November 2021 -->

Walden University Writing Center

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

How to Find and Keep Your Confidence as an Academic Writer


How does confidence impact writing and the motivation to write? What adds to our confidence when it comes to writing, and what diminishes it? How can a writer maintain, develop, or rebuild confidence in their writing skills?

dog on a surfboard riding a wave

I've been pondering these questions lately. In fact, I decided to do a bit of research into the topic to find out what the literature says about confidence and academic writing. As a writing instructor, I want to make sure I'm doing all I can to help boost the confidence of the students I work with--in addition to teaching about things like structure, synthesis, flow, and formatting.

To begin with a definition (because it's probably best to know what the thing is before we discus how to increase it!), Merriam-Webster (n.d.) described confidence as "a feeling of or consciousness of one's power" and "faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way." In other words, confidence is trusting that we are capable of accomplishing a goal we've chosen to pursue or a task we've been assigned. Confidence is feeling good about our ability to be who we want to be and do what we want to do. 

person leaping

When I shared my findings with the rest of the writing instructor team, one of my colleagues pointed out that Walden students are often brimming with confidence. After all, you need to be confident in your ability to accomplish your goals if you're going to take on a whole new degree program on top of the demands of work and home. Nevertheless, even the most self-assured among us have probably experienced a blow to our confidence now and then--and the demands of academic, APA-style writing have been known to discourage otherwise optimistic students.

Reciving a disappointing grade, or criticical feedback that doesn't seem helpful understandably brings us down, especially if our confidence when it comes to writing is already shaky. Also, if we feel we're alone in the writing process, or like we don't know enough about academic writing as a genre to be able to do it well, we definitely won't be enjoying the good feelings confidence brings. 

But there is hope. (We definitely wouldn't publish this post if we didn't think so!) When it comes to academic writing and APA style, the Walden WritingCenter’s website offers a number of resources to help students learn more about the expectations involved. We also strongly encourage you to reach out to your professors to clarify what is required of you for any assignments that seem confusing or unclear, or to discuss any feedback they provide. Finally, forming meaningful relationships with your fellow students--for instance, creating spaces where you can vent to, commiserate with, and encourage each other--can help keep those feelings of loneliness at bay.

group of people helping eachother climb stairs

These are just a few strategies that have been helpful for students who want to build and/or maintain confidence when it comes to academic writing--regardless of level or program. What are some strategies you've found helpful? We would love to hear from you and for you to share your wisdom with your fellow Walden students!


Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Confidence. In dictionary

Grete Howland
 is a writing instructor who's been with the Walden Writing Center since 2019. Before joining the Writing Center, Grete taught English and creative writing to middle and high school students. When she's not working with words, Grete loves paddle boarding, running, wine tasting, and hanging out at home with her husband and dog.

Send me new posts by e-mail! button
Never miss a new post; Opt-out at any time


Post a Comment