I knew I could write. I knew I could write for them. But I didn’t have anything that I could show them in the way of a portfolio per se. And that seemed impossible to me. I’d been writing my whole life – how could I not have any writing samples?
There was a moment where I thought, ‘Shit! I’m stuck in the classic Catch-22. I need a job to get writing samples, but I need writing samples to get a job.’ I felt dependent and a bit hopeless. I’d thought this was all going to be so easy – people would need good writing and I would write for them, goodly. All I needed was my computer and my brain. But now, with the writing sample roadblock, I was convinced that I needed other people to make my life as a copywriter begin.
I hate when that happens. It can be paralyzing. But really, it’s just an excuse not to move forward – born of the fear of taking a risk and the possibility of being great. Which is why I was thrilled when I saw that there was another way.
I cobbled the pieces together in my brain like this:
- I’m a writer.
- I’m trying to prove that I’m creative.
- I’m trying to prove that, as a freelancer, I can be responsible and self-manage.
- I have absolutely nothing to lose.
- I have a computer – and I know how to use it. (just like I’d said before, I was just going to use it for me first and then for my clients)
So in a stunning show of non-procrastination and verve, I gave myself twenty writing assignments. And then – and here’s the kicker – I completed them! I made the whole thing up. I wrote ads, I wrote sales letters, I wrote press releases, I wrote web copy, I wrote marketing letters. And I put them in a lovely black binder.
I also told potential clients what I’d done. I wasn’t about to start out under false pretenses. This was me – love me or I’ll leave you. I figured one of two things could happen:
- They’d respect it and jive with the gumption. And this would be good.
- They’d think I wasn’t for real and judge the fact that I didn’t have ‘real’ samples. And I wouldn’t want to work with those kinds of people anyway.
Most of them hired me. And I slowly replaced my made-up pieces with actual client work. Though I kept a few in there…for posterity.
I’m thinking about how often we don’t do things because we think we need something outside of ourselves to complete the task. I’m thinking about how often we wait for someone to come through and do their part before we can take our next step. I’m thinking about dependency. I’m thinking about self-sufficiency.
Is there anything – right now – that you’re not doing or finishing or starting because you think you need someone or something else to help you? Why in the world are you doing that? I bet there’s another way.
Image credit: newwavegurly (those are not my feet, but I do have and love those shoes)