10 Ways to Avoid Writing Insecurity

10 Ways to Avoid Writing Insecurity

Reader Comments (48)

  1. I think anyone can be a pretty decent copywriter when they have a good coach, great resources (like copyblogger), true passion for the product and genuine respect for the prospect.

    Thank you Sean for some great reminders.

  2. That is awesome. Opposable thumbs, that is a great one. I try to field a combo of just about everything listed here. It makes writing easier for me because I get to be the me I am best at. Fear of doing something wrong is much easier to own up to after it is done than the fear of doing absolutely nothing when you have a chance to do something.

    Like my brothers always said, do first and plead for forgiveness later.

  3. You know, I’m frankly amazed at how we seem to be hitting near the same mark with some of our posts … must be a confluence of ideas. I don’t pretend to have your experience, but I think I’m contributing to the discussion!

    Great post on taking the leap and ‘just doing it.’ Often, the difference between the winner and loser is that the winner actually tried. I was at a meeting last Thursday, and a marketer was giving away some free items — some t-shirts and a gadget worth nearly $200. I didn’t personally participate, and I was astonished that for each of the questions he threw out, only two people out of the 40 or so in the room tried to guess at each. It was a low pressure situation, and they had everything to gain be being close to a number — no one there knew the answers. But the people who won were the people who actually tried.


  4. Tip # 4 (Believe) is probably the most important rule of all. I’ve known too many possible writers who were crippled by a lack of belief that they 1) were good, 2) had something other people would want to read. Some of the best writers I know decided to continue on, despite not having any readers. They were surprised to find that people were interested in what they had to say, which buoyed them on to more successes and more readers.

  5. Sean,

    What a great set of reminders. I am very new to the writing scene so am chock full of insecurities. Think I may very well print this out and hang it over my desk to force a brief review before I sit down to the dreaded blank screen.

  6. Awesome post! I would like to share something with regards to this; another way to get started is to answer questions like who, where, when, how, why and what. This may not apply for every situation but if I can’t think of anything else this is what I do. If I’m writing a review I’d answer questions like who is the creator? how can it help the reader? Where can the reader find more information? and then I’ll expand on the answers.

  7. Great post, some of these tips are extremely useful. I am a big fan of writing without pause and then returning later to edit, because it really helps to just let it flow.

  8. I think the best one is that writing is a conversation. Too many times people sound like they are just writing like a robot. Whether you know what that means or not, it basically means you’re writing a quick post like the Associated Press does. When you’re writing a blog you wanna be talking with the people that are reading your posts.

  9. Great tips for tackling road blocks. There’s IS nothing worse than a blank page staring me down with it’s saucy little deadline to accompany it.

    While we’re slowly trying to shape our brand here at http://www.shapeourbrand.com, the work is still managing to pile up regardless of the fact that we are STILL an agency without a name and in need of input. Because we can’t do it ALL by ourselves… or at least we don’t want to. These tips will definitely assist me in my drowning times of need while we build our exciting new agency from the ground up.

  10. “1. Appreciate your unique perspective.”

    It’s so easy to feel like you could never add a new thought to the seemingly endless amount of ‘repackaged’ ideas. And yet, as you so eloquently pointed out, we all have our unique perspectives to save the day. No two people ever see things from exactly the same angle. So it is very important that we remain confident when we post our perspectives on subjects that have been previously promoted.

    Excellent, excellent post, Sean. Another great addition to the archives of copyblogger! Eric.

  11. Awesome post! My favorite tip is tip #7 because this is something I’ve had to train myself to do–keep going. I agree with you completely when you mention that you will be surprised with what you have written upon returning to your work. Thanks for sharing this, and all of the other great tips!

  12. It’s always a pleasure to see your feed in my mailbox.

    The points are valid. New writers should be encouraged to print this out and tape it near the computer screen.

    I’ve incorporated many of these steps and I know they work.

    Isn’t it great that we have these forums to provide support to our brethren?



  13. Valeria: My absolute pleasure. I think the same can be said for any kind of writing, not just copywriting. As long as we can pull that which is inside us out, our words will be gilded with honesty. Honest language is what touches people the most.

    Sal: Absolutely right, Sal. There is no worse fear than that of regret. I don’t know the exact quote, but Twain said something about regretting those things not done far more than anything else.

    Heidi: There is never any harm in trying. We do much more damage to ourselves by allowing our fear to swallow us.

    Craig: Dripping the first drops of ink onto the page is definitely the hardest. You are correct. After that, it gets much easier.

    Erik: That’s so true. Once we get past that first stage of confidence, it is far easier to take our writing to the next level. Blogging gave that to me almost immediately. I was writing for almost a year, but the immediate feedback of a comment section gave me the belief in myself that I hadn’t realized I’d needed.

    Beth: That would be an honor.

    Mano: Addressing the five W’s is always a good tactic. Even when writing material that isn’t fact based, the five W’s are essential to the core of writing.

    Conrad: I can’t always do that, but some of my best work has definitely been done with a long pause in the middle. This particular post was written in a single sitting with a single edit, but that is rare. I also had a prompt, which I believe made things easier.

    Franklin: I do not like robot writing. When I cannot feel the mind behind the words, I find little value in reading them.

    Brian: Thank you. It is one of the finest titles I’ve ever had.

    Shape Our Brand: I hope these tips help.

    Eric: Thanks, Eric. We’ve all heard the same jokes and the same stories, but no two people tell a story the same way. We all have our favorite story tellers. It is an individual voice we long to hear, whether we realize it or not. Quentin Tarantino takes old ideas and puts his unique voice behind each character. That’s why he’s so successful. It isn’t because he’s giving the world new ideas, it’s because he’s giving the world his unique brand.

    MLRebecca: A couple of weeks ago, I packaged my first forty posts in an ebook. Before making it available for download, I reread them. I could not believe how surprised I was by some of the entries. I wrote them, yet had no memory. If anything, this is an indication of how deep our minds can go. We should use this knowledge to push our thought. Taking a pause, and then returning, might twist our topic into a place it wouldn’t have gone otherwise.

    Tumblemoose: A high compliment indeed. Thank you. These forums are blood for a beating heart. They have quickly elevated my confidence. Skill trails confidence, often by only a beat.

  14. I found “6. Write for someone specific” particularly interesting.

    I’ve never thought of using this technique before. I do wonder if it could bolster better writing.

  15. Great tips, Sean, all of them. I am a particular advocate of Number 7. The most IMPORTANT part is to Just. Start. Writing. Prime that pump. I find that just writing stream of thought ramblings helps to cleanse the system of all the clutter, which allows me to get to stuff of real worth. Even if all you write on your paper or screen is “I suck, I suck, I suck, I suck”, eventually more words will come to you. You might even surprise yourself.

  16. Bamboo: Writing for someone specific always helps me. Most often it’s my wife, but it really could be anyone. If I’m trying to be funny, I find myself writing for my sister. Fixing in on your audience, sharpens the voice for sure.

    Momma: We don’t want to read from a robot, but we are always drawn to the human experience.

    Blogger Dad: I’ve actually written that sentence before. You’re right. It does get better. I love revisiting something I’d left behind, especially if it was something I was super unhappy with. Chances are, even if I don’t care for the material as a whole, there is a piece of it which speaks straight from my heart.

    Mark: If we spend our time editing, we’re not spending it writing. The best way to silence our inner critic is to walk away. He’s usually to embarrassed to speak once we return to the words.

  17. This is great and it’s going on my wall. I always use an standard outline for my how-to and review sites so I remember to cover all the points.

  18. Great post, Sean! I can especially relate to #7. When writing the first draft, I just write like hell, nevermind typo, spelling and grammatical errors. I give it a rest and then get back to it and read it with fresh eyes. I can then craft it to a better piece.

    Thanks for sharing!

  19. Another one in addition to writing to someone else is to BE someone else. Go inside your reader’s head and swim up alongside their ongoing internal dialogue. You’ll know what to write then.

    If you’re thinking about yourself and your ability, you run the risk of being self-conscious which just means you’re too conscious of yourself. Be other-conscious.

    It comes down to preparation. If you don’t know what to write, you’re a long way from having done the research you should have.

  20. >>2. Writing is conversation.
    >>The more we speak, the more we understand the fundamentals. Writing is no different.

    How true. My first 10 were difficult. My next 20 worse still, as I started exhausting my resources. But after that it started to get easier. Somehow I always managed to find new inspiration and resources.

  21. Great post. I know I often freeze up when I’m staring at the page. I just start writing and then go back and review. There is always the naggy question of ‘will it be any good’ but there is only one way to learn the answer to that question, and that’s by hitting publish!

  22. Paul: I’m honored to be there. Thanks.

    Online Godfather: Thanks.

    Cedric Solidon: I’m writing more and more that way, and I’m finding that my quality is climbing.

    Sonia: That’s the truth. It doesn’t go away, but we get better at turning our backs to it.

    Louis: That’s a great suggestion, and one I’ve not yet heard. That would, I’m sure, be quite a help to my fiction writing. I tend to only write in alternative versions of myself, rather than someone altogether outside myself. Thanks.

    Calvin: That’s true – it does get worse before it gets better. It’s when we hit that first threshold of internal confidence that everything changes.

    Anne: No one can write for us (well they can, but it’s kind of expensive). It’s up to us do get the deed done.

    Neil: We’ll never feel the cool of the water if we never leave the diving board.

  23. I love seeing your name under that Copyblogger header. Brian should have you over for coffee more often.

    Numbers 8 and 10 echo my own perspective on writing perfectly. Write quality content or choose another profession and take chances. Life’s too short to sit with your toes in the pool.

    Thanks for another spectacular post Sean. I’m off to find a box of tissues. Proud of you, man. 🙂

  24. It’s all too easy to second guess yourself when starting any kind of project, but particularly with creative pursuits. That’s because they need something personal, some grain of self that can lead to all kinds of questioning and self-doubt.

    You worry about the right or wrong way to go about it, you doubt whether what you write is good enough, if it gets across what you intended to get across or if people will connect with it or criticise it.

    Learning how to overcome all that and go ahead with a quiet sense of confidence can be tricky, and these are great guidelines for getting going in spite of any fears and doubts.

  25. Isaac: I have not, but I will. Thank you.

    Maria: Once we slaughter the fellow, it’s smooth sailing.

    Jamie: Me too. If I had to pick one, it’s number eight all the way. It’s ridiculous what some people are willing to put out. Not everyone needs to be a brilliant writer, but we can all afford to take the time to put our words together with pride.

    Steve: Thanks, Steve. There is no right way to go about it. Words spill from everyone differently. Once we realize that, it’s a bit easier to gain momentum.

  26. Interesting, this is good for those who enjoy writing article cause that will indirectly encouraging them to start thinking “how do i create good article”

  27. Such a good post! I can relate especially well to #4,5,6 & 7! But even the rest are amazing. Had a wonderful time scanning this and then reading it again to really understand the depth of each point.

    Thank you for this one Sean.

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