Shut Down Negative Thinking and Watch The Writer’s Life Unfold

Have you ever gotten fired up about something, ready to take action …

 … only to let yourself get sidetracked with negative thinking … and end up not following through at all? Well, I have. Let me explain …

I began 2011 wanting to make a career change … a big one. I wanted to live the writer’s life. I ordered the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. And before I finished it, I ordered another program … and another.

Then, I attended AWAI’s 2011 FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair in October. After four wonderful days rubbing elbows with some of the greatest copywriters out there today, I was ready to finally take action!

And then it happened … the self-doubt. I’ve done a few small jobs, but maybe I’m not really good enough yet to write for big clients. Then, I got scared. What if I’m never good enough? I began to think maybe I should give all this up …

Can you relate?

We’ve all let ourselves get sidetracked with negative thoughts. And, it’s easy to walk away from your dreams at that point. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are five ways you can eliminate self-doubt as you work towards the writer’s life. When I implemented these strategies, I gained renewed confidence, improved my writing skills, and now have a clear picture of exactly what I have to do to accomplish my goals as a writer.

1. Surround yourself with like-minded, positive people. By connecting with people that have the same goals and aspirations, you can tap into their confidence and get support when you need it. We’re all working toward the same goal: the writer’s life.

During Bootcamp, I met many actual working copywriters. Check out this article from Steve Roller, one of the full-time freelancers I met. And since coming home, I’ve made the effort to connect with as many of them as possible on the AWAI forum, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. The AWAI groups on LinkedIn and Facebook are great places to find like-minded people. Now I have a group of other writers I can go to when I need a peer review for a piece I’m writing, have questions about how to market myself, or am just having a bad day and need a little emotional support.

2. Learn as much as you can about copywriting. Commit to finishing any programs you’ve already started. Decide what your niche will be, and if there are any more skills you need, learn them, too. For an all-around course of study, I highly recommend Circle of Success, AWAI’s most comprehensive learning program. By the time you’re done with these programs, you’ll have copywriting knowledge, and confidence, to spare.

I admit it: I’m worried I don’t know enough about copywriting to be successful. But, the more I learn, the more confident I become.

3. Practice, practice, practice. The only way to become more comfortable with writing is to write more. An easy way to do this is to write every day … and I mean every day … with no exceptions. Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth or going to the gym.

In addition to any paid assignments you may already have, a good way to practice your writing is by working on spec assignments, like the ones available through the AWAI website. Spec assignments are writing samples, usually a headline and lead, that you submit to a potential client to show what you’re capable of. I recently completed my first spec piece. It’s hard to put yourself out there for others to critique when you’re new to the game. But, it’s great real-world practice, and you’ll get great honest feedback from industry professionals. You might even get a paying job out of it.

4. Set career goals. This is something I avoided in the past. Why? Because if I didn’t have goals, I couldn’t fail to meet them … Right?

But, on the flip side: If you don’t know where you want to go, you can’t possibly know how to get there.

So, just like you would use a map to guide yourself on a trip, take the time to set goals now. And with the new year just underway, it’s a great time to do it! Start with a goal for this year, like getting five new clients or making $50,000 from your freelance business.

Then, set up monthly milestones, like how many potential clients you need to contact each month to make sure you achieve your goal. Break these monthly milestones up into smaller, actionable chunks. For instance, one week, you’ll research clients, the next week you’ll work on your website, the third week you’ll work on your social media strategy, and so on.

Also remember that sometimes life gets in the way of your goals. If that happens, don’t abandon them; just re-adjust the schedule. For more information on setting goals, read this excellent step-by-step article by Rebecca Matter.

5. Attitude adjustment. I recently came across this quote: “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” It simply means not thinking of failure when working toward a goal — just go for it.

Most of us look at failure as a bad thing — but it doesn’t have to be. If we learn to think of failure as simply a learning experience, then it becomes a positive event. Using this mindset, I have begun to look at life as a series of wonderful possibilities, rather than potential roadblocks. A much nicer way to live, don’t you think?

There you have it, five steps to shut down your negative thinking and allow your dream of the writer’s life to unfold. These steps may not be easy. But, they will move us forward toward our goals.

Since taking these steps, I have created new samples for my freelance website, made connections that led to new opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise have known about, and have even landed a new client.

Do you have any secrets for keeping negative thinking from getting in the way of your success? Please share them in the comments section below.

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: February 3, 2012

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