You chose to start a career or side hustle in freelance writing because you like writing.
But sometimes, when you start writing for money and to build your business, the thing you love suddenly feels more complicated.
You double guess your content, your tone, and your facts. Your writing speed slows, and so do your ideas.
You feel stuck.
When you start writing for money and to build your business, the thing you love suddenly feels more complicated.
How do you get out of this slump?
How do you harness your writing flow so you can consistently produce and make money?
The good news is that there are a variety of techniques to help you write faster and get your ideas flowing.
This article will explore emotional and thinking traps that may be slowing you down and suggest tools to address those problems as well as helping you identify your strengths and how to leverage them.
You’re used to the ups and downs of writing.
But if you’re reading this, you may be having trouble accessing your flow as a freelancer.
Writing flow is that magical experience when you sit down to write, and the ideas and thoughts come easily and consistently.
Momentary pauses to find a word or reformulate an idea on the fly don’t slow you down. That first draft flows.
But now that you’re starting your business, your writing process has slowed. You find yourself struggling to formulate a well-written article.
The reasons writing flow ebbs can vary from person to person. However, it’s possible to identify what’s interfering and fix it. To best help yourself break through and get that flow going again, you’re going to have to take a hard look at what’s getting in your way.
Thinking and Emotional Traps and How to Fix Them
Here are some common culprits that can interfere with a writer’s flow.
You started freelance writing to make money. Now that you are out there trying to find jobs, it’s not going as well as you’d hoped. The rejections are coming in, even from guest post sites, and you don’t know why.
As you start working on yet another article, the negative, self-defeating thoughts echo in your mind. “You can’t do this.” “Why would anyone want to read what you wrote?” “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” “You don’t know what you are doing.”
The negative chatter goes on and on.
While self-doubts happen even to the most accomplished person, if they’re left unchecked and allowed to roam freely, they’re just going to get in your way. Tame these thoughts to make progress as a writer.
Some of you may be thinking, “Hey, fears are the same as self-doubts.” Yes, self-doubts and fears often go hand-in-hand destroying people’s mental calm, but there are differences.
Sometimes people have confidence in themselves but still have fears that hold them back.
Self-doubts and negative thinking are the mental aspects, while fears are the emotional component.
For instance, you might fear you are too old to get into the freelance writing game because you are out of touch with technology and what interests people.
You might fear that if you fail, you will be letting down your family and yourself. You might be afraid that if you don’t succeed as a freelance writer then maybe you are not actually a writer.
There are also fears of not being good enough or smart enough or clever enough. These definitely can feed self-doubts. This combination loves to stomp on your newly created ideas.
Fears can paralyze you, making it hard to write.
As uncomfortable as it may be, take a few moments to inspect your fears carefully. Write them down. Don’t worry; you’re going to learn how to make sure they no longer bite.
Techniques to Bust Self-Doubts, Negative Self-Talk, and Fears
Keep a small notepad by you that you reserve just for this technique.
Do not use this notepad for anything else. As soon as you notice the negative thought or self-doubt, stop what you are doing and write it down in the notepad.
Then take a few minutes to evaluate the thought or belief.
What is this thought or belief telling you? What were you doing when it started?
Why do you think the belief started at that time? Look for any thinking distortions such as overgeneralizations (“I’ll never get a writing job.”, “I’ll always fail.” , “I’ll never be able to figure this out.”) or “should” statements (“I should give up.”, “I should just stop writing this article.”).
Now, take the negative thought or self-doubt and reframe it taking into account the full situation.
For instance, if the negative self-talk is “I’m not good enough,” you can reframe it as “I’m working on building my freelance writing skills and confidence. Every day that I write, I get closer to mastering the skills I need.”
2. Use the Power of Yet
This technique originates from research on growth mindset by Carol Dweck.
Growth mindset is the belief that you can improve and change things like intelligence and skills through effort.
The technique of the power of yet comes into play to help remind yourself that even though you might not be doing something at the level you want right now, with effort and work you will be able to do the task or learn the information or skill.
This technique is great at busting “can’t” statements.
For example, if you find yourself thinking, “I can’t write blog articles.” Stop and remind yourself, “I can’t write blog articles easily yet, but I’m working on building those skills.”
3. Keep a Journal
A journal is a great place to hash out fears, negative self-thoughts and beliefs, and stressors.
To get the most from keeping a journal, set aside a specific time to write in it each day. It can be something you do first thing in the morning or at the end of the day. Just be consistent.
By establishing a journaling routine, you create a safe place to explore stressful or uncomfortable thoughts, fears, and events.
This also gives you a specific time to focus on them which over time can help minimize the thoughts and stresses popping up while you are working.
Your journal also can provide proof of your progress goals for those times you need to be reminded that you’re moving forward.
4 Take a Brief Break
Are you feeling overwhelmed or stuck on an idea? Take a break.
Step away from the task and do something else. Take a short walk. Take your dog outside. Take a shower. Tidy the kitchen.
Changing your location and stepping away from the problem can give your brain a break and might allow it to work on the problem in a new way.
The key is to make sure you return to the task afterwards. Otherwise, you are teaching yourself to give up when things get hard.
Meditation is about focusing and training your awareness and observing your thoughts and self without judgment.
With practice, meditation can help improve your emotional health, self-awareness, reduce stress and anxiety, improve your concentration, and more.
It can be a great tool to help when self-doubts, fears, or negative self-talk is rampaging. It works best, however, when it is done regularly. There are many apps and articles to help you get started on a meditation practice.
One popular app is Headspace.
Identify Your Strengths
Now that you’ve identified mental barriers (e.g., self-doubts) and emotional barriers (e.g., fears), take time to identify what you do well.
Don’t skip this step.
There are going to be tough days. At its core, freelance writing is a creative endeavor. It’s an activity that causes you to put part of yourself out there – your ideas, your passions, who you are.
Grab a fresh sheet of paper and write down:
- Your writing strengths,
- What you love about writing,
- Why you are a freelance writer,
- What motivates you to keep writing,
- Specific examples of your successes.
Include a motivating statement.
It can be a word, a phrase, a memory – whatever you want. You even can have more than one. With practice, this motivational statement will become a part of your new routine to help you quiet your mind when self-defeating thoughts start to take over.
Now take this document and hang it proudly. Put it where you can see it while you work. When the self-doubts or fears or frustrations rear up, take a breath, remind yourself of your strengths and successes, and then get back to writing.
Freelance writing is rewarding, but when you’re starting out, doubts and fears can strike, making it harder to harness your writing flow.
By identifying and addressing these traps, you’ll achieve that state of flow more often and strengthen your confidence in yourself and your writing.
Please use the comments below to share any additional techniques you’ve found to help increase your writing flow or share other emotional barriers you’ve had to work through.