I was having an email conversation with a hack pal earlier today and we ended up discussing the very female phenomenon of winging it. I actually gave a 10 minute talk on this topic at my business networking group a couple of months ago.
I've been a professional wordsmith for the best part of 30 years. I have loads of experience and I'm really good at what I do. So why do I sometimes feel like I'm going to be "found out"? I occasionally fear a "real" journalist is going to take one look at my CV or website and tell me I'm just playing at hacking.
When I turned freelance 2 years ago, I initially concentrated on finding work copy-editing and copywriting. I hadn't done any serious journalism for more than 10 years. Tentatively, I began to write again but because I'd been abroad for so long I didn't have a clue how to earn money in today's milieu as a freelance journalist. I did what I always tell others never to do - I wrote for free. I desperately needed cuts to show what I can do and I used those clippings to build an up-to-date portfolio.
More than 2 years on, I have a regular gig as contributing editor for a quarterly niche magazine. I have written for the national newspapers (something I probably could have done early in my career, but I lacked ambition then). And this week, two publications have approached me and offered me commissions. The logical bit of my brain tells me it is proof I am more than competent and only what I deserve. And the nagging voice on my left shoulder whispers "you fraud".
When I was younger, I wanted to be Julie Burchill. Well, not actually be her - I wanted her career. She is only a few years older than me and she was the rock hack I could have been if I hadn't been so timid and lacking in confidence. I'm much more confident now and I know I write well. I guess I won't feel like I've made it, though, until I can afford to pass on the editing and copywriting. Maybe then I'll stop feeling like I'm winging it...