Creative people struggle with imposter syndrome. We worry about fitting in with our peers, being good enough at what we do, and finding our audience. I don’t think we have to fret, as long as you are being true to yourself. Before we get into this, I want to stress that this advice works wonders no matter what flavor of creating you do. This could be painting, writing, woodworking, etc, but for the sake of this article, I’ll be focusing on writing.
To give you this advice, I’m assuming that the following things are true:
- Everyone reading this right now makes something
- You all care, too much, about certain topics
- It matters to you to have credibility
- It is important that you want to get better at your craft
As a final litmus test, does this resonate with you?
We don’t make movies to make money; we make money to make more movies.
- Walt Disney
Be honest with yourself. If you find yourself sitting there thinking “Yea, I write to write”, then this advice is for you. Otherwise, you might want to skip this one.
The world is a different place when you put the craft before the money. Focus on the craft. Allow yourself to find your voice, which is what you say when you are writing articles or blog posts. Each one of you has an individual voice, all you have to do is give it permission to speak.
Once you have your voice, you need something to say. Luckily, this is pretty easy. Every single person I’ve met has been super passionate about something. You could be into Snapping Turtles or the best way to make nachos or motorcycle maintenance. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s something you are passionate about.
Then, once you have your voice and your passion, combine the two. That’s the big secret, the best way to be credible in your creativity. Take your newfound voice, and start speaking/writing/painting about your topic. The best works of art that exist were created by people. To do that, those people got good at saying what they think on that one topic. The final step is to go all the way in. Don’t talk about something you’re not passionate about. Make sure that you are working towards being in the top eighty percent of people on earth about your topic.
Once you have found your voice and passion, you need to start creating. There is one big secret to this; Pick a target audience, and only write for that audience. This target audience could be yourself six months ago. Or your family and friends, peers in the industry, or even a publication such as the New York Times. Whichever it is, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you start creating for that audience and only that audience.
When writing for your audience, assume a level of expertise among your readers. This is one of the benefits of having a target audience. For example, don’t define programming terms for an audience of experienced developers.
Another benefit is allowing you to remain focused. Beginner writers don’t focus. Most people write broadly on a topic covered by lots of other people that they don’t care about. And it shows.
Would you want to read a piece that I crafted for a wide population about a topic I don’t care about? Or a deep dive into a niche topic that I care about? I know what my answer is.
Human attention is valuable and finite. Give people something they will actually want to spend time on.