It’s common to talk about warming up your writing skills before you get started. Do some free writing, try an exercise from a book, make some character notes, whatever will get you into the writing frame of mind. But sitting down to write takes more than skill – it takes confidence that the words you’re writing are worthwhile, and that can be tricky to find.
I’ve recently found a solution in the form of bouldering. I took up this sport a couple of months ago, climbing at an indoor wall in Leeds. I’m not very good, but that means that every time I go I can see an improvement. Going for a climb leaves me with two feelings – emotional achievement and physical exhaustion. That first one’s such a buzz that the other one’s no problem.
This has a knock-on effect for my writing. If I’ve been climbing beforehand then I’m brimming over with pride and confidence at my achievements, however weak they might be compared with other climbers. I’m ready to take on the world. That gives me the self-belief that lets me settle down, focus and do my best writing.
Climbing has become my self-confidence warmup.
So if you’re struggling to find the confidence to sit down and write, if you’re stricken by self-doubt and that feeling that it’s not worth writing, then take some time out and do something else first. Something you’re good at, or where you can always see yourself improving. Something that will leave you feeling good. Then sit down and write straight afterwards. Maybe the emotional warmup will help you too.