Why You Need to Become an Imposter…. to Become a Good Writer

by Laura Lentz

The Church says that the Earth is flat, but I know it is round because I saw its shadow on the Moon. And I have more faith in a shadow than in the church.

                                                Ferdinand Magellan

We have moments of doubts about our creative process
– every writer has doubts!

There is so much advice out there on writing – I have hundreds of books I tap into when I teach my classes, and most have them have offered something that has enriched my creative process, and I pass along the best of that knowledge onto my students.

Despite the hundreds of books about writing I collect, learning is more simple than we make it. We learn by doing – by practicing.   I once owned a successful marketing company in Los Angeles – everything I learned about marketing I learned by doing, and I had no fear in doing something  I had never done before.

When I first graduated, I spent four years working for an advertising agency before a publishing company recruited me, creating a position.  My title was Special Project Coordinator and I was start new business-to-business publications and books that would be solid editorial products and generate new revenue.

I was 24 years old then and had no idea how to do my job, and when I asked the publisher for advice, I realized they had created this position for me on faith – they didn’t know how to do it either.

For a week I was frozen – I felt like an imposter in my field and in that moment I was.  But I wasn’t a good imposter.  I began reading the Wall Street Journal every morning and went to the library to research business trends in Philadelphia. I met with the editor and the head of sales and looked at the categories that were billing the highest at the paper and those that should have been billing higher based on business trends.

I met with real estate developers and executives in the health care field and asked them what their biggest challenges. Based on that research, I recommended launching two glossy magazines.

I had no idea what I was doing, but I started to get an idea of what I had to do, and I dove into hard work. Was the first magazine successful?  Yes – it broke sales records!  Was it beginners luck?  Maybe. Not every book or magazine I launched broke sales records.

But I learned early that luck looks a lot like hard work and long hours.

Writing and creating a compelling story isn’t any different from any skill you want to master.  To start something like a book or a screenplay, you just have to begin, even when we have no idea how to do it.

You have endless resources available to you, but mostly those resources are already inside of you.  Writing is work, and those writers I work with who publish aren’t afraid of that hard work.  That means writing every day, revising, showing up and maybe for a while feeling like an imposter.

Imposters who keep working and writing and improving become experts.

Every writer has moments of doubt about the creative process!  It’s natural and normal, but we have to keep going, because just on the other side of doubt is what we already know how to do.

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

Philip Brautigam
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