5 Ways I Manage Self-Doubt As a Freelance Writer

Imagine that you are a freelance writer. You have just been entrusted to write about a topic you know nothing about; something you will need to research from scratch. This is called ghostwriting. It is one of the ways you can start your freelance writing career.

As a ghostwriter, you write for clients who will then post it on their site in their own name. Mostly, you will write technical content from scratch in an authoritative tone of voice. When you submit the content to your client, it will need to read as if it’s from an expert.

Let’s say you have finished writing the content and sent it to your client. Then, the client sends some feedback requesting you to make a few changes for one reason or another.

Self-doubt kicks in.

Can you really do this?

Yes, you can!

You have to because you actually want this one-time client to give you a good review and to hire you again in the future.

So, you make the small changes the client requested, and you send it back.

Then, you hope and pray that the client is happy. You hold your breath and await their response; all the while, self-doubt is niggling at the pit of your stomach.

After five long minutes, you get the message back from the client — saying they are happy with the content. You heave a sigh of relief.


You did it!

Why did you ever doubt yourself?

Here are five ways I manage self-doubt as a freelance writer.

1. Encouraging myself

I have learnt that if I do not have self-belief, I will not succeed as a writer. That its necessary to put myself out there, make mistakes in the process and learn from them.

I recently started freelance writing, and I love it. It has its ups and downs — the downs being the moments of self-doubt I have when I am about to send the completed content.

Once, my client requested some changes, and I immediately started to panic. It felt awful; self-doubt raised its ugly head. It was my first freelance writing task, so I felt the pressure to make it a success.

I opened the document she sent back and read through the feedback. Then I realised the tweaks were just minor ones. I told myself that it was okay and that I was only human, and since this was my first freelance task, I was going to make mistakes and learn from them.

I made the changes and sent it back to the client. Then, I anxiously waited for the response. Eventually, the client got back to me with positive feedback. I felt relieved.

As a writer, you will have moments of self-doubt. Unfortunately, this is just what comes with the job.

When this happens, you need to be your own champion. Speak words of encouragement to yourself. You will need to cheer yourself on. If not, you will be too scared to publish your work; to go after the big opportunities.

As a writer, you will have moments of self-doubt. Unfortunately, this is just what comes with the job.

2. Chasing big opportunities

Don’t let the self-doubt stop you from chasing big opportunities. Every time I am about to submit a pitch to a big client, I tell myself the same thing. Afterall, if I don’t send that pitch or proposal, then I won’t be considered for it.

So go on, send a pitch to that big client. Even if you don’t feel equipped to do so, take the plunge anyway. Chances are when you feel fear; you are onto something huge, maybe even life-changing. When you are scared and feel the self-doubt stopping you from progressing in your writing career, go against that feeling and do it anyway!

When you are scared and feel the self-doubt stopping you from progressing in your writing career, go against that feeling and do it anyway!

3. Honing my craft

Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers

– Ray Bradbury

In Ray Bradbury’s words, by writing every day, your writing will improve. The more you write, the better you will get.

I have been putting this into practice, and it is actually working for me. For example, I spend a few hours writing on my pieces, usually in the evening after my day job.

In addition, I read the type of content I want to write. I enjoy reading self-help books, fiction and poetry.

After reviewing Americanah by Chidinama Ngozi, I unpacked how the author used key themes to express their thoughts in fictional form. As a result, I started paying attention to the key themes and messages addressed in my stories and poems. I believe I am writing eloquently and getting key messages across to my audience. I know that because I know what good writing looks like — because I have read it.

For example, last year, when I started my blog, I was only posting something every month. As a result, I wasn’t improving my writing because I wasn’t practising as often. That is why I started to read self-help books about writing. Then, I started to put it into practice by writing every day.

One book that has positively changed how I think about my writing is ‘Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg.’ I especially loved this book because it forced me to be free to share my original ideas through my writing without being influenced by what others think about it. Through reading this book, I know that what I noticed about the world is worth writing about. No matter how simple they may seem, my thoughts matter.

4. Recording my wins

love journaling; it has kept me sane during the pandemic. I usually document the highs and lows of writing in my journal. Whenever I read a goal in my writing journey, I write it down in my journal. It helps me to feel good about myself; reminding me that I can achieve anything I put my mind to.

Recording your writing wins will encourage you on days that voice of self-doubt seems louder than ever. So, go ahead and read that glowing feedback from your client. Read the lovely comments your readers left on your blog because they liked what you had to say.

Make a record of your writing wins in your journal. Write about how it made you feel. When you are having a moment of self-doubt, go over it and remind yourself why you write. You write to make an impact and share an idea with the world; your unique perspective matters!

You write to make an impact, to share an idea with the world; your unique point of view matters!

5. Rewarding myself after a win

Last week, a client I wrote a blog post asked me to become a regular writer for her website. I now have a regular client. That is huge — and was one of my goals coming into the new year.

So, I rewarded myself by ordering some junk food and enjoying a good movie. This meant a lot to me because I had been depriving myself of junk food for so long — because of my quest to get in better shape.

Next time I reach a writing goal, I will buy something more tangible.

Key Takeaways

You will have self-doubt just before you are about to do something that will take you a step further in your writing journey.

Here are some of the ways you can combat this:

  • Read self-help books about writing.
  • Read the type of content you would like to write.
  • Chase the big opportunities, even if they scare you.
  • When you have achieved a goal — reward yourself.
  • Speak words of encouragement to yourself.
  • Record every one of your writing wins.

This was originally posted at https://medium.com/as-i-write/5-ways-i-manage-self-doubt-as-a-freelance-writer-c7f87d338422 on January 26, 2021

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