Overcoming Stage Fright

Posted on May 24, 2012 by Bryan B

My first writing gig was as a news reporter for a video game website. My first efforts weren’t great, but they were respectable and I was having fun. Then, I got a note from my editor: “Just wanted to let you know you’re the most read writer on your site and thousands of people read you each week. Keep up the good work, and don’t get stage fright.”

GULP.

It’s one thing to write for yourself, but it’s completely different when you realize you have an audience. An audience expects certain things and holds you accountable. An audience can criticize and tell you you’re wrong. Worse, they can leave you altogether, making you wish you never knew you had an audience to begin with. This pressure can drastically alter your writing style, leaving your confidence in ruins.

This phenomenon isn’t limited to pulling back the curtain on a readership you never knew existed. It can also happen when you move up to a higher ranking on WriterAccess and claim that first Level 4 assignment when you’ve been a Level 3 for months. Am I good enough? What if the client rejects my work? Can I really do this?

When you start asking yourself these questions, you begin your descent down a slippery slope of self-doubt. But you can negate these feelings by focusing on what got you to your current level and forgetting your negative thoughts.

These tips will help you to get outside your paranoia and get you back to doing what you best – writing great content.

  • Write ANYTHING. It doesn’t matter if it has anything to do with the task at hand – you can always delete it later. Just get the ball rolling and ride the wave of good vibes. You can write about what you did today, about your favorite baseball team, or just a quote you like. Keep your fingers moving, and eventually you’ll get into your zone.
  • Skip the Intro. Sometimes we get so obsessed with crafting the perfect piece that we lose sight of what’s important. The introduction is a perfect example. You can spend hours on an intro, only to find that the body of your piece doesn’t really work with the intro you worked so hard to produce. Get to the good stuff first, then tack on the introduction afterward.
  • Put it in an email. When you’re in a rut, that blank Word screen is awfully intimidating. Don’t let your word processor win the battle. Open up an email and start banging out your piece. This takes some of the pressure off and lets you feel comfortable enough to take some chances. From there, your momentum will take care of the rest.

The big stage of the top gigs can scare the daylights out of you if you let them. But at the end of the day, content services like WriterAccess and their clients don’t care if you’re feeling a little gun shy. It’s up to you to put your blinders on, forget about your audience and keep things simple. It’s easier said than done, but once you trust yourself, you’ll unlock the door to your true potential.

Bryan B is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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