Every time I reach out to a potential client, prepare a submission for a publication, or apply for a writing job, there is still always a part of me that thinks, even for the briefest of moments: “I don’t deserve this.”
It’s part imposter syndrome, part self-doubt — because of course it is. But it still “is.” I’ve been writing professionally since 2012, writing in general for even longer than that, and still — STILL — I often find myself shaking my head whenever I’m pursuing another opportunity. Why would they pick me? I’m just one among thousands. There’s nothing about my portfolio or credentials that make me stand out.
This may be true in some contexts. I don’t mind the fact that my blog is still considered “small” despite the fact that it’s over 10 years old, for example, because the majority of aspiring writers probably have blogs in which they publish posts about writing. I’m one of many. Happy to help whomever might come along, but the idea for this blog was far, far from original.
But for the most part, I’ve been doing this long enough that I do have a pretty good idea of how to win over an editor with my words, land a job interview, pitch a story, and the like. My portfolio is anything but lacking in sample material. That’s what happens when you stick with something for almost a decade.
I doubt myself because I’m human. We all do it.
So how, then, does one manage to find success when they’re so unsure of their ability to do so?
The answer is, on the surface, simple. You can very easily doubt your ability to achieve something and still act like you deserve it. Even if it feels like you’re lying to yourself.
The truth about things like this is while you might THINK you’re the only writer who’s terrified to share their work, to get rejected, to be told their story isn’t the right “fit” — you’re not. Pretty much every writer has these kinds of anxieties because most humans do.
Most humans want to be accepted, to be told they can follow the paths they want to follow and that they’re doing all the right things.
But you probably (hopefully) already know that the world very rarely reflects these very normal desires, at least to the degree we dream of. Instant gratification doesn’t apply to most real-world things that matter. You very rarely get accepted to your dream job on your first try. Things pretty much never play out exactly how you imagine they will.
This can seem discouraging to some. The notion of hard work and years of long, not always rewarding practice take the sparkle and shine right off the writing dream. At least at first.
But you still have to believe it’s possible, even when it doesn’t seem like it is. You still have to act like you deserve to succeed — even when you don’t believe you ever will!
Why? Because there is power in confidence. And the beauty of corresponding with strangers who have the fate of your future career in their hands is they don’t know the difference between fake and real confidence. They don’t know if you’re exaggerating your belief in your skills and abilities or if you’re actually fully confident.
So gosh darn it, FLAUNT YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
When appropriate, of course. No one likes someone who tirelessly brags.
But when you’re reaching out to people who could publish your work or give you the opportunities you need to work your way up in your industry of choice, talk about what you’ve done. Who you’ve worked with, what you’ve written about, what your passions are. Treat it like an exercise. Portray yourself as the confident, accomplished writer you one day hope to be … because chances are, you’re already much closer than you think you are.
People give opportunities to writers who make it clear how much success matters to them.
And those opportunities pave the way toward the successes you’ve always dreamed of.
It all starts with pretending you believe you can … until you actually, at least for the most part, do.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.