As a English profession, we have traumatized students with our red ink!!! In efforts to point out ways to help students improve as writers, we have communicated, "You are wrong," "Stop writing," and "You have a lot more to do to meet our standards." As a result, many students lose confidence in writing over time and think, "I'm just not a good writer!"
For today's writing tip, I want to restore you faith in your ability to write by offering a different perspective on professor feedback, editor feedback, grant review feedback and other types of writing feedback you receive: view it as part of the writing process. Those of us trained in writing do something that most people who are NOT trained in writing don't do: we do not submit the first thing we write. Instead, we write drafts that progressively get better.
You can and should view feedback as professional critique that will help your writing when you study and learn from it. Feedback is part of your training to get better. Yes, you may need to improve flow, argument, grammar, word choice or any number of issues. That is fine because writing is a skill that requires effort and time to master. Even people who like to write and have a natural gift with words have to learn grammar, language mechanics and writing techniques, continually!
With a PhD in English, I continue to grow as a writer as I develop my thinking, critiquing and ability to look back over my writing to see where to improve. With time, I understand how to express myself better, I build my vocabulary and I become more strategic with sentence structure. So, I welcome critiques that point out my writing "blind spots" and other shortcomings. I remain open to getting better each year, regardless of what I think I know.
How can you gain confidence in your writing abilities?
As a writing coaching, editor and consultant who has helped countless people with their writing, I first encourage you to dismiss negative thoughts that you're just not a good writer because you can become better. Then, I encourage you to take time to study the feedback you receive, solicit more critique, ask questions and request meetings. I encourage you to commit to doing the work to learn the craft of writing! Great writing results from great training in writing, so find the right trainer for you!
Cultivating writers...one tip at a time!
Dr. Vernetta Mosley (Dr. V)
Writing Coach, Editor, Consultant
Author of I'm Not a Writer, I am Just in Graduate School