6 Self-Confidence Tips for Writers

Nobody is Going to Hand you Freelance Writing Success
by Carol Tice

Do you think you deserve a good writing income? As I browse the writing chat forums, it seems as if many writers don’t think they’re entitled to a decent living from their work.

In short, they’ve got a self-confidence problem.

For instance, this week on About Freelance Writing, Sarah Elisabeth wrote:


The other hang up is how do I know if my writing level is up to a $1 a word? I’m a newbie with a few published credits but lack the confidence that I would qualify to write on that high paying level.

I know that feeling of unqualification well. Since I got into writing prose sort of by accident from songwriting, I walked around with that anxiety for years.

I kept expecting somebody to tap me on the shoulder and say in some kind of snobby-waiter voice, “Excuuuse me, but we’ve noticed you’re not really a freelance writer. You’ll have to leave now.”

Never happened. Writers like to bitch about the economy, the collapse of print publications, the editors who don’t respond to their queries…but they don’t like to face the core truth of their career. All that’s really stopping you from earning $1 a word is you.

If you have self-confidence that you’re a strong writer, you become an unstoppable force. You keep going until you make top dollar.

I recently analyzed my marketing strategies here on WM. I described a success I had calling publications that post full-time job ads and asking if they use freelancers. I found a new, $1-a-word market that way.

“I tried that once and it didn’t work,” one commenter said.

“Oh,” I replied. “I tried that 30 or 40 times, until it worked once.”

What’s the difference in these two marketing approaches? The difference is self-confidence. If you don’t feel self-confident about your writing, what can you do to build yourself up? Here are my tips:

  1. Morning affirmation. My dad taught me to look in the mirror every morning, smile, and say, “Damn, I’m good!” If your dad didn’t, you can start now.
  2. Get a perspective. Are you worried about what people will think of your writing? Back when I was a songwriter I used to get bad stage fright. I’d snap out of it by reminding myself that no matter how my gig went, one billion Chinese could care less. Keep a perspective on the relative importance of any screwup you might make.
  3. Learn more. Often, writers lack self-confidence because deep down, they realize there’s something they don’t know. And they’re trying to fake it without that knowledge. It could be how to write in blog format, or how to get really great quotes from sources, or how to write strong query letters. If you sense your nervousness stems from a knowledge gap, fill it.
  4. Ask: Why not me? I think many writers think “Why me? Why should little old me get to earn six figures from writing?” That’s the wrong question. Why not you? Haven’t you read tons of mediocre novels and how-to books? You’re better than that. You deserve that success, too.
  5. Create a gratitude list. Insecure people tend to dwell on their failings. Instead, dwell on your strengths. Make a list of everything that’s great about you — all the unique assets you have to offer the world. Review as needed to appreciate how special you are.
  6. Look at previous clips. When I was fairly new to writing and had a big, feature story due, I’d always be really nervous. So I’d take out my clip book and look over past articles I had published. I never failed to be uplifted by this. Wow, I wrote all that? Guess I can write this one, too. (Reading your clips online works, too.)
What do you do to build your self-confidence as a writer? Leave a comment and let us know.

This post originally appeared on the WM Freelance Writer’s Connection.

Photo via Flickr user SqueakyMarmot