Are you burdened by the copywriter’s curse?
Many a copywriter is hindered with a trait that damages productivity and constrains our ultimate earning potential. We here at Copyblogger may actually be guilty of agitating this problem for you.
See if you recognize any of these seven symptoms in yourself:
- You start writing, stop half way and hit delete
- You often feel like you are your own worst critic
- You never feel like you’ve done the best you could
- You second-guess your ideas, even when you know better
- Other copywriters make you feel inadequate
- There’s always something more to learn
- Writing would be so much more enjoyable if you could just relax
Thankfully, if you do recognize any of the above symptoms, you are definitely not alone. In fact, I would say each and every copywriter I’ve met has felt the same at least once (and likely more often then they’d like to admit).
So relax, this curse doesn’t have to be permanent and is simple to treat. It even has a name.
Perfectionism: The Copywriter’s Curse
The first thing to realize is that writing requires two different modes.
Your main mode is what we usually identify with, which is the writing process itself. This is putting words down on the page.
In the second mode you go from writer to editor. This is where you clean, edit, critique, format, and ultimately decide when you are done.
Who’s in charge?
Our perfectionism problem starts when we confuse the two modes. As we put words on paper, the editor starts butting in, critiquing as we go. Rather than allow the words to flow, we keep stopping and starting, worrying and fussing, and heckling our own work from within. It’s no wonder we find it so hard to get to the end of a page when we have two personalities battling for control of the keyboard!
Edit but don’t agonize
As I mentioned, the editor part of us also gets to decide when we’re finished. The problem is, our internal editor loves to edit and is frankly a little lacking in the self-esteem department. Given a free reign and no deadline, your internal editor would keep editing long after the ice caps have melted.
In fact, in most cases our editor need not worry so much, given an opportunity to relax and let the writing flow, our first attempts are generally better than we think. Of course it’s good to edit, but I don’t do it right away. Come back to your writing with even a small break in between and it’s far easier to be objective.
No writer is an island
Finally, don’t feel as if you’re all alone in the process, especially when writing for larger publications. A magazine will have an editor who will have their own ideas about your piece. It could be that you agonize for hours over a tricky paragraph, think you have polished it to perfection, only for the editor to nuke it thinking it superfluous.
Even on Copyblogger, you’ll have Brian as an editor to bounce drafts off. An alternative to an editor is finding a writing partner, which could be just what your confidence, and your writing, needs.
Are you too hard on yourself? How do you manage your internal editor? Let us know in the comments.
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