The ups and downs of writing confidence
Confidence comes from repetition - but beware hazardous zigzagging
Last week I delivered a workshop on how to build writing confidence to a packed room. I mean, who doesn’t want to be more confident in their writing? I opened it with a quote from designer, writer and podcaster Debbie Millman, who said:
“Confidence is the successful repetition of any endeavour.”
Confidence comes from repetition
We rarely start our creative endeavours writing brimming with confidence. Instead, it’s the result of having written.
Confidence builds with repetition, from taking small steps, from getting a hit of dopamine when we successfully complete those steps, which in turn makes us feel good about our writing and more likely to write again.
However, the relationship between repetition and confidence is not as simple as it seems. Esteemed author and writing tutor Cathy Rentzenbrink warns us not to be taken in by it. She explains:
“It is a seductive myth that if we start writing on day one, then we will gradually get better and more confident as time goes on. In my experience this is simply not true because writing is a tug of war between desire and fear, and therefore feels much more like a hazardous zigzagging.”
Zigzagging through the creative process
I love this concept of writing as ‘zigzagging’. As we write we experience highs and lows. We take steps backwards and forwards. The very nature of the creative process is uncertain which makes it hard to keep going. In fact, this ‘disfluency’ makes it likely that many of us will quit prematurely on our projects.
Keep going is easy to say, but hard in practice. No one knows this more than Cathy Rentzenbrink which is why we’re speaking to her tonight about writing myths, confidence and how she gets the writing done. There are still a few tickets left for this free online conversation - sign up on Eventbrite: Written Conversations with Cathy Rentzenbrink.
Cathy Rentzenbrink is an acclaimed memoirist whose non-fiction books include The Last Act of Love, How to Feel Better, Dear Reader and Write It All Down - a friendly and down to earth guide to writing a memoir. Her first novel Everyone is Still Alive was described by Elizabeth Day as “A novel of radical empathy and kindness” which pretty much sums up Cathy’s approach to supporting writers. Cathy regularly chairs literary events, interviews authors, runs creative writing courses and speaks and writes on life, death, love, and literature.
Packed full of practical takeaways and inspiring stories, this conversation will explore:
Writing confidence, how to overcome early doubts and fears to begin putting words on the page
What rules she was told about writing and what she believed it meant to be a writer
How Cathy manages the hazardous zigzagging in her own writing practice
Her approach to supporting other writers, why kindness is important and why wasabi peas are the secret ingredient for bestselling authors.
This is an online, live conversation on Wednesday 15 March 2023 at 6pm GMT / 7pm CET / 1pm EST / 10am PCT. Once registered Zoom details will be sent before the event via Eventbrite. If you are unable to attend we can share a recording in the days afterwards.
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Thought-provoking, guys! I've signed up for tonight's event although I won't be able to make it, I look forward to the recording. Hope it goes well x