When taking the plunge to start writing, there are many obstacles that get in your way – the biggest one being yourself. Have you ever felt like a fraud or believed you were in over your head? Well, don’t worry. You are not alone. Most writers, both amateurs and veterans, have doubted their ability to produce engaging, compelling work at one point in their careers. So how do you conquer that self-doubt and quiet the voice in your head?
Check out five insights from past AFF panelists and learn what helps them battle imposter syndrome in the entertainment industry.
When faced with uncertainty, it’s tempting to settle and take the easy way out. At AFF in 2019, Liz Hannah explained how believing in herself and her abilities led her to write the Academy Award-nominated film, The Post.
“I thought everybody else was a better writer than I was, and I thought it was just going to be too hard. So, I just thought I would go into another career that is really easy. And then I worked in development for Charlize Theron’s production company, and I read scripts every day and gave notes to writers and worked with directors, and about two years into it, was like, ‘I think maybe I can write as well as some of these people’, not in an ego way, but like, ‘I see how hard it is, I see- see the challenges, but like, I think I want to try and do that rather than give notes.’”
–Liz Hannah (writer/producer The Post, Long Shot, All the Bright Places, Mindhunter) at AFF 2019
During her time at AFF back in 2018, Pamela Ribon discussed how her background in improv helps when she pitches, what it’s like writing for Disney, and crucial advice for any writer who is just starting out.
“That scary feeling probably means you’re doing something true, and that will resonate with someone else who’s just as scared to know, ‘Is this okay?’ And that’s how you start to find your audience and your voice and the words that you speak and the stories that you tell and the point of view that you have that’s yours and yours alone, but yet somehow connects with millions of people.”
-Pamela Ribon (writer Moana, Ralph Breaks the Internet; comic book writer Rick and Morty, My Boyfriend is a Bear) at AFF 2018
Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself is to take a leap of faith. When Robert Townsend joined us for the 2017 Conference, he shared how he had no Plan B if the filming of his movie, Hollywood Shuffle, didn’t work out.
“You know, here’s the thing. I think, you know, in hindsight, when you’re young and you don’t know what you don’t know, you just go for it, you know. You’re just like, ‘What do I have to lose? I mean, I’m going to make money. You know, I’m going to figure out a way to always survive.’ I think that’s part of being a real filmmaker, you’ve got to learn how to survive and use your wits.”
-Robert Townsend (actor/comedian/writer/director Hollywood Shuffle, The Five Heartbeats, In the Hive, Playin’ for Love) at AFF 2017
Speaking on a Television Comedy panel at AFF in 2017, Stefani Robinson reminded us that every writer has something special to bring to the table. Writers’ rooms can be intimidating, especially for comedy, so it’s important to remember your value.
“I am where I am or you are where you are because of yourself and your voice, so there’s no reason to critique yourself so much, there’s no reason to feel so much self-doubt, because you’re here because of yourself.”
-Stefani Robinson (writer Atlanta, Man Seeking Woman) at AFF 2017
At AFF in 2013, Maggie Carey explained the key to gaining the momentum and press she needed to get her first film, The To Do List, cast and financed was just a little bit of confidence.
“There is a little voice in the back of your head that was sort of like can I do this? But my manager, it was around the festival and I think the way I was sort of talking about the project in a way I was undercutting it and he just said Maggie you need to start acting like this movie is happening otherwise it will never happen. So, I pretended. So, I started pretending and then it actually worked. Just pretend, do lots of make believe, fake it and then it happens.”
-Maggie Carey (writer/director The To Do List, Silicon Valley, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) at AFF 2013
Don’t forget to grab your badge before prices increase on 6/15 and hear more from some other amazing panelists!