Overcoming a crisis of confidence

July 2014 - Copywriting Course Progress

Month: 4/12 (33%)
Chapters completed: 8 / 21 (38%)
Assignments completed: 3 / 11 (27%)

Best bits:

Amazing feedback and lovely encouragement from assignments submitted so far.

Worst bits:

I am stuck on my 4th assignment – I have to write a home page and an about page for a website.

This really shouldn’t be as hard as I am making it. I mean I feel like I ‘get’ it – I have studied the text book and read a million different articles and blogs. After all I have spent 8 weeks dancing around the subject, I ought to be able to understand it.

I just can’t seem to ‘do’ it!

I have literally, make that figuratively if we’re being all copywriter-y about it, hit a brick wall.

Brick wall
My brick wall

I have tried re-reading my post, Not enough hours in the day? That's just an excuse, and I fully accept that I am stalling, finding other things to do because it’s too hard, but I just can’t get past it.

I guess it’s the nature of a distance learning course that, with no deadline looming, the weeks just drift by with nothing to show for them. I need that kick of adrenaline that a self-imposed deadline just can’t deliver.

Anyone want to sit me down, give me a rap across the knuckles and tell me to stop overthinking it and just do it?

Having sought advice from my lovely, supportive tutor, I realise that my issue is one of self-confidence.

I am having a sudden crisis of confidence.

You see, the website assignment is to write pages for my own website. That is my website, selling my virtues as a copywriter – which of course I am not! I don’t know whether it is just because it has brought home to me the enormity of the whole career-change idea – incidentally this is a phrase I have been resolutely avoiding – or whether it is just because I am particularly rubbish at talking and writing great things about myself. I suspect a little bit from column A, a little bit from column B.

Anyway, quite rightly, my tutor’s advice was:

“Realistically, you will have to get over your reluctance to blow your own trumpet.  If you can't market yourself, you won't be able to persuade clients that you can promote their business.”

N.b. She also said lots of nice things!

She is of course right, I couldn’t agree more.

So, how do you build your self-confidence quickly?

Not that I have cleverly used this as another assignment-avoidance tactic, but I have been reading around the subject. 

As far as I can work out, there seem to be 3 main areas of advice:

  • Trying to convince other people you're confident
  • Trying to convince yourself you're confident
  • And finally a longer term aim to actually become more confident

1. Walk the walk and talk the talk

Popular tips seem to be to walk tall, wear clothes that make you feel good, stand and sit with relaxed confidence, and smile. Basically, act like you’re confident and you’ll start to believe it.

This makes sense.

I am currently reading The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. In it, he discusses the need for humans to act ‘consistently’. 

So the psychology goes, if you set out confidently so that people believe you know what you are doing you will continue to act in that way so as to ensure that you don’t uncover yourself as a liar or fraud in the first place. Cialdini uses loads of great examples - It is really interesting stuff – and something I plan to discuss in more depth in a later post.

The other thing I keep coming across is the benefits of ‘working out’...Perhaps one to consider? 


2. PMA, affirmations and other such things

I could spiel off motivational quotes all day, Twitter is full of them.….

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. ~Anonymous

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them. ~Walt Disney

Do one thing every day that scares you. ~Anonymous

And more common ones that crop up in the every day, 'Positivity breeds positivity' and 'Tidy house, tidy mind' etc

Funnily enough, the last one is topical as we’ve recently embarked on the joyous process of selling our house – keeping it pristinely tidy 24/7 for viewings. However I would probably re-phrase this, ‘tidy house, tired mummy,’ especially with a toddler who is hell bent on un-tidying as I go along!

I must admit though, sitting in a lovely de-cluttered study to write this post is very pleasant and really does offer less distractions.

I also read that self-confidence affirmations can work:

“Keep the list under your pillow and recite them out loud every night before you go to bed. Here is an example of a self-confidence affirmation list: I am confident, I am strong, I am successful, I am a great parent, I am financially secure, I am healthy, I am I am intelligent, I am talented, I am a great spouse, I am a positive role model, I am changing the world for the better.” * 

Eek – I can see Hubbie falling out of bed laughing, now!

However, having gotten over my prejudices once before, and given hypnobirthing a try (they used the science behind it to sell it to me!) – there was obviously something about it, so maybe I shouldn’t write off the affirmations thing. Forgive me hugatreewithme.com if I ‘doctor’ the list slightly though!

3. Concentrate positively on yourself, not negatively on others…

This school of thought harks back to my post Whatever you think, someone will think you should think the opposite where I concluded that you should: 
"Focus on forging YOUR OWN path in the way that’s right for YOUR circumstances, and stop giving a damn about what everyone else is thinking and doing."

Stop the negativity towards those who are doing what you want to be doing and instead focus on making it happen for you.

One exercise I came across talked of working out what your qualities are, what you’re good at, and taking pride in these things. You should also try to understand where your insecurities lie and look at whether there are things you can do to address them. One tip suggested writing these things down and then tearing up the pieces of paper.

It occurred to me that actually writing an ‘About’ page is a really good way to do this by forcing me to ‘sell’ the benefits of my good qualities and address some of the concerns that potential clients might have - funnily enough these align quite nicely with my insecurities about the whole thing! And as my tutor pointed out only she and I need ever see this assignment, so what’s the worst that can happen?

Part of my reason for starting this blog in the first place was to get over my fear of people actually reading what I write, so I guess I’m at least some of the way there….

What do you think?

I believe the only way to truly start feeling more confident about something is to just do it, and to get better at it. This may mean trying, trying and trying again, but when you start to see improvements, learn to learn from mistakes and take on board compliments, that all important self-confidence will follow. And not the fake know-it-all kind, but the true knowledge that you are damn good at what you do and that other people think so too.

That’s where I want to be.

I am now setting myself a deadline – I will NOT write another blog post until I have submitted my assignment and set myself on the road to self-confidence….

I may be some time...

If you have any tried and tested tips for overcoming a copywriting crisis of confidence, I would love to hear them in the comments below.


Wondering how it all started? Read my first post: CA – Copywriters Anonymous

Follow my #copywritingjourney on Twitter: @weenixlen


  1. Victoria McDonald16 July 2014 at 20:38

    Fake it till you make it! And whilst, 9 years after qualifying, I know I am damn good at what I do, I still keep my business cards on my desk so I can see those three little letters after my name... we all need a boost sometimes. And FYI, I love your blog!

    1. 'Tis true (especially the bit about you being damn good at what you do!)

      Thank you for commenting - made me smile. Xx