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The imposter phenomenon: overcoming imposter syndrome when writing legal content
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been in the legal services industry for one year or 30—you've likely experienced self-doubt at least once. The most learned professional can be plagued with self-doubt and the feeling of being an imposter.
Imposter syndrome is more than just a buzzword in mental health spaces. It’s something that many legal professionals regularly experience, particularly when writing content.
Do you have imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is exactly what it sounds like—feeling like a fraud or an imposter.
It’s a feeling of self-doubt regarding your abilities and a persistent fear that you will eventually be recognised as a fraud, even if you’re successful.
- If you have imposter syndrome, you may show several characteristics, like:
- a belief that your success relies on external factors rather than your own merit.
- a tendency to self-efface.
- self-sabotaging your successes.
It’s estimated that around 82% of the population experience imposter syndrome. It’s especially prevalent among high-achieving, bright individuals, including those in the legal profession.
Imposter syndrome in legal writing
Many legal professionals experience imposter syndrome when they are writing.
In the words of Sara L. Ochs from ‘Embracing Confident Writing’ for Bench & Bar:
“This insidious feeling, conceptualized as “imposter syndrome,” can often cause us to question our arguments, our writing styles, and even our self-worth. And these imposter feelings can frequently manifest in unconfident writing.”
A legal professional who lacks experience in writing content is especially prone to imposter syndrome.
Feelings that your writing isn’t authoritative enough or that your lack of time and resources limits your writing abilities may be overwhelming. This can result in procrastination and not writing valuable content for your website.
Unfortunately, this means you’re missing the opportunity to contribute content that showcases your valuable experience and your firm’s knowledge leadership.
Writing tips for overcoming imposter syndrome
Overcoming your imposter syndrome is critical to writing engaging, informative content that drives visitors to your blog/website. Here’s how to do it:
- Will yourself to write, even if you feel like a fraud.
- Start with something small, like a paragraph about something mundane in your life. You could set a timer – write for the timer’s duration and then stop. Using writing prompts may also help you to write more creatively.
- After practising for a while, compare your work to what it was like when you started. That can help you to see your progress and gain confidence.
Challenge your thoughts
- Imposter syndrome is a thought or a feeling, it’s not fact.
- You may feel like an imposter who isn’t good enough to write, but that doesn’t mean that it’s true.
- Even the most successful people, like Maya Angelou or Melinda Gates, experience imposter syndrome.
- Challenge your thoughts – do you have evidence for them? Would someone else agree with it?
- There’s likely no basis for the thoughts. Challenging them will allow you to overcome them.
Make room for error
According to a study on Imposter Phenomenon conducted in 2021:
“People with a fixed mindset tend to experience more impostor phenomenon at work, and this relationship is predominantly explained by their fear of failure.”
- Have flexibility in your mindset and let go of the idea of perfect when you’re writing – sometimes good enough is enough.
- Think of any challenges as opportunities to grow and learn. The more you ‘fail,’ the more you’ll succeed.
Use feedback to enhance your writing
- Even the most experienced writers will tell you that feedback is an important part of writing.
- Constructive criticism feels frightening when you’re experiencing imposter syndrome, but it will enhance your work.
- Send what you’ve written to other professionals at your firm to quality check. Not only will that help you to ensure that it’s the best that it can be before it’s released to the public, but it will also improve your writing skills.
- At the end of the day you have editorial control and can decide what to take on board and what to ignore.
Use content platforms like Passle
It can be a challenge to build confidence when you’re writing when you’re pressed for time.
With a content platform like Passle, you can publish a blog post in seconds, giving you more time to work on building your writing skills and less time dealing with uploading processes.
- Passle allows you to create content more often, and this familiarity with writing content can help you to gradually move past your imposter syndrome.
- With gamified author feedback, you can also gain insights into how your content is performing and what you could be doing better.
- The average Passle user creates 16 times more content than other professionals and can integrate into your website with ease.
- You can also use Passle to provide regular email digests of your latest content to your clients.
- We are an official Passle partner, get in touch to find out more.
Ask for help
- If you’re struggling, it’s okay to ask for help. Ask other writers, particularly those in the legal profession.
- Speak to creative agencies like us who may help you to generate ideas, ghostwrite content that you can amend or have advice to help you to improve your writing.
- Use AI content writing services to inspire your next piece and give you a draft you can build on.
- You’ve overcome every challenge that you have faced so far – writing content is just another hurdle. You can do this.
- Check out our blog post ‘Use content to build trust and credibility for your firm’
How can you feel more confident with writing legal content?
By specialising with small to medium law firms that want to grow their presence, we have a unique understanding of how to help you level up and compete with larger firms. We build design-rich, super-fast JamStack websites integrated with the leading content marketing platform for professional services, Passle, through an exclusive partnership.
JamStack websites easily integrate with third-party services, meaning that you can add, update, and change features without having to rebuild the back end. This is why Amazon, Nike, Tesla, Louis Vuitton, and Peloton are just some of the big international brands that have moved to JamStack. Create a unique user experience and stand out from the crowd.
We offer small and mid-sized law firms the best-in-class digital technologies so you can demonstrate to both clients and talent why you should be their first choice.
Talk with us. We offer a free "digital discovery session" to evaluate your current digital footprint, identify your needs, and give you expert advice on how to improve your online presence and write authoritative content quickly.
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