the times you accepted a certain behaviour toward you. And it’s saying to yourself ‘It’s okay. I’m not the only one who’s experienced this. And now I want something different.’ This is where the vulnerability and shame kick in most – and this is where most of the value that you could write will sit. It might surprise you that the most value doesn’t sit at the end of the chain with the positive outcome. But what’s the use of going straight to the positive outcome and ignoring the most crucial vulnerable moments that your readers can see themselves in right at that moment? This is exactly what they need to read so that they can see themselves. And when they can see themselves in the vulnerable moments, they can become inspired, and that inspiration can lead to action.

Think of all the people in this world that are experiencing vulnerabilities right now. Think of all the times they are compromised because they don’t have the courage or support to know that they can make a change for the better. This is where writing confidence is fuelled by the connecting vulnerabilities.

Butterfly Writer

Acknowledging an issue (whatever that may be) is connecting to a desire, a passion, a dream for something new. Acknowledging a vulnerability is actually creating awareness of something that can be changed, and strengthened. It doesn’t mean that relationships need to be severed. It doesn’t mean that everything that went before this very moment will change for the worse if it’s spoken about. What it does mean is that an awareness is being cast out for others to catch, to read, to relate to. This means that in those moments when we’re in our heads with seemingly no where to go we suddenly, quite beautifully, don’t feel so alone.

Vulnerability is actually the key to writing confidence and adding value. For all the examples I’ve given, these are only a pinch of what vulnerability can look like. So, if none of these hit your radar then sit for a moment, or a day, or a week or even a month and consider what you really want to say. What is the message you want to share? What is going to make you feel uneasy to write. The more vulnerable you feel – the more you dig deeper to see where it goes.

I remember writing an article in my twenties about the relationships between girls and boys (or men and women). This article was my first glimpse into revealing something quite raw and personal to someone other than myself. And this was something of an aha moment for me.

I’d had a bad breakup in my teens, in fact I’d had a few. The thing is that I never really could let go. I know now that letting go is actually really difficult to do for many, many adults. So for a teenager who needed a lot more than she was getting – letting go opened the door to whole lot of shame. But actually, rather than allowing things to fall where they were meant to and holding my head up high, I held on tighter and let the shame flood in instead – for all to see.

You can jump of the raft into the water but it’s really hard to swim away not knowing if there’s another boat in reach to cling on to. Let me sweep back for a moment and remind you that this was me as a teen. As a teen I didn’t know what I know now. As a teen, I just saw the relationships between guys and girls as one sided – at least for me. Of course, there always seemed to be ‘those girls’ who deserved more. Who deserved the hot guy to love them back. I was always looking for that ‘someone’ who had everything but I never really knew what ‘everything’ looked like. ‘Everything’ for me at this time in my life was to be a part of something. So, as you can imagine, or maybe as you’ve experienced, everything became anything that ‘someone’ had to offer.  Then that ‘everything’, for a while, became the ‘everything’ I needed. This is when things go from bad to worse. Because the ‘everything’ I found never came close to fulfilling my needs – yet when it came to end, I just couldn’t let go.

I didn’t know what ‘everything’ looking like back then. And how could I when I’d really just began to live my life. So the ‘someone’ that gave me a piece of him shaped my idea of ‘everything’. That shape got punctured, inflated, changed size over and over again. Always with me feeling more deflated and less worthy. Obviously, there were times when it didn’t feel right, the chemistry wasn’t there and so I’d eject. But when I wanted to stay, I felt that I was afraid to give the full version of me just in case I was rejected.

But the truth is – when you don’t give the full version of you – you fail before you begin. How can anyone fully invest in you if you’re never willing to fully invest in yourself? The thing about being a teenager is that you can never know the full version of yourself. You’re still growing, evolving and taking shape. And the reason why it feels good to write this is because over the years, through many discussions with friends and associates, through observations of other girls I knew and the way they went about in finding a partner, I realised that it wasn’t just me – and it wasn’t just teenagers. It was everyone, young and old.

I bet there are a ton of people out there, beyond their teens, their twenties, their thirties and some may be well into their forties and beyond who are still figuring out who they are, what they want and how best to get it. We’re constantly evolving, and perhaps the only thing we ever really need to know is just that – we evolve. Every influence shapes us a little, and every loss influences our next choice. Whether to hold on, let go or simply do nothing for a while so that we can take stock of everything that happened.

As part of my teen evolution, I wondered why so many girls like me (with obvious low self-esteem) actually allowed themselves to feel so much pain for so long. Why draw it out when we have the control to put a stop to it. This particular article (mentioned earlier) drew comparison between the seemingly universal idea that girls gave a lot of power to men, and the relationship between the female spider and her mate. Of course, we know what happens to the spider once she’s taken what she wants. And this is nature. The female spider dominates the male. She allows him to do what she needs, and then she eats him. This is what I learned later in my life. And in this moment, I realised something.

I realised that it wasn’t natural to be dominated by a guy. I became aware that the natural relationship that I’d carved out and shaped for myself was warped. All thanks to the natural mating ritual of the arachnid. Yet, this was all my own creation. And this comes back down to low self-esteem and my idea of my worth toward the opposite sex. I guess you could say, like many have experienced before me and many will after me, I wasn’t what you called a good looking girl – and so – a little shame bore into me wanting something that good looking girls received. A boyfriend. A boyfriend that everyone admired.

For me, this was an incredibly vulnerable topic to write about. I was literally, as I am now, showing others what I thought of myself, what I thought I deserved and that I didn’t hold out to discover who I was before diving in to find the ‘everything’ that I was looking for within a person. Because ‘someone’ can never fulfil that checklist of ‘everything’ when you have no idea what is on the list. In fact, at such a young age, I was at the precipice of discovering, piece by piece, what felt right and what felt wrong. Throw in a whole load of particular circumstances personal to me, and you’ll find a reason for every decision I ever made. And they all came from trying to find something that I could belong to. And with regard to the person that finally checks everything on the list (and what an extensive list that has grown to be) … Well, this takes a very special person only made visible to you once you know what that everything is. This is when wisdom kicks in and I can reflect on all of my moments of reflection where I have added and taken away from my list of ‘everything’.

To write this now, from a place of hindsight, awareness, wisdom and a strong connection to who I am, and all those experiences that shaped me is liberating. Yes, there’s an edge of vulnerability but there isn’t an ounce of fear that runs through me sharing this because the essence of what I have shared is my truth – and I know it to be many of my readers’.  Acknowledging that truth, albeit from a distance, with hindsight and wisdom now on my side, I can reach back for that teenage version of me and wish that I could pull her close and tell her exactly what she was capable of, and that regardless of the mistakes she’s going to make, that everything is going to turn out well.

In fact, I can honestly say, that when ‘teenage me’ looked at the bigger picture – this is something she always knew deep down. And perhaps this is why I can write this and feel liberated in doing so.

When you write about a deeply personal passion, challenge, love, desire, struggle or whatever it is that gnaws away at you, you are opening up a channel to shout out, to reach out, to connect and to acknowledge that the path in front of you, the one that looks a little dark and full of shadows, is actually not as bad as you might believe. Because on the other end of that path, when you’ve written that last line, when you’ve concluded and presented your truth as well as the supportive nature of the wisdom that it’s afforded you, you’ll be greeted by those who resonated with what you wrote; your vulnerability, and above all your courage for showing your truth. As I was when I showed that first article to a friend. Something so personal to me turned out to be incredibly personal to her too. So much so, that she asked, in all earnest, if what I’d written was about her.

Truth, honesty, compassion for yourself and others, trust that you’ll be met, and faith in your authentic self is exactly what you need to connect with, in order for your writing confidence to rise from zero to hero.

Yes, structure technique is important – but truth and honesty even more so. Connect with you, connect with your writing voice, connect with the vulnerability that fuelled your choices again and again, and you’ll connect with value to your audience. And when value floods into your writing, and the reader reads their story but in your words, they won’t be looking for how you’ve written it. They’ll be so lost in seeing themselves in your words – they won’t see anything else. And they’ll feel more than you can imagine. If you want to deliver confidence in your writing then you have to read Butterfly Writer!

My latest book talks a lot about what it takes to be a confident writer. You can download a copy from Sept 1st 2022, or you can pre-order right now.

Respectfully your guide,

Cheryl x