How to Make a Good Confession (1)
Yes, there are a number of books out there about this subject. I do not intend to keep you from them (read as much as is helpful to your salvation -- of course!). I do want to give everyone a few pointers regarding the Sacrament of Confession. Not because I think everyone is doing it wrong, but just to give a helpful refresher course. This is for new converts and those who have been through Lent a number of times already.
First, let us discuss your attitude about Confession. I only ever met one Catholic who would honestly say "I like going to confession" and it was not for the proper reason (!). We all struggle with the idea of telling someone else about our worst behavior; it is hard to admit we failed. The one thing, the most important thing, that we all need to keep in our minds about Confession (before, during and after) is that it is an absolutely necessary grace, without which it is impossible to find eternal life (apart from the special grace of God -- and no one can bank on that!).
Remember that the Sacrament of Confession is a wonderful gift of God no matter how goofy the priest who hears your confession behaves. Yes, some priests make mistakes in the confessional, and some even break the rules (often in the name of "being pastoral"). God's grace is not dependent on how well we do what we are called to do (thank God!). Assuming, of course, that the priest actually gives the proper absolution, the Sacrament is valid.
[The waitress may be rude, inconsiderate, an inattentive beast, who has chewing gum in her mouth, smells bad, and belches while speaking, but if the food is excellent, then the food is excellent! And, furthermore, you have no right to complain if you refuse to go to Confession (which is a grave sin that can keep you out of Heaven!) because you got a bur under your saddle and are unwilling to forgive the scoundrel who put it there.]
On that note, if a priest continually breaks the rules of the Sacrament (look them up if you do not know them, or ask another priest that you trust), then you need to find another place to go to confession. Do not lean on the idea that "it will be OK because God knows my heart". If God knows your heart, then He also knows whether you can find a priest who will be sure to give you the grace God wants you to have!
So then, what should be in your mind when you go to Confession? We should be thinking: "God, this is me speaking to you, and the priest is there to help me do it with fairness and justice. God, even if the priest messes stuff up, please help me to get the grace I need. God, thank You for making it possible for me to overcome these sins that keep me away from You; please glorify Yourself in my life."