How to be more confident in writing so that you not only share your work with a close friend … but so that you’re also prepared to apply for well-paid writing jobs?
Let me ask you:
Are you good at sharing your words with people, and asking for feedback? Is posting your stuff for everyone to see on Facebook not an issue for you?
Or do you prefer to keep your words to yourself, as though they’re some big secret?
“No one would understand my stuff. I’m too esoteric to be published.”
Look. You want to make money writing, but you’re not confident enough to apply for writing jobs.
And when you do land a paying job and hand in the work, you get nervous.
It’s already been six hours and the client hasn’t paid or given feedback.
There’s just no sign of them.
Nervous as hell, you tell them to keep their money.
“Keep it, I don’t mind starving!”
It saves them asking for a refund first, hey?
To make it as a freelance writer who has the confidence to apply for jobs, do the jobs and get paid well, there are a few things you need:
Talent can be learned. Connections (in other words, clients) can be acquired. Motivation and discipline? They’re both down to you and I’ll discuss them in a separate blog post.
But there’s one more thing you need in your toolbox if you’re to make it as a freelance writer: Confidence.
Unlike talent, confidence isn’t necessarily something that’s going to just come the more you work on something.
You think it would. After all, the better you are at something, the more confident you should be, right?
You’d think. But it often doesn’t work like this.
For many writers, confidence is a mystery. How do we get more of it? Where does it come from? Why is one writer brimming with self-confidence, while we’re crippled by a lack of it?
Writing for yourself is one thing. But writing for others is something else entirely.
You know how it goes. You’ve been working on a piece of writing for a few weeks, and you think it’s great.
You’re desperate to share it with someone. You know they’re going to love it, and you want their validation and praise.
“Can you read this for me, please?”
You hand your laptop over, and they start reading.
Then, panic sets in.
Your palms start to get sweaty.
Your heart thunders in its cage.
Five seconds in, and their expression is quizzical, perplexed.
THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO BE SMILING BY NOW.
You grab the laptop off them.
“Sorry, I’ve just remembered a typo I need to quickly correct.”
You disappear to correct the typo and are never seen again.
It’s hard watching other people read your work.
You get to see their reactions, and it’s fucking horrible.
They don’t laugh when they should.
They scratch their chins when they shouldn’t be doing that.
And they always yawn!
Imagine, then, what it’s like to have a client who is paying you $100 read your work?
For many unconfident writers, that’s just too much.
“I write for myself,” we say. “I’m an artist. If a publisher doesn’t ‘get’ my style, fuck ‘em!”
And so we keep our writing to ourselves. We might show it to a very close friend every now and then, but that’s as far as we’ll go.
Fuck applying for a freelance writing job!
A lack of confidence can really stop you from becoming a freelance writer and doing the job you really want to do.
It’s tough, and unfortunately there is no silver bullet to becoming more confident. It’s a subjective thing. Even the best freelance writers in the world have their confidence undermined now and then by obnoxious clients who never have anything good to say, friends who just don’t get their work, clients asking for refunds and so on.
I’m not going to lie. If you want get into freelance writing, it’s a school of hard knocks.
There will be doubts.
There will be setbacks.
There will be mean old clients who send you scuttling back to your cave.
But resolve is always stronger after we’ve recovered from a setback.
And once your confidence gets so strong, it becomes unbreakable.
The setbacks will be recoverable.
You will come back stronger each time.
But first of all, you need to be more confident in writing to even get started out on this freelance writer thing.
Let’s take a look at how to be more confident in writing:
Use Your References
What is a reference? A reference is something that we can use to bolster our perception or opinion of ourselves. It’s an appraisal someone has given to us regarding a certain quality.
Let’s say I think I could make it as a comedian.
But then I start to have doubts. I think to myself: “How could I make it as a comedian? I’m not funny?”
Then, a friend tells me to remember all the times people have told me I’m funny.
“Will, you’re so funny,” someone once said.
“You do make me laugh,” someone else once said.
So, as it turns out, I really am a funny guy!
These are my references that should give me enough self-belief to make a start as a comedian.
(I’m not going to become a comedian, don’t worry)
It’s like people who think they’ve unattractive. They’ve been told many times how good-looking they are, but they aren’t using these references to bolster their belief in themselves.
Instead, only their negative prejudices and perceptions count.
100 people have told them they’re pretty, but because one date ended badly, they choose to let that re-enforce their negative belief of themselves.
What I’m saying is that our perceptions of ourselves are often deluded. We don’t always know ourselves very well.
Often, we focus so much on the bad stuff and our doubts that we forget to look for the positives and the praise.
Listen to others. If you’ve been told that you’re a good writer, use these references to enforce belief in yourself.
Don’t ignore them. Don’t be all like “Oh, they were just saying that!”
Use your references. All the other successful people do. It’s how they get to be so confident a lot of the times.
Honestly, whenever I have a bad day writing, I open old emails from clients who poured praise on me. It reminds me that, dude, I actually can do this.
Is your writing dry and boring?
If so, this needs to stop.
Dry writing is boring.
Dry writing doesn’t do anything for your confidence.
Swap dry for fun, light, engaging and entertaining.
Toss a joke in there.
Trust me. Dry writing makes you feel depressed and it can undermine your confidence.
It definitely makes the reader feel depressed.
As soon as you lighten up and let loose, the words will flow, your spirit will be lifted, and you’ll feel more confident.
Of course, it’s not always so easy to lift your mood when you’re feeling pretty low.
My advice here would be to either wait until you feel better, or read some inspiring, positive content that perks you up.
I find that whenever my language is too dry, all it takes is for me to read some entertaining blog post and all of a sudden, I’m on my way.
Try it. Listen to some feel good music, too, and kick out some badass, happy content.
Read Read Read
When I say that you should read, I don’t mean you should go down to the library and pick up some Charles Dickens.
You could - in theory - read anything.
But I really recommend that you read stuff that’s related to the field of writing you want to enter.
If you want to be a copywriter, Charles Dickens won’t help you. Go read some sales letters.
And not just one or two - read a bundle.
Get a feel for the style, rhythm and word choice.
Then, read books and blogs that teach you how to be a better copywriter.
If you want to be a blogger, read blogs. In blogs, tone of voice is everything, and this is something you’ll pick up on as you read more blogs.
If you want to be a novelist, read novels!
The more you read, the more your work will become more polished, smarter and slicker.
Sure, it might resemble someone else’s. But so what? As long as it looks good, right?
I can’t stress this one enough. If you want to be a confident writer, you have to be a reader.
You have to read voraciously.
You have to read so much that all these different styles, words, cadences and phrases enter your psyche so that your own form improves. It will really help you to be more confident in writing.
How To Be More Confident In Writing - Get Feedback
Yes, this one is tough. You might be scared of getting knocked back. You might be terrified of the criticism.
Especially if you want to be a freelance writer, the last thing you want is for someone to tell you that your writing sucked.
But constructive feedback from people who know what they’re talking about will help you to build up your confidence.
I’m only the writer I am today because I got feedback from experts who helped me to polish my craft.
Before then, I was writing blind. Nobody was giving me tips. I was making the same mistakes over and over without realising it.
I had some horrendous bad habits.
I was using words like “effrontery” in a sales letter.
It’s a funny thing. At first, when someone shows you where you went wrong, you’re a bit upset.
“See? It’s further proof that I can’t do this!”
But once they show you how to do it better, you’re empowered.
All of a sudden, you know you’re not the one making that mistake. You’re now owning it. Your writing is suddenly more polished and tighter.
You compare it to how it was a week ago, and you can see the improvement.
Wow. It’s a big improvement. You feel confident. And all because someone gave you constructive feedback and showed you the way.
Start A Blog
Let’s say you want to make a living as a freelance writer, but you want to learn how to be more confident in writing, and therefore you’re not yet ready to find clients.
You’re not ready to ask a client if you can work for them. You just don’t value yourself highly enough.
However, at some point you really do need to get your work out there and get it seen.
For this reason, I recommend you start your own blog.
There’s no pressure on you. You can write about what you want and when you want.
Actually, I lie. There is some pressure.
After all, you’re accountable to all the people who are reading your blog. So you’ve gotta make it decent, right?
And you will.
Writing a blog demands time and effort from you. The more you do it, the better you’ll get.
The Comments and Likes will also go some way to validating you, encouraging you to keep going and improving.
Once you get confident enough, you can share your blog on social media.
Make sure to read other blogs, too, so that you can see how other writers are doing this. Pay attention to their style and tone of voice.
Making a blog is your first, tentative step to getting seen on the Internet. It’s not so bad because the readers are anonymous, but at least you’re putting yourself out there.
As opposed to keeping all your words to yourself like they’re some big secret ;)
These are some tips on how to be more confident in writing. Feel free to check the blog for other tips.