Starting with confidence

Starting any piece of writing - a blog post, an essay, a speech, a report - is often the hardest part.  A trick you can use to get the ideas flowing is to dig around in the meaning of the words you’re going to be writing about.  This never fails to generate a different perspective or an alternative word or two - and often that’s all you need to get you started.

There are a number of on-line tools that you can help you here.  The
Webster’s on-line dictionary is a great free resource providing definitions, synonyms, opposites and examples of how a word is used –
right down to famous quotes or appearances in literature, movies and songs.  My favourite just now though is the Visual Thesaurus which works – as you might have guessed – visually. It’s an “interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates word maps that blossom with meanings and branch to related words” (what a lovely spring-time metaphor) and it’s a great way to explore connections and related meaning.

Let’s look at an example of the way this can work.  This piece is about starting with confidence.  A word that has strong connotations, negative and positive, for writers.  What are they thinking about when they read, or write, the word “confidence”?

Rooting around under the word tree of “confidence” starts to open up the different connotations of the word.   Some might say that it was freedom from doubt, a belief in your self and your own abilities.  Or a feeling of trust, in someone or something (or in yourself?)  It’s freedom from anxiety or fear.  It’s a state of confident hopefulness that events will be favourable.  (I do love that one: a state of confident hopefulness.)  And confidence, of course, is linked to being confident.  Having confidence restored.  Freed from anxiety.  Marked by assurance.

I could go on (one of the dangers of a thesaurus!) but this quick sketch should be enough to show you how many levels of meaning there are behind a blanket word like “confidence”.

And I don’t know which of these is closest to the confidence you want to have in your writing.  If you want to write with authority, or sureness, or steadiness.

Or how it is that you want to be when you write.  If it is sure-footed: not liable to stumble or fall.  Or self-assured: showing poise and confidence in your own worth

Or if you are happy just to have a new tip for brainstorming the start…

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