Whether it’s inferiority complex or a lack of confidence, dealing with insecurity as a freelance writer is no joke. If you’re battling insecurity right now the good news is this is normal. It’s a part of the writing life. Here are a few strategies I’ve learned for combating the internal turmoil and moving ahead in my career.
Dealing with Insecurity as a Freelance Writer
I trained as a print journalist and even after I had my bachelor’s degree I hesitated to call myself a writer. While I don’t know the exact reasons why I was so insecure I do know there was a few things at play.
- My class had some fabulous journalists/writers and I often compared myself to them
- I didn’t get a journalism job right out of university and felt like I needed to
- Other writers and journalists I knew seemed to know what they wanted from their life and careers and I felt directionless and confused
It took the better part of two years after I finished university to admit (to myself) that I wanted to be a professional writer. I had been laid off from my most recent job (in the geology field, obviously) and was mind mapping what I wanted to do with my life. In the most shocking of ways I realized I wanted to write for a living. But I felt so afraid. What if I put myself out there again and nobody hired me? What if I wasn’t really a good writer?
Dealing with insecurity is important because you won’t move forward if you don’t
Before I could even apply for writing jobs I had to admit to myself this is what I wanted, deep down. I also promised myself I would stop applying for jobs that weren’t a good fit. Yes, I knew at some point in the unemployment stretch I may have to take something, anything, but I didn’t have to start there. I had a runway. So try.
This was a huge moment in my life and career because it was the day I stopped letting my feelings of insecurity and inferiority stop holding me back from going after what I wanted to accomplish. It wasn’t the actual achieving of my hopes and dreams—it was admitting what I wanted. Yes, I still dealt with mind-numbing fear of failure and risk aversion. And of course I made mistakes and fell down along the way. But I figured out what I wanted and then put on my brave-pants and started trying rather than phoning it in.
Here are three ways to overcoming a lack of confidence
- Don’t compare yourself to others
- Put yourself out there even when you don’t feel ready
- Join a positive, encouraging writing group
Something I’ve learned in my years as a professional writer is everyone is on their own journey. Yes, when I speak with a SUPER successful writer I feel intimidated and less than. For sure. But I don’t stay there. The more writers I meet the more I realize they’re all insecure. Our battles may be about different things but we all have them.
The quickest path to self-defeat is looking at other writers and comparing yourself to them. Don’t. Stop comparing. No two careers look the same and we can’t allow ourselves to get derailed every time we see someone else having success.
If we stick to our comfort zone then we won’t grow. If you have goals for your writing or freelance career then you have to keep punching above your weight. That’s the saying, right? What I mean is you have to keep putting yourself out there and going after those big, dream contracts/clients/gigs/stories even if you think you’re not 100 per cent the most qualified, best writer out there. At least try.
Something to keep in mind when you’re pushing past your comfort zone is you may (and probably will) face rejection. It’s a part of the freelance life. Embrace rejection as a normal thing and don’t take it personally (btw I talk more about this on an interview for Good Company). You may also get negative feedback or even criticism. Again, it happens. Find ways to move past it and even learn from it.
The best thing I ever did for my career was join a writing group. And before you ask, yes I was nervous about being outed as an imposter. But my desire to find other freelance writers was bigger than my insecurity and I started networking with other writers. At first I held back from sharing my true fears and struggles but as I got to know the writers I also began trusting them with my problems. I asked questions, even if I thought they might be stupid. I asked for advice when I didn’t know what to do. And I started bringing client situations up in group discussions to see if they had a better approach I could use.
When dealing with insecurity and inferiority complex it’s easy to view other writers as competition or as a threat. But that’s looking at the freelance writing world with a scarcity mindset. The truth is, there’s enough work for everyone. Every writer has his or her own unique strengths and niche. In all likelihood, you won’t even be interested in the same type of writing work or clients. Be open to connecting with other writers and freelancers and when you find good people you can trust, hold on to them.
One of the biggest comparison traps we find ourselves in is on social media. This is not something to be afraid of but definitely something to be aware of. It can be so easy to see someone’s social feed and end up feeling horrible about yourself and your accomplishments. When you notice yourself going down this road hit the pause button and find a way to reset. If you’re stuck, these suggestions from The Graceful Olive are a great place to start.
Remember this about social media: it’s a highlight reel curated to present an intentional brand or persona. If you find yourself feeling insecure by a certain feed then for your own mental heath’s sake unfollow that person. Don’t think of it as a personal slight, just accept that at this point in time it’s better if you don’t see their feed while you work on your own self-confidence.
A writing friend has a folder where she saves any positive feedback she receives. Any time she is dealing with insecurity or battling inferiority she goes back to the “praise folder” and re-reads the nice things people have said about her. It helps her put things into perspective and often can re-direct her negative feelings. It’s an excellent strategy.
One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.
This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.