Monday, July 14, 2008

Nervous? This Will Help.

I just read a post over on Words on the Page that really spoke to me. Lori talks about a new project that's outside her comfort zone--and she's nervous about it. I've definitely been there. I am a walking ball of nerves a lot of the time. Whenever I start something I've never done before, a little voice in my head starts screaming "You STINK!" Then it starts singing 80's dance music at the top of its voice. Here are a few things you can do to drown that voice out.

Read your testimonials. If you've collected testimonials from previous clients, those can be a big source of self-esteem. Read them over and over. Revisit them when you feel less than confident. If you don't have testimonials, you probably have some private emails from clients saying good things about you. Save those in a special file. These are genuine evidence that you are not, in fact, a fraud. You have scores of other clients who loved your work, and this one will too.

Draw parallels between this and something you can do in your sleep. Even if it's a new type of project for you, it's all writing and research at the end--and you can do that easily. New to writing e-books? Maybe you've done a ton of articles--and an e-book is just a long, extended how-to article. New to sales letters? I bet you rocked at persuasive essays in college--like those, sales writing is simply building a compelling argument. You can always find a bridge between a new project and something that's familiar. Use it to plan out your approach.

Do your research. Your client won't expect you to be a subject matter expert in their industry. But it can boost your confidence to do some reading before you show up for the meeting. Do some research into their company, their industry, the type of writing you're doing if it's new to you, and have some ideas going in that are grounded in fact. Even if you don't use them, it will give you a springboard to start a conversation about the project.

Remember they're human, and so are you. You're not expected to be perfect. And you're already good at what you do. Don't be intimidated into thinking you need to know the answers to all the questions, or that you can't show your personality.

What's the worst that can happen? The worst that can happen is that they don't hire you. Or they want revisions. Or maybe they don't want to go forward with the project and they back out under your contracted exit clause. Oh well. It happens. Will you remember this in five years? Will it matter when you're old? No.

Attacks of self-doubt strike even the most accomplished of us. It's part of being human, but as you gain experience you'll get used to it--and you'll come up with strategies for dealing with it. Use these tips to talk yourself down from that ledge, and you'll be able to go into that client meeting more excited than scared.

6 comments:

Lillie Ammann said...

Jennifer,
Asking if you will remember something in five years is a good way to put it into perspective. My husband always asks, "Will you remember it in 30 years?"

QuietRebelWriter said...

This is great! I derive much comfort and support by looking at past testimonials, and knowing that I can make folks happy :) And breaking a new project down into something familiar and doable is also very helpful. Thanks for the post!

Lori said...

Thanks for the link love, doll. :))

Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

Thank you so much for this fantastic advice. These points are certainly something I need to remember.

I've been intending to gather more testimonials. It would be nice to have those sorts of warm fuzzies at hand when I need them.

Great ideas!

Devon Ellington said...

Doubt Demons are the worst, and hard to fight.

But it can be done!

Joanna said...

Ah, I'm right in that space now. But I HAVE to break into new ground to expand my business and the type of writing I can do.

Plus, I tell myself, my client had enough confidence in my to hire me. Clearly, if they think I can do the job, I must be capable of doing it. It's just writing after all. Words are words, even if they're using different techniques to say something this time.