The biggest handicap you may face, especially if you are a newbie freelance writer, is a lack of confidence. This lack of confidence can lead to writer’s block and complete shutdown.
Here are nine practical confidence building exercises to help you to overcome this handicap:
1. Develop a positive attitude.
Many people dislike writing and they’re not good at it. You’re unique because you’re a writer and you like to write. If you’re a good writer, you’ve got a valuable, marketable ability that most people don’t have. In fact, you can probably write better than many writers who are doing this right now for a living.
2. Whenever possible, say out loud to other people, “I’m a writer.”
Saying it aloud in public creates a powerful image in your mind of who you are and helps you to internalize it. Every time, you say you are a writer, you’re telling it to yourself. So it’s a really powerful confidence builder. Don’t underestimate its impact on your subconscious mind.
3. Make a comprehensive list of your abilities and strengths.
Include all experiences and skills that you can use in your writing business unique. Also include the areas that interest you and which you would like to write about. If you have a writing partner or friend, ask that person to add more items to the list. Review and update this list constantly.
4. Confront your fears
Similar to the list of your strengths, make a list of all the weaknesses that are holding you back, including your fears of rejection, failure, criticism and ridicule.
This will help you to see that most of your fears are irrational. For example, even if one of your articles does get rejected, it’s not the end of the world; you can resubmit it elsewhere.
5. Create a folder containing all your published articles and stories.
You can print them out and file them or create a separate folder on your computer. Also, file all letters, notes and email messages that praise or compliment you on your writing.
Read them whenever you are feeling down and depressed. They can reinforce your confidence in your writing abilities whenever you feel rejected and doubt your abilities.
6. Avoid negative people who constantly criticize your writing and pull you down.
If they are your editors or clients and you can’t avoid them completely, limit the time that you spend with them.
If a friend or family member is your biggest critic, don’t discuss your writing with them and give them a chance to infect you with their negativity. If they ask about your writing, just say, “It’s going great.” Then change the subject so that they don’t get a chance to ask any further questions and drag you down.
7. Celebrate your success.
Just as you celebrate significant personal events like birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and festivals, you must celebrate your writing accomplishments.
This is especially important because we tend to remember failure and negative criticism and hang onto it. So, we have to actively counteract this tendency.
One way to motivate yourself is to regularly reward yourself. Each time you complete a writing project, give yourself a treat. Incorporate rewards for even small accomplishments into your writing process. For example, treat yourself to chocolate cake or your favorite TV program after writing for an hour.
For bigger victories, treat your family to dinner at your favorite restaurant. When you celebrate your professional victories, it engraves the achievement in your memory. When you look back over your freelance writing career, you can reminisce about these magic milestones with joy and pride.
8. Be your own cheerleader and mentor.
Tell yourself that you are a talented and gifted writer every single day.
This daily positive reinforcement can make all the difference to your writing career. Don’t rely on others for encouragement. Your self-confidence as a writer has to come from within because it’s your responsibility. You have to become your own best friend and your own biggest fan.
9. Write a lot.
Don’t make the mistake that many new writers make and hang back from writing because you don’t have the confidence.
Ironically, doing the writing is what gives you the confidence.
The one and only way to break this vicious cycle of uncertainty and inaction is to keep writing.
Write for your local newspaper or your office newsletter.
Keep publishing on your blog.
Write something every single day.
It doesn’t matter what it is.
If you have a full-time job, write and finish something every week.
In the words of Carol Tice, “Be a writer, not a waiter.”
Don’t wait to gain confidence.
Don’t wait to get more time.
Don’t wait for someone else to tell you what to do.
Don’t wait for the universe to give you a flying kick.
Just keep writing because that’s the most effective way to build your self-confidence.
(30 October 2013)
Rohi Shetty is a medical doctor, Vipassana meditator, writer, editor, translator and blogger. His short stories and articles have been published online and in print. He blogs at http://rohishetty.com.