writing

imposter syndrome + the big picture.

Over the past few days, I’ve spent a lot of time talking with other writers — all kinds of writers: writers who haven’t been paid for their work yet but who know they have a passion for the practice and want to figure out how to make a living at it, writers who are in the freelance game like me, writers who have finished real books (insert so-impressed-jaw-is-dropped face here). I didn’t plan for all of these meetings to happen over the course of the same week, but they did, and in addition to filling my heart with all kinds of joy and appreciation for other people who do what I do (and leaving me with a bit of a scratchy throat), this coincidence of timing has gotten me thinking a lot about the journey that I’ve been on figuring out how this new career that I’ve made for myself is supposed to look. Lately, I’ve been working so fast and with my head so. down. that it’s been a while since I really thought about the big picture.

Let me tell you something that you might have already guessed…

When I first started this blog in September 2016, it was because I honestly had no idea what was about to happen with my life or how I was going to spend my time. 

I knew that I wanted to be a writer, and I had a vague picture in my head of what a writer’s day would look like. I pictured myself toting my laptop around Brooklyn, posting up at various coffee shops, always casually and comfortably hipster chic in a loose sundress — or a loose sundress with a chunky sweater and tights, for winter. I’d learn to enjoy the taste of coffee and drink three or four cups a day, mostly because the people who worked at said coffee shops would learn to know and love me so well that they would offer free refills without a second thought. I’d crank out content for magazines and Web sites and maybe a few corporate clients here and there, but being in the constant flow of writing would also make it suddenly easy for me to finish the novel I’ve dreamed of writing since I was seven years old.

I knew that this wasn’t my reality in September 2016, and I knew it was going to take a lot of work to get there (which hopefully makes it sound a little less silly), but the best thing that I could think to do in the meantime was start a blog — and to use that blog to share with a few people the journey of actually achieving that writer lifestyle fantasy. I also knew that having a blog would give me an advantage when it came time to reach out to editors who would surely need to check out samples of my writing before they could agree to work with me. I didn’t set out to be a Blogger-with-a-capital-B, and it felt awkward when I started putting links to new posts on social media. There are still days when it feels awkward putting myself out there like that, but this blog has evolved with me over the last year and a half, and I’m so grateful for the community that’s built up here in that time.

In some ways, my life looks a little like the fantasy I had — but in a lot more ways, it doesn’t. I do occasionally tote my laptop to coffee shops in my neighborhood, but most of the time, I just feel anxious about whether or not I’ve spent enough on snacks and drinks to deserve a table.. and since I still don’t like coffee, my options are limited, anyway. I can rock the sundress or chunky sweater look after a meeting, but more often than not, I show up wearing gym clothes and sneakers. I most certainly crank out content for magazines and Web sites and the occasional corporate client, but being in the constant flow of writing sometimes makes me feel so creatively tapped out that I go for a few weeks at a time without even touching my novel.

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Positively cheesing with my first official byline last fall.

I say all of this not to somehow show that going this route has proven to be less glamorous than expected or to prove that working for yourself is harder than it looks. Even with the ups and downs — and the minimal glamour — I have a genuine appreciation for the way my days look now because it’s taken me a long time to get here. I feel pretty comfortable owning the fact that I’m a Writer-with-a-capital-W, even if some days I can’t help but wonder if real writers would wear the same sweatshirt for three days in a row.

But let me tell you about something else that has happened, something that I didn’t expect.

As I’ve grown into myself as a writer, I’ve also been so inspired by the social media and solopreneur communities that I’ve found myself trying to diversify my workload even further. I’m working toward launching a podcast this summer, I’m building an awesome PR/journalism education program with my friend Brittney, and I’m even feeling added pressure to turn myself into a Blogger-with-a-capital-B. It’s in these spaces that I find myself feeling insecure again. If I’ve already “found plan A,” should I keep showing up here? And if I’m “just” a writer (even one with a capital W), will people think I’m stepping out in a way that’s inappropriate or irrelevant when I put myself out there in new places with projects that have nothing to do — in an official capacity, at least — with my work?

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Things get real with a podcast when the microphone arrives.

I guess the answer is that I don’t know. And I’m sharing all of this with you not to imply that I’m right and other people are wrong or to make you feel sorry for me, but because I think it’s important to pull back the curtain a bit and show that imposter syndrome is still a thing over here, and that I’m still not quite sure where I’m going to land as the big picture keeps getting bigger and bigger. In that way, I guess I haven’t totally “found Plan A” yet, so I hope you’ll keep sticking with me while I do : )

In the meantime, I’m so excited to share one of my latest new ventures with you! (Cue imposter syndrome…. now.) I’ve been teasing to my new venture with Brittney Lynn for a few weeks now, and it’s finally time to reveal the details of Partnering for Press. We’re launching a series of three free Webinars all about the intersection of PR and journalism, so if you want to learn more about what I do or have a secret side hustle that you’re dying to get out in the world, I would love, love, love for you to tune into the first chapter, which will be live on Tuesday 3/20 at 8 pm EST. It’s free, so you have absolutely nothing to lose, and you may even decide to stick around for the rest of the series!

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You can register (for FREE!) right here. If you have aspiring writers or entrepreneurs in your life, I’d be so grateful if you could share the details with them, too!

 

 

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so you want to start writing?

In the year and change since I launched this blog — and started writing full-time — I’ve been lucky enough to find myself in touch with lots of people who are interested in making room in their own lives for writing, sometimes as freelancers and sometimes just for fun. I’ve loved all of these conversations, not only because I typically feel an instant soul connection with fellow writers, but also because talking through the way that I’ve approached this whole journey so far usually gives me a chance to step back and think about what I might want to do differently moving forward. Since I work for myself, I often feel like I’m strategizing into a void, so talking about the writing nuts and bolts with people as fascinated by the craft as I am really (and selfishly) helps me get out of my own head. I give them some suggestions (or I try to!) and they make me feel like less of a one-woman show. Everyone wins, right?

In case there are other aspiring writers out there reading this who haven’t reached out to me directly (and you should feel free to contact me if you want!), I thought I’d put together a few basic tips that might give you the push you need to just dig in and get started. These are all really easy and should be helpful no matter what kind of writing you want to do. (If you like this post and want a more detailed edition in the future, please let me know in the comments below!) Keep in mind that I am by no means an expert. I have plenty of writer friends who might recommend different things, but when I look back on my experience growing as a writer over the last 15 months, this is what sticks out to me — either because I did it right or did it very, very wrong.

Here are a few things you can start with if you want to make writing (of any kind!) a priority in your life.

  • READ, READ, READ. It sounds really simple, but I can’t overstate the importance of reading for writers. If you want to write, take the time you typically spend reading every day and add to it. Reading helps you develop your craft, but (for me, at least) it also offers a mental break from writing. Sometimes, I can’t help but get sick of the words I write myself, and I need to step away from that. Since I’ve started writing professionally, I’ve added more magazines, newspapers, and online outlets to my rotation, so I’m reading content outside of the (usually fiction) books that I’m always drawn to.
  • Start a blog. Starting a blog doesn’t mean you need to have true Blogger-with-a-capital-B aspirations. It just means you’re setting up a space for yourself online where you can share your writing and ideas. Creating a more public platform will encourage you to write with some consistency, and if you’re planning to start freelancing at some point, it will be a great way for you to showcase your writing skills to editors early on.
  • Seek out a writing community. One of the first pieces of advice I got when I decided to start freelancing was to find Facebook groups of other writers. Honestly, I hadn’t been a big fan of these groups before that, and I still struggle with some of them now (so many notifications! so much complaining!), but finding some way to network with people who are pursuing the same things you’re pursuing is obviously really helpful in the early stages. There are groups for aspiring freelancers, essayists, novelists… pretty much anything you can think of! If you need recommendations for specific groups, feel free to send me an email!
  • Start with small chunks of time. Writing is a muscle, and if you’re not used to spending a lot of time doing it, it can take a while to work up to the point where you can sit and do it for hours (or days!) at a time. Set a timer for 30 minutes every day and spend that time writing in your journal or working on an essay. Even if you’re struggling with writer’s block for part of that half hour, don’t turn your attention to something else! It will get easier to put in the time if you practice sitting down in front of your computer and just. doing. it. This is an especially good tip if you’re trying to work writing in around a 9-to-5 job. Almost anyone can find 30 minutes to spare at some point throughout the day — even if it means waking up a little earlier : )
  • Tell people. Just like anything in life, writing is a lot easier to take seriously if you have people holding you accountable to it. Make sure the people in your life know that you’re prepared to make writing more of a priority in your day-to-day routine. Hopefully, they’ll step up to keep you on track and give you a listening ear when you need one. When I’m going through a slump with working on my book, I commit to texting one of my friends a random emoji every time I spend more than 30 minutes on it. Even an extra dose of accountability for those baby steps is helpful!

I hope this helps! Again — please, please let me know in the comments below if you’re interested in more content like this! 

In the meantime, don’t forget to enter this month’s giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive a this gold infinity charm bracelet from The Shine Project. What’s not to love about this?

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All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner here on the blog on Tuesday 1/30, so get those entries in ASAP! Be sure to spread the love and share the link with them, too. Good luck!

 

 

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