A couple of weeks ago, I attended an event in London as part of Red magazine’s Smart Women Week. This was the first time I’d been on a solo trip since our little one came to live with us (I’m an adoptive mum) and although my time in London was brief, it felt so liberating to finally be doing something for myself, by myself. Having said that, I also found the experience quite daunting – when your attentions are focused solely on one person for such a long time, you start to wonder whether you’re capable of doing anything on your own ever again (or, at least, that’s how I felt!).
There was another doubt eating its way into my consciousness that day too. Though I desperately want to be a writer, I’m nervous about introducing myself as one and I was fully aware as I hopped on the tube to Piccadilly, that once I arrived people would almost certainly ask me about my occupation. I’ve written for an e-zine, a local arts and entertainment magazine and I’ve also contributed to The Big Issue, but I’ve yet to earn a single penny from my writing efforts and so, in my head, it seemed almost fraudulent to announce myself a freelance writer.
But if you’re not yelling it, you’re not selling it, right?!? (A Hugh Jackman quote from Eddie the Eagle, if anyone missed that one…!!). And so, I silenced the little voice in my head telling me that no-one would ever take me seriously as a writer and instead confidently introduced myself as such throughout the evening – and what an evening it was!
The event itself – How to get featured in Red – involved a talk by editors and writers from various sections of the magazine. This was then followed by a Q&A session and the opportunity to meet the team whilst partaking in a spot of networking in the bar afterwards. As soon as anyone says the word ‘networking’ I immediately clam up. The idea of initiating a conversation with someone I don’t know is completely at odds with my introverted personality, but if you’ve read my recent blog post on change then you’ll know that I’m currently forcing myself to do the exact opposite of what I would normally do, and so, with a hefty G&T inside me, I plucked up the courage to start chatting (I’m not kidding when I say that this was a really big deal for me!).
Aside from meeting some genuinely lovely people (and I urge you, if you’re on Instagram, to check out Weald Handmade and The Honey Hews), I also managed to have a brief chat with Natasha Lunn, Red’s features editor. During the event, Natasha had stressed the importance of having a writing niche and the idea of immersing yourself in your chosen topic so that you become an expert. It occurred to me, during the networking part of the evening and whilst I was chatting to Natasha, that not only does my writing lack any kind of niche (unless you can call life a niche?), I also struggle to explain what my writing is about to other people. Natasha’s own niche is ‘love’ and, although she admitted that this is still a relatively broad topic, she started up a newsletter called Conversations on Love which has proven immensely popular and, I guess, made her a bit of an expert.
Ever since the event, I’ve pondered the idea of a writing niche, wondering if perhaps there’s already something lurking in my writing that I’m just too close and involved to see. I’ve always had a tendency to overthink things and miss the answer that is right in front of me and perhaps that’s the case now.
I’d love to know if you have a writing niche. Perhaps your blog is geared towards fashion or food, mental health or physical well-being. Whatever topic you’ve decided to hone in on, I’d love to know why and how you found it! Let me know in the comments below and, if you’re in or near London this time next year, make sure you check out Red’s Smart Women Week. There are so many inspiring events to go to and lots of fascinating people to meet. Due to time constraints, I only managed to get to the one talk a couple of weeks ago, but next year I’ll definitely be blocking out my calendar!