People regularly assume their writing skills are “good enough” to get by on. But data shows that’s far from the truth: companies spend more than $3.1 billion on remedial writing training every year. Yikes.
The reality is: Having a strong foundation of writing skills is essential to building a profitable career as a freelance writer. But, even so–many people pursuing this path don’t feel proficient in their writing abilities (much like the people hobbling by on limited writing expertise at in-house jobs.)
Writing-focused training gets pushed down the to-do list month after month. It’s easy to think: “Why spend time on my craft when I can be pitching, prospecting, and doing client work?”
The answer, my friends, is that by taking the time to improve your writing skills you will be more successful.
It’s as simple as that.
The bottom line here: If you feel insecure about your writing skills, you’re not alone. Whether you actively worry about your grip on the basics, suffer from imposter syndrome while doing work for your clients, or just want to make an effort to improve your skills, there are many ways to do so.
What to do if you worry your writing isn’t “good enough”
Imagine this: you sit down to write a piece for a client only to find yourself entirely overwhelmed by the thought that your writing isn’t good.
- Almost every sentence you type, you immediately delete.
- The cursor blinks at you for an eternity (and it feels like a taunt.)
- It takes you twice as long to write the article as it should.
When you finally knock the piece out, the end result feels off…but you can’t pinpoint exactly what’s wrong.
Far from a rare occurrence, this is a situation that plagues countless writers around the world. It’s an anxious, emotionally fraught space to exist in, and it can become a self-perpetuating cycle if it’s not broken. Worse yet: This perpetual state of worry is only the beginning of the insecurity a writer might feel about his or her skills.
“This isn’t on the mark for our brand, please re-work,” is one of the most dreaded and self-confidence-shattering responses for a writer to get.
If you get pieces back from clients that are full of edit requests, it can feel like confirmation of this insecurity, and thus the self-perpetuation of the belief that your writing is bad. It’s also not great for business; the extra time you spend fixing that piece will eat into your earnings from it. Beyond that, if the client wasn’t happy, they probably won’t re-hire you for future projects.
The looming sense of dread that proceeds sitting down to write anything once you start to doubt your work is exhausting and mentally taxing.
But it doesn’t have to be a permanent state.
5 ways to break free from the writing insecurity complex
There are a few things you can do to break free from the thought: “I’m not a great writer.”
- Join a community of writers. Because writers often find themselves alone with their computers day in and day out, finding a supportive group to be part of can help stave off the insecurity that accompanies such an isolated job. A community like The Den is an example of this–a space to find both encouragement and to get access to peer feedback.
- Examine where those internalized doubts might stem from. Writing is quite personal, and by default so is feedback on your writing. It’s natural to take it personally when you get critiques on your writing, but sometimes the doubt stems from a deeper place. Becoming more self-aware through therapy, journaling, etc. is a way to navigate those deep-set doubts about your abilities.
- Establish a daily writing practice. Practice, practice, practice. It’s a cliche because it’s true: the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Implementing a daily writing habit is the key to becoming a better writer. By writing daily you’ll refine your communication skills and exercise the mental muscles you want to strengthen. With time, writing will begin to feel more natural and less stressful.
- Get professional feedback. While not always possible, when you can, ask an editor for the specifics of why they changed your draft. Getting this feedback from those who have interacted directly with your writing and have more experience than you is an invaluable way to improve future work. A patient editor is a Godsend.
- Enroll in a writing training course. The place where professional feedback is guaranteed is within a writing workshop or training course. Not only do these kinds of courses build confidence and skills, but they also give you access to advice from professionals who have been where you are and are actively trying to help you improve. The best news? Sometimes these courses are happening right now, like the four-week online writing boot camp I’m teaching called How to Write Better: A Copywriting Improvement Workshop.
Beginning October 2nd through the week of October 28th, this is the perfect way to get a refresher on the basic mechanics of writing well, to learn how to write click-worthy headlines, to get tips on how to craft high-quality, click-inducing pieces. We’ll offer feedback on homework and have live Q&A time, writing templates, and an abundance of advice to share.
Everything you need in a writing improvement workshop with a no-risk guarantee of satisfaction.
Get curious and get feedback
From personal experience, I can attest to the fact that there is no worse feeling than opening a draft you’ve already sent to a client only to see it littered with red comments and edit requests. Eight years and lots of feedback later, I’ve built the writing confidence and skills necessary for that to be a very rare occurrence, but it took a lot of effort and dedication to get to that point.
The bottom line: the more time you dedicate to learning about your craft, the more you will improve. The more you improve, the more clients will seek you out, and the easier it will be to make a living of it.
So get curious. Get feedback. Become a better, more confident writer.
Kaleigh Moore has been a full-time freelance writer for eight years, creating content for companies like Stripe, Shopify, AT&T, and others on the Fortune 500. She also contributes to publications like Forbes, Vogue Business, Adweek, and Inc.