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Finally. I'm back in my office at my desk typing on my regular keyboard. The floors are finished and life is returning to normal. While I love my MS Surface and got plenty done on it, I'm a creature of habit. I missed my mouse (how weird is that?).
It's been a good month of worth-inducing guest posts from some of my favorite freelancers. I hope you're getting some inspiration and motivation from it all. I am. No matter how long you've been at it, you can always learn something new.
One of the toughest lessons we learn as freelance writers is how to prevent doubt from creeping in to our psyches. We get the gig and we doubt our ability to finish. We get lukewarm feedback from a client and we doubt our skills. We get nasty letters from strangers and we doubt our own attention to detail.
My friend Lisa Gates calls it a harpy on your shoulder. You let doubt run through your mind. That client didn't respond to your email and now you think you suck. Show of hands -- how many have entertained the same thought? My hand went up. I've done that in the past. I came close a few months ago to thinking it again, but I let reason rule.
It's kind of a big deal to overcome the doubt. If you doubt your abilities, you're likely to:
- Take a lot of flak that doesn't belong to you
- Accept lousy working conditions
- Bend over backwards to please someone whose intention is to get free or reduced pricing
- Accept lower rates just to get the job
How do you lose that doubt that plagues you?
Remind yourself of your accomplishments. So someone accused you of not understanding how to write a brochure. Why believe them when you've written 20 of them already and all those clients loved the work you did?
Remember that not all clients fit. It could be that brochure client had something completely different in mind, or that they weren't able to convey to you exactly what they wanted. You're not going to be everyone's ideal writer, nor will all clients be your ideal client. It's usually no one's fault -- just a mismatch of personalities and communication styles.
Give yourself a reality check. If your client is saying you're too expensive, remind yourself that five other clients pay that rate without complaint. If you botch one project out of 50, remind yourself that you rocked 49 projects. One screw-up is expected. Fix it where you can and move on.
Don't overlook hidden agendas. When that client complains about the project after you've sent a third and final invoice, there's a strong chance the complaint is an attempt to avoid payment. In fact, if I were a betting person, I'd put my money on it. If someone slams you for your latest article and resorts to childish name-calling tactics, is it that your research didn't mesh with their opinion? Not everyone is operating from a base of fairness and/or adult behavior.
Revisit project successes. I keep a folder in Outlook with notes from happy clients and editors. Whenever someone bashes me or attempts to belittle my abilities, I refer to that file. Past successes and kind words can be a balm to bruised sensitivities.
Writers, how do you shake off doubt? What's your greatest challenge when it comes to removing doubt?