The Most Overlooked Qualities of Good Writers

Ryan Porter

Photo by Christian Sterk on Unsplash

Have confidence in yourself and you’ll open doors that were previously locked

It’s Saturday.

You wake up to the sound of birds outside your window. It’s a mellow, warm morning. You feel the weight of the yellow sun on you in bed. It’s time to get up and have a productive day. You want to write a few blog posts to get ahead for the week.

You pop in a Nespresso pod. You can feel the funnel of coffee pour into your mug. Everything is right in the world. Your headphones are on, and you’re sitting at your desk. The keys are at your fingertips.

You close your eyes, and pray that you can think of something to write today. You haven’t posted a story in two weeks. You’re running out of time. You can’t be the next great writer if you don’t finish two full stories by the end of the day.

The morning shatters. The caffeine makes your blood curdle. You are a nervous wreck, and now you’ve walked away from the computer.

Let’s break down what happened. You woke up feeling great, but then you sat down to write and the words didn’t come out. It happens to the best of us. Every great writer has these days.

If this happens to you often, then it can be debilitating. What do you do when you can’t think of the words to say?

If you look at any good writer, they all have one trait in common. These writers all have the ability to tell a story and leave a reader with something to take home with them.

Whether they’re a blogger on Medium or famous for their prose, they all have this one, often neglected quality: confidence.

Confidence is key

You can’t teach confidence. It’s a killer instinct that’s overlooked. A confident writer sits at his or her desk knowing that the words will come.

They don’t have to think about things too far ahead of time. When they want to write, they write. There isn’t much thinking that goes into it.

“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.” — Peter T. McIntyre

How does one become confident? You can’t go out and buy it. You can’t get a degree in confidence.

Like other successful people, confident writers have adapted methods of self-care. Their confidence is a byproduct of their efforts. These are the traits of confident writers:

  • They don’t stop writing
  • They maintain mental health
  • They maintain physical health
  • They read more than you
  • They anticipate rejection
  • They are patient with themselves

Combine all these traits, and you get yourself a confident author. They practice these fundamentals everyday.

They don’t stop writing

First, when the words won’t come out, it’s important to take a step back. If you can’t think of anything to write, you might be trying to write about the wrong subject.

Early in his career, Stephen King failed time after time. But, he kept writing. He had faith in himself. Then, he sold the paperback rights to Carrie for $400,000.

King literally changed his life, and what did he do? He kept writing. He kept doing what he had always done. He built his consistency up over time, and now he’s one of the most famous authors of all time.

You’re not going to be Steven King. You don’t need that kind of pressure. Don’t try too hard. Put on some music, find your flow state, and type whatever comes to your mind.

Here’s what I do. I attempt to reach a flow state every single time I sit down to write. I’ve learned that I don’t write effectively if I think too hard about it. This means that I type away, and I don’t look back. I will edit my spelling, grammar, and logical errors later. For now, I’m at peak performance, and I am creating the truest sentences I can think of.

I set 20-minute timers to tell myself that I don’t have to write all day, yet, I often go over the time. When I’m in a flow, I don’t stop writing when the bell rings. I complete the thoughts in my head and put them on paper.

I edit later, and I don’t think about whether my story will be curated or not. I’m not worried about missing the shots I haven’t taken yet.

Even if I fail, I keep going. I learn from my mistakes and I write the next piece.

I have confidence in myself to complete stories in a timely fashion. Thus, I consider myself a confident writer. Now that I know I am confident, I can go into any session and knock out at least 20 minutes of writing before I’m burned out.

They maintain mental and physical health

My little fitness hobby has turned into one of my own strongest traits. Physical fitness makes it easier to be mentally fit which, in turn, allows you to be more confident.

Let me explain. Physical exercise releases endorphins. Simply put, Endorphins are molecules produced by glands in our brain that make us feel good. So, in the most basic way I can explain this: exercise makes us feel good.

Exercise and feeling good might sound like an oxymoron, but it’s true. In the moment, it might be painful to run two miles. Your leg muscles cramp, your heart pounds through your chest, and your head aches from dehydration. How does it feel after the run though? Have you ever felt the “runner’s high?” Those are endorphins working their magic.

Look good, write good. To circle back, physical health has an immense affect on our confidence as writers. Physical exercise improves our appearance. In turn, our mental state picks up.

Imagine waking up, eating breakfast, and knocking out a workout first thing in the morning. Congratulations, you’ve already accomplished something today. Keep the train rolling and get that blog post written. Accomplishing something else productive sets the tone for the rest of the day. Now you’ll have the confidence to do other things that are supposed to be hard, like write your blog.

Confident writers read

Most of us work day jobs, so there is not always time to read. Besides, how does one go to work, exercise, cook dinner for the family, attempt to write blogs, and have time to read? It’s difficult to do, but it’s essential.

Reading is the most basic and fundamental aspect of becoming a better writer. Books are free insight to the authors who wrote them. They use intricate language and words you’ve never even heard of. They tell stories with detailed plots and interesting characters.

Who else would you want to learn from than from the authors of these books? You need to read more. You need to find the time. Wake up earlier if you have to. Read for 10 minutes a day, because anything is better than nothing.

Not only that, but seeing that these authors can write hundreds of pages of content is motivating. It shows you that it is possible to make it as a writer, and to come up with content.

They expect their stories to be rejected

We’ve all failed. I wouldn’t believe you if you couldn’t think of one instance where you messed up. The best writers are confident because they learned from their failures.

My stories have been rejected by publications a dozen times. I used to get upset about it, but now I take the rejection as free education.

Why did I fail?

I have the opportunity to look at my work, and refine it. It’s never the end either. This piece I wrote for The Startup was initially rejected. I made some changes, and they ran it. It’s not about your failure, but how you bounce back from it.

Writers are patient

Finally, patience is key. I’m constantly trying to rush my work. I think I need 25 stories a month to reach people. If I thought like that, I’d burn myself out and quit writing all-together. That just isn’t the way. What would I gain from rushing my work? Probably just a bunch of unnecessary stress and guilt.

Take your time and don’t create too many goals around your writing. It’s easy to look at other writers and grow jealous of their ability to post two stories a day. If you’re not there yet, then don’t worry. You have all the time in the world.

Take baby steps, and gradually get better. As long as you are writing, you are taking steps in the right direction. Similar to what I said about the amount of time you read a day: 10 minutes of writing is better than zero.

The grand takeaway

Don’t panic when the words don’t come. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t expect to have the biggest blog on the internet just yet. Step back and remind yourself why you write. Remember, you’re supposed to like doing it, otherwise, why are you writing?

To become a more confident writer, you can’t take one quality of a good author and expect the words to flow. Confidence is a package deal. You can’t be confident just because you are patient.

Confident writers are who they are because they maintain a healthy body and mind. They also read as much as they can, and they are susceptible to rejection. Above all that, they don’t stop writing.

No matter how tough the circumstances, the author writes because they are bound by the pen.

Though I’m spouting off about confidence, you won’t learn anything from me. You have to become a confident writer on your own. Experience is the greatest teacher. You can’t buy it. It’s worth more than a college degree.

Go now and write your blog post. Pop in some headphones, put the snacks away, and get to work. The ability is there, but you have to trust the process. Let the words flow, and don’t think about the outcome.

Just write.

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I write about startup culture, productivity, and life's moments. My goal is to serve as a teacher for the next generation of content creators.

Los Angeles, CA

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