I read somewhere recently that you have to be a bit arrogant to be a writer. That perhaps explains why I’ll never be a very good one.
Because I’m absolutely crippled by self-doubt. Whenever I submit a pitch and don’t get a reply the same day, my brain tells me it’s because it was so laughably bad that the editor in question didn’t even bother replying to say ‘no’. Or, if it’s a new publication or website, that they hate my other work so much, they’d never deign to even consider letting me write for them.
I can cope a little better with rejection. I’ve pitched four times to one website, with polite and fairly prompt replies (in the negative, naturally) from the editor each time. For some reason, I can more readily accept that when it happens. Later on, however, I’ll draw on these experiences – usually after another pitch has gone unanswered – to convince myself that I’m essentially unemployable.
It’s a vicious circle, because I’ll then be reluctant to approach others, my brain telling me I shouldn’t bother because it will only end the same way. Perhaps this is partly down to a string of bad luck over the past year or two. One magazine I was getting plenty of regular work from folded; another two editors I built a good relationship with moved on to pastures new; I wrote for another magazine three times without ever being credited or paid; I got regular work blogging for a network that went under (owing me roughly in the region of a grand); I wrote a number of pages for a pair of bookazines, neither of which wound up being published. Couple all that with my health problems, it’s perhaps little wonder I’m struggling to feel good about myself.
Ultimately, I don’t really want to give up doing what I do, partly because there are moments when I realise I’m not actually too bad at it., but also because I love videogames and love writing about them. These days it’s rare I get to write about the things I really want to write about, but that’s the nature of the beast as a freelancer: you get what you’re given.
I imagine I’m not the only one who struggles with their writing demons like this, and I’d welcome hearing from anyone else who feels similarly. And if anyone has any advice for trying to get past this frustrating lack of confidence, please do let me know.