You can almost divide freelance writers into only two categories: Those who know their worth and those who don’t.
Those who have a healthy love and respect for themselves and their writing find ways to earn a decent or better living writing.
Those who are lacking in self-worth or self-esteem are always struggling and find themselves resenting the low-pay writing gigs they take.
Of course, it’s awfully easy to tell folks to buck up, and have confidence in both themselves and their writing. But if you’re full of self-doubt about your writing, just being told to change is unlikely to help, and may actually make it worse.
Writers are on display
The first thing to know is that a lack of confidence about your writing isn’t really surprising. When you post a blog, send a query, submit an article or prepare a proposal you’re putting yourself and your work on display in a way most others never do. Time after time you’re giving publishers or editors or agents or readers the chance to say ‘no’ to both you and your writing. Only visual artists who often stand beside their works in gallery openings and such experience roughly the same thing.
Sure, you can use a pseudonym, and sure you’re unlikely to literally stand in front of your audience and read (except at readings, of course), but the chance of rejection is high.
Self-doubt isn’t helpful
All these factors combine to make self-doubt easy, except, self-doubt doesn’t really work for us.
It’s one thing to do a realistic assessment and, for example, realize you’re not qualified to write about quantum physics, and quite another to deny your experience, say, as a parent.
It’s perfectly reasonable to do a lot of rewriting, particularly in the beginning of your writing career. If, on the other hand, lack of self-confidence keeps you editing and never submitting you’re letting self-doubt stop you completely.
While it might make sense to accept low pay for an article or two just to get some experience (although I’m never sure even one or two at a subsistence level is really a good idea) if you find yourself never daring to submit to markets that pay more, you’re getting in your own way.
Try this to improve self-worth
Here’s a challenge I was given by a spiritual teacher of mine – but you don’t have to be a believer to have it work for you.
Every day write down three ways the world is a better place
because you’re in it.
Here’s the sort of thing I mean:
Today I got my tires properly inflated (saving gas which is good for the environment); agreed to meet with a friend for coffee (cultivating friendship is good for the world – think about it) and wrote an article that helps people.
Nothing fancy and nothing I don’t do pretty often. But the simple act of writing it down makes me feel better about me – which not so by the way is also good for the planet because it’s one less person contributing problems and unhappiness.
Although it would be great if you did this every day for a week or a month, don’t put that pressure on yourself. Just do it once, right now and notice how you feel. That experience will probably make you want to do it more often.
It can also be effective if you do this just before you write and send a query, or work on a proposal, or start an article.
After you’ve played with this a bit, take an hour and write down 100 ways the world is a better place because you’re in it. Yes, taking out the trash and not kicking the dog count. None of these ways has to be impressive or hard. Oh sure, if you happened to donate money to a worthy cause or help an old lady across the street (after being sure that’s where she wanted to go) by all means include them. But it’s the little things we do almost unconsciously that add up to 100 or 50 or whatever large number you choose.
How this makes more money
As I improve my self-worth my income steadily increases. I’ve heard the same thing from I don’t know how many others, writers, artists and even people with regular jobs included. There seems to be some direct connection between feeling good about ourselves in a genuine way and income.
On the other hand, I also can’t count the number of writers I’ve heard complain that they’re broke and immediately tell me all the reasons they can’t approach better paying markets or ask clients for a higher hourly rate. Lack of self-worth fairly drips from them!
It doesn’t matter, really, why your self-esteem is low, if it is. You’re the only one who can change it. Sure working with a professional can help; so can a simple technique like this one. What are you willing to do?
Writers Worth Day
Several years ago, writer and blogger, Lori Widmer established Writer’s Worth Day, which has now become, I think a full two weeks in May. Her goal is simple – to encourage writers to take their writing seriously and see and claim the value they bring with their sill with words.
Of course, you don’t have to wait until May to start celebrating your worth as a writer. If you want an extra push, consider Lori’s ebook, The Worthy Writer’s Guide to Building a Better Business for less than $10.00. You can’t lose.
Join the conversation. Have you noticed a link between self-worth and income? How have you improved your view of yourself and your writing? Let’s talk it over in comments.
You might also enjoy reading 9 Tips for Starting a Profitable Sustainable Freelance Writing Business.