I work with a lot of newbie and aspiring writers, helping them start their own freelance writing businesses. And I could probably tell you within 5 minutes of talking to them which ones will struggle, despite being talented writers.
Here are the big giveaways:
1. Lack of Confidence
I’ve seen some pretty appalling writers go out and make money from freelancing, while talented writers flail behind, getting nowhere. And there’s one gargantuan difference between them: confidence. If you’re a confident person who’s willing to throw yourself into the game, no matter your writing ability, you will gain some traction. If you’re a shitty writer, you may not be able to get much further than the first post — but that’s still better than the talented writer who does nothing. Belief in yourself is 100% necessary to become truly successful at this.
Fear of what? Of not being good enough. Of not actually being able to make this work. Ultimately, of getting rejected. Not surprisingly, these are all symptoms of a lack of confidence. While you may get rejected from time to time, that doesn’t mean you’re not good enough or that you can’t make this work. Fuck, I’ve been rejected a bunch of times and I’m spilling over with confidence. It’s okay to feel fear. It’s not okay to let it stop you from even trying.
You know what’s not at all surprising to me any more? The fact that people who lack confidence are ALWAYS the biggest perfectionists. Hands down, always, this is the case. Why? Because they believe that turning in perfect work is the only way they can be successful. That if their work isn’t perfect, they will fail. Essentially, they’re just postponing finding out whether they can make this work. Biggest predicator of being able to make this work? Actually fucking doing something. Taking action. You know: the opposite of postponing shit. And definitely not — I repeat NOT — having your words and punctuation in the most agreeable possible sequence.
I just had a Skype call with one of my students. She’s a good writer. She’s talented enough to make this work. She asked me what she could do better. She was hoping for some writing tips. I told her that the only thing that’s going to hold her back is lack of confidence — the belief that she can’t do it.
If you see these three traits in yourself, the same goes for you too: for the love of Christ, you NEED to start believing in yourself. Maybe you need a helping hand with that. That’s okay. Maybe get somebody to critique some of your work or enlist the help of a coach or mentor. But while those things may help, they will not be enough. The final step you need to take is to TRY. To give it a shot despite your fears. What’s the worst that will happen? You’ll learn a new way you could improve. That’s all.
And now tell me — what’s the best thing that could happen?