8 Steps to Become a More Confident Writer

Posted By Ali Luke 30th of May 2024 Creating Content, General

Whatever you want to achieve by blogging – money, a fully-fledged business, recognition in your field, a creative outlet, or sharing your message with the world – you need to write.

There’s no way around it. Blogging is writing. Your platform, your means of communication, involves putting words onto a screen for people to read.

And that can be terrifying.

Lots of would-be bloggers get stopped in their tracks because putting their words out into the world feels so daunting. These fears are so normal … so if you’re struggling, please don’t feel alone. 

As a blogger and writer myself, with a blog, newsletter, and online community for writers, I hear from a lot of people who are held back by a lack of confidence in their writing.

Their worries might be:

  • “I might make a glaring error in my post for the whole world to see.”
  • “Readers could leave nasty comments, disagreeing with my ideas – or attacking me as a person.”
  • “My writing just isn’t good enough.”
  • “No one will want to read what I’ve got to say.”

As a writer myself, it’s heart-breaking to see how anxious some would-be bloggers feel about writing. But I can completely understand why bloggers often feel unconfident or uncomfortable.

What’s Knocked Your Writing Confidence?

Some bloggers have never really identified as “writers”, so it’s tough for them to step into that role. Others are – quite understandably – daunted by doing something new.

But in some cases, bloggers lack writing confidence because of something specific that’s happened. That could be:

  • Struggling with writing essays at school or university, perhaps receiving low grades or negative feedback from teachers.
  • People in your life being unsupportive or even mocking you about your ambitions to make money blogging.
  • Seeing other bloggers get torn down or criticised because of something they published.

You might find it helps to reflect on anything in your own experience that’s made you feel uncertain or worried about publishing your writing. 

Even if something was true of you then, is it still true now? Even if you weren’t good at one kind of writing (such as academic writing), does that really mean you can’t write well in another, very different, context (such as blogging)?

I believe we can all write well. Yes, there are things you can do to improve bad writing … but there are lots of different ways your writing can be good. If you can hold a conversation or write a coherent email, you can put words together perfectly well enough to write a blog post.

It might also help to know that even highly experienced writers often feel a lot of self-doubt. My free ebook The Courageous Writer begins with quotes from some writers who I regard as extremely successful. As I researched that ebook, I was surprised to read about how they, too, had massive struggles with a lack of confidence in their writing.

What NOT to Do If You’re Struggling to Feel Confident About Writing

I’ve seen bloggers turn to all sorts of different coping mechanisms and tools to try to get around a lack of confidence in writing. Some of these can be a “quick fix” … but I don’t believe they help you (or your blog) in the long run.

There are three really common things that bloggers do to try to get around a lack of confidence that I want you to steer clear of.

#1: Don’t Stop Blogging Altogether, Hoping You’ll Feel More Confident Later

I completely understand why some bloggers write a few posts then give up on their blog, or perhaps even fail to get to the point where they’ve launched their blog.

Maybe, if you’re not feeling confident enough yet, you hope that you’ll somehow be ready in six months or a year to launch your blog.

But unless you’re actively writing for an audience, you’re not going to suddenly start feeling confident. You’ll just make “writing” feel like a bigger, scarier, tougher activity.

#2: Don’t Use AI for All Your Content

Lots of bloggers are turning to AI tools to help with the content creation process. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that (and let’s face it, AI is definitely here to stay). But using AI to write everything for you won’t help you become any more confident … and it could seriously harm your blog.

Google wants high-quality content, and frankly, an unedited draft written by AI simply isn’t going to be good enough. I promise, you can write better than an AI, with unique insights from your own life … and with examples and quotes that aren’t “hallucinated”. 

Google also states that “Using automation—including AI—to generate content with the primary purpose of manipulating ranking in search results is a violation of our spam policies.” That means that you need to be really careful about using AI-generated content for SEO purposes (e.g. to target high-volume keywords in your niche).

If you want to, it’s fine to use AI to help you brainstorm, to create an outline for your content, or even to do some rough drafting. But you need to be confident in your own writing abilities so you can heavily edit what the AI produces.

#3: Don’t Take Endless Classes and Courses on Writing

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with signing up for a writing class or course, if that’s something you’d enjoy. I did a whole MA in Creative Writing in my early twenties, and I have no regrets.

Some bloggers (and writers more generally) get stuck at the “learning” stage, however. They want to take just one more course or join just one more class because they’re convinced that, this way, they can master all the techniques they need.

Writing isn’t something you can learn just from reading a blog, studying a book, listening to a lecture, or even turning in assignments. It’s something you do for an audience. You’ll learn how to write better, stronger blog posts by actually writing and publishing them.

Eight Practical Steps to Grow Your Writing Confidence – and Grow Your Blog

So what can you do to become a more confident writer and blogger? I’m going to take you through some practical steps to try. I’ll explain why each of these steps will help build your confidence – and I’ll give you ways to put it into practice, even if you only have a little bit of time.

Step #1: Build a Regular Writing Habit

One great foundation of feeling confident about your writing is … actually writing!

It’s hard to call yourself a writer or blogger if you’ve not written a new post for months. Get into the habit of writing regularly, and you’ll begin to feel less resistance to sitting down and putting words on the page. Just like building any other habit (like exercising, reading, or eating more veggies), the more you do it, the more natural it’ll feel.

You don’t have to write daily, though some writers find that helpful. I’d suggest aiming to write at least a couple of times per week, otherwise you’ll struggle to have a sense of momentum.

Keep track of how much you write in each session (and how long the session was). Before long, you’ll have a good idea of how long 100 words takes you.

Short On Time?

However busy you are, I bet you can find five minutes a day to write. You could use a blog post or journaling prompt, or simply write about whatever’s on your mind. Set a five minute timer and write without stopping … you might be surprised how much you get down onto the page.

Got More Time?

If you have a bit more flexibility in your schedule, how about blocking out some hour-long writing slots each week? If you find it hard to stick to your planned writing times, you might use an app like Focusmate or join a group that runs regular group writing sessions (for instance, my Writers’ Cafe has writing hours three times a week).

Step #2: Break Down the Writing Process into Separate Stages

If I told you to sit down in front of a blank screen and write a blog post on the spot, you’d likely freeze and struggle to even know where to begin. 

I’ve never come across a blogger who could simply pull up a new document, instantly pluck an idea from the ether, and start typing a flawless draft.

Blogging, like any kind of writing, involves a specific process. You might not be used to thinking of it this way, but you could break down the process of creating a blog post like this:

  • Selecting an idea for your post
  • Outlining your post
  • Drafting your post (this is what most of us think of as “writing”)
  • Editing your post
  • Publishing your post

You don’t need to do all these stages at once. In fact, I think it’s helpful to tackle each one separately – and to break it down further where possible.

In the next steps, we’ll look at specific tips for building your confidence during each part of the process.

Short On Time? 

The process might look time-consuming written out, but each step doesn’t need to take long. And the great thing about breaking it down is that you can easily use little bits of time. You might have 5 minutes to brainstorm ideas, 5 minutes to very quickly plan a post, then a 10 minute slot where you can draft the first key point – knowing that your outline will keep you on track, even if you can’t come back to your draft for a day or two.

Got More Time?

One fantastic way to use bigger blocks of time effectively (and to really boost your confidence in your ability to stay consistent with blogging) is to batch together different writing tasks. For instance, if you have two hours, you could first list a whole bunch of ideas, then you could pick from those ideas and fill out your whole content calendar for the next three months.

Step #3: Select an Idea You’re Excited to Write About

Brainstorming blog post ideas can be a great low-pressure activity if the idea of writing a whole post feels daunting. I like to come up with a whole bunch of ideas at once. At this point, I don’t self-censor my ideas: even if something sounds silly or too tricky to write, I jot it down.

Then, I go through my list and figure out which ideas might work best with my audience. This is the point where I also think about keyword research and finding the best way to frame my idea to match up with what people are searching for.

Even if you feel that it’s tricky for you to come up with ideas, you’ll find that as you begin writing them down, more ideas come to you. One not-quite-right idea could spark a new train of thought … leading to several really strong ideas. You can also use AI to brainstorm blog post ideas: this could be a great starting point and may lead you down paths you’d not considered before.

When you choose an idea to write about, choose one that you feel excited about or truly engaged with. You want to share something truly useful, heart-felt, or thought-provoking with the world.

Short on Time?

Coming up with ideas doesn’t need to take long … and in fact, you may well find that you’re more creative when time is short. Having a time constraint can push you to start throwing ideas down on the page, making connections, and developing thoughts. Set aside 10 minutes and challenge yourself to brainstorm as many ideas as you can.

Got More Time?

When you’ve got a bit longer to spend, look for twists on interesting ideas that you’ve already got. The right angle or connection could make your post much more engaging for the reader … and much easier to write. There are some great tips here for coming up with fresh takes on well-worn ideas.

Step #4: Outline Your Post to Remove Your Fear of the Blank Page

One fantastic way to make writing seem a lot less daunting is to create an outline for your post, in advance of writing it. You don’t need to spend ages on this – even a quick list of bullet points, covering the key things you want to say, is far better than only having a blank page.

Spending time planning ahead will also help you create a stronger post, with a good, solid structure. You’ll find it easier to stick to your topic or idea when writing, and you’ll know that you’ve not missed anything obvious.

AI tools can be useful at the outlining stage. I’d suggest coming up with your own outline first, before asking AI for an outline, which you can then compare to yours. This is a good opportunity to check for any ideas you might have missed and that you want to include.

Short on Time?

Come up with 3–7 main points you want to cover in your post and write them down as bullet points. This might be enough outlining for a short blog post. If you’re writing long form content, come back to your outline when you have another 5 or 10 minutes, and expand each point.

Got More Time?

Develop a set of blog post templates that you can use again and again when outlining: this can save you a whole lot of time and effort, and helps you create high-quality posts time after time. You might have a template for a “how to” post, a list post, a review post, an “A vs B” post and so on.

Step #5: Draft Your Post, One Section at a Time

When you have an outline in place, drafting won’t seem nearly so difficult. After all, you already know what you’re going to cover … it’s just a case of putting that into words.

Lots of bloggers find writing an introduction tough. One big advantage of using an outline is that you can simply skip straight to your first point. After you’ve drafted the post, it’ll be easier to create an introduction that fits well.

It’s really normal to find it hard to focus when you’re drafting. You’re likely writing at a computer, connected to wifi, with a world of distractions at your fingertips … and drafting new material is hard work, so it’s no surprise that you find yourself flicking over to social media or checking your emails instead.

I use timers in a range of different ways to help me stay focused when I’m writing. If you’re struggling to concentrate, I recommend that you pick a section of your blog post, set a 10-15 minute timer, and see if you can get that whole section drafted. Then, repeat for the next one.

Short On Time?

You don’t need a whole afternoon free to start drafting a post. Just 10 minutes is enough. Begin with your first key section, and write as much as you can in the time you have. Add a little more later, or the next day. Before you know it, you’ll have a full draft.

Got More Time?

I like to split longer drafting sessions into more manageable chunks – it’s really tough to focus on writing fresh content for an hour or more at a time. Try 20–30 minutes of writing, then take a quick break. You might want to give the Pomodoro technique a go.

Step #6: Edit Your Post to Remove Any Rough Patches

Once you’ve finished your draft, it’s time to … pause.

I don’t recommend jumping straight into editing your post. For one thing, drafting is tiring! After reaching the end of your post, the last thing you want to do is more work. Plus, you’ll find it easier to spot mistakes and things you want to change when you come back to your post with fresh eyes.

So take a break. If you can, let your post “rest” for a day or two before you come back to edit it. Then, it’s a good idea to split editing into its two separate components:

  • Rewriting: Look for any big-picture changes you want to make with your post. Perhaps one of your points didn’t quite flow, or you want to move around some material. (If you had a really detailed outline, you may find you don’t need to make any major changes … that’s fine too.) You might also need to expand your blog post if it came out a little short.
  • Editing: Read through your post carefully, line by line, looking out for any grammatical mistakes, typos, or clunky-sounding sentences. Proofreading your own work can be surprisingly tricky, and this is another place where AI can be helpful – I use Grammarly to double-check my posts (but make sure you read it all with your own eyes too). 

Editing is where your writing gets the chance to really shine. If you’ve ever marvelled at the amazing way an author uses words – their clever turn of phrase or their ability to draw you in without a single misstep or clunky sentence – then keep in mind that their first draft may have looked quite different.

You don’t have to do anything fancy with your writing, of course. A straightforward, conversational style is best for most blogs. If you’re struggling to know how to phrase something, imagine writing an email to a reader (or a friend who’s interested in your niche) and simply write it like that.

Short On Time?

Read through your whole post and only fix anything that’s objectively wrong (like a misspelling). Don’t worry about perfecting every sentence. You can always come back and update your posts in the future, if you want to add more details or expand on a particular point.

Got More Time?

If you can, get someone else involved at this stage of the process (see Step 8). Ask for their insights and suggestions about your post, and take this feedback on board during your editing. You don’t need to adopt everything they suggest, but you may find that they have a useful perspective or fresh insights to offer.

Step #7: Publish Your Post and Get Used to Putting Your Words Out There

The final stage of the writing process is publishing your post. (If you’ve written a piece for someone else’s blog, like a guest post, then this step is sending it off to the editor.)

When you’re not feeling confident, hitting the “publish” button can feel really scary! You might find it helps to have a pre-publication checklist, to remind you to do things like:

  • Double-check all links within the post are working
  • Include your featured image at the start of the post
  • Set the category for your post
  • Add important SEO (search engine optimization) elements like a meta title and description (I use Ryan Robinson’s SEO checklist to help me stay on track, which he goes through at the 12:00 mark in his video here).

With your checklist to hand, you don’t need to worry about missing something important or accidentally publishing a post that’s not quite finished.

Short On Time?

When you feel pressed for time, you might end up holding off publishing your post altogether. I’d encourage you to get it out there – even if you wanted a bit longer. Some parts of the publishing process (like tweaking your post for SEO purposes) could easily be done at a later stage. 

Got More Time?

Add marketing elements to your publishing process. For instance, you might share your blog post with a custom-written message on social media (more effective than just sharing the title and link), or you may want to email out the link to a couple of blogging friends who you think would be particularly interested.

Step #8: Ask for Feedback on Your Draft Posts

I won’t pretend this step is easy, because I know it can be really daunting to ask people to tell you what they think of your blog post. But direct, specific feedback on your writing from other writers and bloggers is one of the very best ways to improve.

Do you have a friend who enjoys writing (or who’s a good fit for your target audience) and who could look over a draft post for you?

Maybe you belong to a blogging group on Facebook or a local network of bloggers? Or perhaps you’re part of a writers’ group of some kind? Within my Writers’ Cafe, we have members sharing blog posts in our dedicated “Feedback” space for helpful comments and suggestions.

Wherever you turn for feedback, you might like to let people know what sort of feedback would be most useful to you. For instance, you might ask one or more of these questions:

  • Could you let me know if you felt lost or bored at any point during the post?
  • Did the structure work or did the post seem confusing?
  • Were there any typos or mistakes in the post?
  • Is there anything you feel I should add to make the post even better?

If possible, it’s lovely to return the favour! When someone gives you feedback, ask if they’d like you to review one of their posts in return. 

Getting feedback can help you recognise your own strengths as a writer. Perhaps you’ll hear that you’ve explained a complicated concept really clearly, or that someone laughed out loud at the anecdote you told about your travels. 

You can then lean into these strengths with future posts. Maybe you want to have a whole series of posts where you break down complicated ideas in your niche and make them accessible to beginners. Or perhaps you’ll weave in more travel anecdotes to give readers a sense of your personality.

Short On Time?

If you’re struggling to find time to look for bloggers or writers who can help you, put out a quick appeal to your social media followers or email list. Hopefully, someone will be keen to get an exclusive first look at your next post!

Got More Time?

You might want to find a few bloggers at a similar stage as you, in niches with some overlap, so you can all offer feedback on one another’s posts. If several people are giving feedback on one draft, an easy way to handle this is using Google Docs, where multiple people can comment on (or make suggestions on) the same version of your post.

 

It can be really tough to feel confident as a blogger. What matters isn’t that you feel totally fearless (I doubt any blogger does!) … but that you keep moving forward.

 Step by step, build up your courage and confidence so you can keep publishing new content, keep stretching yourself (e.g. by submitting guest posts), and keep reaching new readers. That way, you’ll make a true impact on the world.

If you’d like some more encouragement and ideas, check out my free mini-ebook The Courageous Writer: How to Grow in Confidence and Nurture Your Creativity. It’s packed with ideas for all kinds of writers and includes lots of simple, practical exercises to help you gradually become more confident and creative.

 

Bio: Ali Luke has been blogging since 2008, and has written for ProBlogger, Copyblogger, Smart Blogger, The Write Life, and more. She blogs about making the most of your writing time on her own site, Aliventures. You can download her new mini-ebook The Courageous Writer: How to Grow in Confidence and Nurture Your Creativity for free: it’s full of ways to become more confident in your blogging (or any kind of writing).

About Ali Luke
Ali Luke blogs about the art, craft and business of writing at Aliventures. She has two free ebooks on blogging, Ten Powerful Ways to Make Your Blog Posts Stronger and Ten Easy Ways to Attract Readers to Your Blog … And Keep Them There: to get your copies of those, just sign up for her weekly e-newsletter (also free!) here.
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