So, you can write.
Does that make you a writer?
If so, then isn’t everyone a writer?
Finding where the line stands between professional and casual writing is hard. In fact, it is probably the main catalyst in the imposter syndrome that so many aspiring young writers suffer from when trying to break into the business.
I know for a fact, that this question of - “when are you actually considered to be a writer?”' is one that daunts me, and makes me contemplate where I stand in the industry. I am a student in the final year of my creative and professional writing degree. I have done temporary work as an assistant to a brand strategist, produced content work on social media for a small hospitality business, and have been writing my own blog (which I recently publicised). This is a small portfolio.
But is it too small?
What number of jobs or writing opportunities do I have to meet before validating myself with the title of 'writer?'
Whether you are trying to break into copy, content writing; or anything else that stands under the word connoisseur umbrella, you may feel as though you also sit in this boat of imposters!
How can we, as entry-level and aspiring writers, combat this?
Have a little faith!
If you want to move onwards and upwards in the industry - it is more than possible to do so, but you must have faith in your abilities. Don’t question whether you can introduce yourself as a writer depending on how many words you’ve publicized. If you have the talent - and the confidence in yourself, then you are more than capable of writing (no pun intended) your aspirations into existence.
Act your age.
Don’t let your youth mitigate you. As in every industry and profession - age is almost always taken into account, and sometimes unfairly. More often than not, people correlate age with competency.
Take your unofficial branding as an underdog, and use it to your advantage.
Research, research, research.
Dress your portfolio to the nines.
Use your experience so far - or lack thereof, to your advantage.
Treat every opportunity that comes your way as a learning hurdle. You know that project pitch you have to do as part of that job application? Put your all into it, treat it like it’s the real deal. Not only will you impress potential employers - but technically you will have another item to add to your portfolio.
Don’t beat around the bush - let people know that you’re still learning.
But more than anything - let people know that you want to learn.
Keep tabs on what you’ve accomplished.
In a lecture I attended recently, on networking and platforming as aspiring writers, we discussed a hot topic of knowing what you’ve written, where it is, and when.
Keeping track of this is so important.
Keep a notebook - preferably labeled or brightly coloured to avoid getting lost.
Inside, take note of all work sent off, when, and to whom.
Maintain a timeline of all publicised work and where it is - update as you publish.
This means that aside from having all of your work to hand when you need it - you can also go back and have a look at all you’ve done - hopefully with pride.
Reflecting on projects, be them big or small, will give you validation as a writer when you need it. This can also be seen as a self-review of your progress as a writer, seeing your development can really help give you that boost of confidence when feeling self doubt.
Become a part of the writing community - YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Expressing your fears and concerns about how you feel regarding your career as a writer is probably the best way to tackle imposter syndrome. Mainly because you will learn that - everyone feels the same way at some point or another.
For the past three years, I have kept my own writing aspirations relatively quiet and private. I felt as though calling myself a writer and starting a public blog would come across as advantageous and for some reason - obnoxious.
However, after creating connections and friendships with others in the writing community, I have gained a huge sense of confidence. Especially when speaking with other young people, I understand that so many of us are in the same boat.
IMPOSTER SYNDROME NO MORE!
The way I see it is:
It doesn’t matter whether you’re published, or how many years of experience you have under your belt - or even your age.
If you want to be a writer - then you can be, it’s that simple. Don’t let what you haven’t achieved yet deter you.
You are just as entitled to the name ‘writer’ as anyone else.