Copywriters and gremlins

As your career as a freelance copywriter progresses, you will come across things which have a great impact on you.  This might be something you read or some advice from a sage business person.  I’m going to share something here which I found very memorable and which made a difference to my copywriting career.

Despite having been writing copy for some twenty years and having undergone
copywriting training, I experienced severe periods of self-doubt when I started working as a freelance copywriter.  I spent many hours worrying prospective clients would think I didn’t know enough, wasn’t good enough … or even suggest I was a fraud.

While in my heart I knew I was a competent copywriter, it didn’t help those agonising periods of self-doubt.

About a year into my career as a freelancer, I went to a networking meeting.  The speaker was a successful businesswoman and frankly, I was in awe of her achievements.

To my amazement, she talked about her own self-doubts.  She agonised about being good enough and frequently doubted her own abilities.  This shocked me.  You see, I thought I was the only person who felt that way.  I thought it was a weakness and it never occurred to me that other business people might be experiencing exactly the same emotions.

She described it as having a ‘gremlin’ on her shoulder.  It was the gremlin which planted the seeds of doubt in her mind and undermined her confidence.

But her angel, which sat on the other shoulder, always came to her rescue.  She pictured the angel reaching over and slapping the gremlin, and speaking words of encouragement.  The angel said she WAS good enough, she DID work hard and she WOULD achieve her goals.

This was an epic moment for me.  Firstly, I realised I was not alone in having self-doubts. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, I realised there was no shame in admitting it.

All these years on, my angel and gremlin are still there.  The angel still has to take the gremlin to task, just not quite as often now.  The difference is I know everyone has an angel and a gremlin – they just don’t always realise it or admit it.

When I went on to work as a tutor, I had discussions with several student copywriters who were doubting their abilities. Some were on the verge of giving up because the gremlins had completely eroded their self-confidence.  I think … I hope … sharing my experience helped them through the difficult patches.

If you’re doing your copywriting training with the Copywriting Apprentice, remember to talk to your tutor about any self-doubts you might be experiencing.  Your one-to-one telephone tutorials are designed not just to talk about the nuts and bolts of copywriting, but to help you with all the aspects of your new freelance career as a copywriter.  Your tutor won’t laugh, or think you’re stupid.  There’s a good chance they’ll have experienced the same problem.

But in the meantime, when you doubt your own abilities, be sure to remember your good angel and let it knock that pesky gremlin off its perch.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

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