How Do I Know Whether I’m Good Enough to be a Writer?

Dear Jodee,

I’ve been writing for myself for a number of years and I would like to turn my passion into paid work. I am hesitant, though, because I’m not sure that I’m good enough. How do I know whether this is the right choice for me and whether I can make it work?

Need a Confidence Boost

Dear Confidence Boost,

If you feel a passion for writing, then you are on the right track by considering doing this type of work. The things that you are drawn to give you clues about what would be a good fit for you.

The concept of being a “good enough” writer, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder (or the reader in this case). Not everyone who reads something you have written is going to like it or appreciate your voice. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t good enough.

If you are waiting for a sign or the day when you feel completely confident in your abilities before you decide whether to pursue writing, you will be disappointed. Take action first and the feeling will follow.

To find out whether you would do well taking direction and working to some else’s instructions, as opposed to just writing for yourself, consider enrolling in a writing course. There is a difference between writing for yourself as a pastime and doing this as a job.

If, after taking the course, you are still interested in breaking into paying writing, you can take the next step and start looking for your first paying gig.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer but is sitting on the fence? Share your thoughts in the comments section or ask a question of your own.






8 responses
  1. Rachel Rueben Avatar

    The advice I’d give to Needs a Confidence Boost is this: Confidence is a state of mind, and if you don’t have it BEFORE you send off your work then you’ll be crushed by every rejection that’s going to come your way. Rejection is common and very normal in the writing business. But to survive it, you have to be able to bounce back quickly so you can send out that next batch of queries. That’s actually a character requirement in the writing business. It’s tenacity and not talent that gets you published these days!

  2. Carol Avatar

    Hi Jodee —

    I had this topic on my blog a while back…and my bottom line when you hear about a writing gig is, “Do you feel like you could write that?” If so, you’re qualified.

    As long as your reader doesn’t feel qualified, in their gut, to take paid writing jobs, they’ll hold back from doing it.

    You can get rid of that feeling of not being ready by learning more about the type of writing you want to do. I took UCLA Extension courses in magazine writing when I wanted to move into that niche, and it really helped me feel like I knew what I was doing.

  3. Patty Avatar

    I would really appreciate any advice on how to take the first step to writing an article and submitting to a magazine. How do I go about finding information on what magazines are taking submissions?

  4. Chris Avatar

    I’d say hit up Craigslist or a similar site and apply for some low paying job. Through the experience, you’ll make a little cash and learn if this business is right for you. Content mills migh tbe a good place to start, as they often take article writers with little experience.

    On the other hand, as someone who has contracted out writers before, I also know that a “love for writing” doesn’t always translate well into freelance writing. I’ve tried working with a handful of people who had a passion for writing but just didn’t “get it.”

    That said, you’ll never know until you try. So just jump right in and see what happens.

  5. Steve Avatar


    Great advice, and mine mirrors it:

    You never know until you try.

    Good luck,


  6. naomi hamm Avatar

    do you have a following and fans/friends who read your online posts and comments. Are you soical networking on sites such as LaFango, and twitter, etc, if so then you are well liked and should consider breaking out and trying for pay. Go on disquis and other sites, join online and offline writing groups, post comments on free online newspapers, such as making comments for washington post, the new yorker, etc the more u write and post the more recognition you will recieve and the more you will be lked.

    adhere to the strict rules of writing and never stray. sooner or later u will have someone asking u to make a deal of 50/50 to write and post on their websites cause they like the way u write and what u have to say.

    good luck and stick with it!

  7. Eric Avatar

    Joining a paid-to-write writing site like Hubpages, Squidoo, or Helium. Though still derided as “content mills” by some “real” writers these sorts of sites give you the opportunity to write about a wide variety of topics, make a small amount of money, and get used to how it feels to write every day. It won’t be long before you can see how your writing stacks up against other writers on the site and on the web in general.

    I joined Helium about two years ago, and since then my writing has improved considerably. I’ve learned a lot about how to write for web, and though I still don’t think I’m ready for the cut-and-thrust of freelancing (and not even sure I want the stress, uncertainty and routine rejection) I have long since put to rest any doubts about whether or not I’m “good enough” at writing to actually call myself a writer.

  8. Dale Avatar

    I like the suggestion to read an article and think ‘could I have written that’ – as someone who is very tentatively moving towards paid writing, I identify very strongly with that.

    My problem is slightly different – I’ve been told I’m good enough to write. I’ve even been paid a couple of times, but they were just through chance that an old friend, who had read some of my (free) work, needed content. This site is a great tool, but I have never been able to turn a pitch into hard cash.

    I wish you the best of luck in your new venture, and if you make the breakthrough, let me know how you did it!!

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