I’ve talked a fair bit about why not having enough confidence will cause you to fail as a freelance writer. But what I’ve only touched on is how having too much confidence will cause you to fail. So let’s get into that now, shall we? Here are four signs you’re too arrogant to succeed as a freelance writer:
1. Refusing to Start from the Beginning
You know (or believe) you’re a good writer, and therefore you expect good writing gigs to be handed to you on a platter. After all, you deserve them, right? People should be falling over themselves to give you good writing assignments because you’re just such hot shit! Listen, all successful freelance writers had to start at the beginning, including myself. One of my first ever clients paid me £5 per article, remember? So suck it up and put the work in. Which leads me to my next point…
2. Being Unwilling to Work Hard
Your arrogance makes you far less inclined to work hard — you’re a natural, so you don’t need to work hard, right? — yet working hard is imperative if you’re going to make this work. You believe people should just instantly understand your genius and want to hire you. Listen, I’ve been there. It’s frustrating as fuck knowing you’re a good writer but then having to explain yourself over and over again. You need to market yourself, show people why you’re the person for the job. And, just as importantly, you need to learn how to market yourself towards the right people.
3. Thinking You Know It All
One of the biggest downfalls of arrogant writers is thinking they know it all. Being able to string a beautiful sentence together doesn’t mean you can write a sentence that’ll inspire or persuade or get anyone to buy anything, all of which are important when it comes to writing for businesses. You need to spend time honing your craft. Yes, that means reading a lot and writing a lot. But it also means studying things other than writing. You’ll need to know about your client’s target customers, about persuasion, about marketing, about how to structure compelling copy, about a whole bunch of other random shit that doesn’t just pop into your head because you happen to have a way with words. Invest in your education and you’ll start to realise how much you don’t know.
4. Giving Up Too Soon
And finally, when things don’t start happening for you when they so obviously should — because OMG you deserve it so much, you fabulous writer, you — you throw in the towel. Fuck this! you cry. I’m too good for this. I deserve better.
Well, no. You don’t deserve anything. Inherent talent, if that is indeed what you have, does not guarantee success. It may mean you’re more likely to succeed, but only if you get out there and seize success by the balls. You need to go out there and claim it, not just sit back and wait for it to come to you. Because it won’t. It’ll go to one of those other talented writers out there (of whom there are many) — one of the writers who was willing to put the effort in — because writing talent is often not the main criteria clients use to decide who they’ll hire.
So sit down, have a slice of humble pie, and start working for this. Either that or acknowledge that you don’t want this enough to work hard for it.