9 Ways Writers (Or Anyone) Can Quit Getting Down On Themselves

in Way Off The Subject, Or Not

If my email is any indication, lots and lots of freelance writers suffer one way or another from what I would call poor self-worth.

I suppose it’s not surprising. I suspect writers face more rejection than the average professional salesperson.

And it doesn’t do a whole lot of good to be told rejection isn’t personal. After all, we’ve poured our soul, more of less, into our submission and when it’s kicked back, usually with no encouragement at all, it feels personal, even though we know, at least in theory, that it isn’t.

Obviously getting down on yourself because your writing career isn’t’ going well at the moment is less than productive. So how do you improve your view of yourself? These nine tips may help:

Make a list of all you’ve done. One of my personal signs that I’m getting down on myself is when I hear my self-talk turn to themes around “you haven’t done enough.” The truth for me, and I’ll bet for you too, is that I’ve done a ton. I just need to remind myself and making a list of what I’ve accomplished helps turn my head around.


Find one way that the world is a better place just becasue you’re in it. Rev. Guy Williams taught me this one. We all do things that make the world a better place, even if it’s a simple as making the bed. Often it’s much more than that – I have a friend who regularly gives sandwiches directly to the homeless. Another quietly works to help children, both in the U.S. and Africa. Another makes it a point to smile at all babies no matter how he’s feeling. You get the idea. What do you do? When I remember how I make a contribution I feel better about myself. BTW, it won’t hurt if you find three things and do this as a daily practice whenever you need a lift. 

Write a gratitude list. Not original with me, nor with Oprah either, but darn it those lists work. When I remember to be grateful for things like my cat, my family, my phone and my internet connection life looks better.

Get out in nature and notice how beautiful it is. I’m lucky that I live on a canyon full of trees, birds and all sorts of life. Even so, when I’m down I have to remember to at least look out the window and enjoy it. There’s something very healing about the natural world.

Reach out and help someone else. When I get out of myself and help someone else I always feel better. It doesn’t have to be elaborate – answering a question in a forum or by email, smiling at that baby, letting a car make a turn in front of you without getting angry, volunteering somewhere… any and all of these will tend to move you toward a more positive view of yourself.


Make something pretty in your office. Adding a bouquet of flowers, putting up a poster or picture of something that makes you happy in your work area can lift your mood. So can just rearranging stuff for more efficiency and getting rid of clutter.

Make amends. Do you owe someone an apology? Make amends, even if they were also wrong. Apologize for your part. I find if I don’t do this pretty promptly it drags on me and saying ‘I’m sorry’ frees up tremendous energy.

Say thank you to someone. Noticing that someone has treated you well and saying ‘thank you’ improves both their mood and yours.  Cathy Miller has an article called Who Knew Customer Service Was Another DIY Task? In comments we discovered that both of us make it a point to complement a good CS rep to their supervisor when we get good service. And I’ve decided to tweet about that too.

Tell someone you love them. We’ve all got people in our lives we love, but sometimes remembering to tell them we do gets lost in the business of life. Take a moment and tell them. When we stop long enough to notice who we love and who loves us, we begin to remember we can also love ourselves.

How do you stop getting down on yourself?

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth West April 30, 2012 at 11:56 am

This is a very hard thing for me. When things go wrong in my life, they tend to do so ALL AT ONCE: ex. lose a job, then lose everything else, can’t concentrate, have accidents, things start breaking, etc. etc.

Sometimes all you can do is just hang on and remember that life is change. And when things start to change, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It would be nice if you could make other people realize that, though. Sometimes their attitude is part of the problem.
Elizabeth West recently posted..Yucky and YouMy Profile

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annew May 1, 2012 at 9:05 am

Someone once suggested that instead of saying ‘this too shall pass’ I make it ‘this to is passing.’ Seems to help – I’m writing an article on expectations… of others for powerfullyrecovered.com… it should be up today or tomorrow.

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Lisa Cunningham April 18, 2012 at 9:43 am

Anne, you are spot on with these suggestions. My faith in God also sustains me, particularly the Golden Rule. When I get outside of my pity pool and look around, I see people who have had it much worse. Empathy helps me deal with the pain of rejection.

Not to mention that writers must develop a thick skin or die. When I mentor writers, I can always tell the difference between a talented person and the lazy writers by their persistence. Remember what Churchill said: “Never surrender!”

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annew April 18, 2012 at 10:13 am

chuckling over the quote, Lisa… thanks.

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Paula Z April 17, 2012 at 9:52 am

Thanks for sharing! I love this because it reminds us to put things in perspective. :D
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Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing April 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Ha! Just this weekend I told my kids we need to start making gratitude lists again. I started this habit when I was waiting to adopt, to keep from going insane. It’s really useful to anyone, any time you’re having trouble looking on the bright side.
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annew April 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Thanks Carol… a gratitude list seems to both ground me and make me optimistic.

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HP van Duuren April 14, 2012 at 6:07 am

Yes Anna,

Making a list of all you have done can be
very motivating and that’s exactly what I did some time ago in my
‘What Happened in 2011′ Post.

I also like to think that posts on my blog can be helpful and Facilitating for readers. Like for example as you can see in the blogpost titles here below starting with Your Blog As a – Platform – To Work From, than clicking
on The Arrow at the right side to see The Full List,
with posts about, for example:

Things like: Laptop Lifestyle, Productivity and
about How to Write Fillers, Greeting Cards or Book Reviews etc. etc.
Also when you see the numbers of Comments on Blogposts (or even better also - Replies - on the Comments from other readers) it can be very Motivating and Inspiring to keep on writing - Crispy Fresh - New Posts.
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Carrie Schmeck April 13, 2012 at 7:43 am

Well timed. Thanks Anne.
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annew April 13, 2012 at 8:25 am

Amazing how that happens.

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Clara Freeman April 13, 2012 at 7:05 am

Thank you Anne, I needed that!
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annew April 13, 2012 at 8:24 am

;) I’m picturing you reading and having a happy face when you’re done.

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Sharon Hurley Hall April 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Great, positive advice, Anne. I find a gratitude list very inspiring and the next best thing for me is helping someone – excellent tips!
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annew April 13, 2012 at 8:23 am

Like minds, Sharon.

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Myrna April 12, 2012 at 11:49 am

Wow! I love these ways you have written here… These are very helpful to all our fellow writers. Thank you for sharing and please keep on posting informative posts like this.

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Amelia Ramstead April 12, 2012 at 10:32 am

Love this post. I really do tend to be my own worst enemy! I’m totally going to buy a bouquet of flowers for my desk. Can I write that off as a work expense???
Amelia Ramstead recently posted..I Don’t Get No RespectMy Profile

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annew April 13, 2012 at 8:22 am

I write them off… talk to your tax guy… I think mine puts it under office decoration or improvement or something. But buy them even if you don’t deduct them – you deserve flowers.

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Claire Broadley April 12, 2012 at 10:07 am

Perhaps this sounds silly, but I try to get away from the computer! It’s all to easy to sit there and stew at your desk, particularly after a piece has been sent back. Of course, that means it’s impossible to concentrate which only makes things worse. Taking the dog for a walk or doing a few chores really helps to re-balance my mind.

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annew April 13, 2012 at 8:20 am

Claire, that doesn’t sound silly at all… getting away from the computer often is a great idea and necessary imo. Thanks.

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Barbara April 12, 2012 at 10:07 am

I so like this post. The gratitude list, giving help to someone else, and writing a list ring very true for me. They really perk up the start of my day!

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annew April 13, 2012 at 8:15 am

Thanks Barbara.

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Paula H April 12, 2012 at 10:04 am

Helping others is a great way to help yourself no matter what your profession. As a writer, a good thing to do it review past clips. It’s amazing how quickly seeing your byline alongside a great article can boost your mood. “Wow – I really am good!”

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annew April 13, 2012 at 8:15 am

Great idea Paula – I’ve been known to cast an eye at the books I’ve written.

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Fiona April 12, 2012 at 9:52 am

Great tips for all of us. I find nature helpful – taking the dogs for a walk and noticing the blue sky, lush green grass, etc. – always makes me feel better about the world.

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annew April 13, 2012 at 8:14 am

Exactly! And I suspect the fresh air is very good for us.

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Paula April 12, 2012 at 9:42 am

Thanks for the reminder & the inspiration, Anne!

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annew April 13, 2012 at 8:14 am

You’re welcome.

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