What is a writer? This is what pops up when you Google it:
Are you a writer?
According to the dictionary, if you haven’t published anything, don’t write for work, or aren’t known for writing in a specific way, you’re not a writer.
But that’s not true!
If you regularly write stories, poetry, essays, or anything else for fun, or write in a journal, you’re a writer. There isn’t a specific task you must complete to be considered a writer. There’s no “write” of passage.
If you write, you’re a writer.
It took me forever to believe that.
I didn’t feel like I could call myself a writer for the longest time. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I wrote stories for fun, but I didn’t call myself a writer. I certainly couldn’t call myself a writer in college because I never wrote for fun and spent a lot of time questioning if I even liked writing while I obtained my degree in English. (Dramatic, I know.) When I got my first freelance writing job in March 2020, it took me a couple of weeks to realize that I was “officially” a writer.
This is imposter syndrome.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is when you can’t give yourself the credit you deserve because you feel like you’re faking it or doing it wrong. It’s not something you can be officially diagnosed with, but many people experience these feelings.
If you’re a writer with imposter syndrome, you might find writing challenging when you can’t even recognize your own talent. Perhaps you think that every paragraph or stanza is utter garbage, and your piece gets worse with every page. Maybe you deny yourself the title of Writer because you don’t have anything to show for yourself. Maybe you have awards, certificates, and degrees, but you still feel like you haven’t earned any of the praise you receive.
Imposter syndrome rears its ugly head in many ways.
My imposter syndrome looks like this:
- I don’t like to tell people I’m a writer because then they’d ask me about what I’m writing, and I don’t have anything good enough to show them yet.
- I don’t have a book published yet, so how can I be a writer? I’m a blogger, at best.
- So many writers are better than me.
- It’s difficult to write for more than thirty minutes at a time without distractions. Writers can write effortlessly.
- I don’t read often enough which affects my ability to be a writer. If I don’t read, I’m not a writer.
- I always have to look up definitions and I tend to spell a lot of words wrong. What kind of writer struggles like this?
It’s all silly, right?
I know I don’t need a bookshelf full of my work, be capable of focusing for six hours straight, or have perfect grammar to be a writer. Yet, I often worry about things like that.
Imposter syndrome can also cause you to work harder just to feel like you earned the title you already have. If you’re on the payroll as a Writer, Blogger, or Editor, or perhaps someone who manages these roles, you may find yourself working twice as hard just to feel like you deserve that title.
What To Do About Imposter Syndrome
Overcoming imposter syndrome will require a lot of work on your part because it will require you to change your mindset and thought patterns. Here are some things you can try if you don’t know where to start.
Look At The Facts
Those who tend to feel imposter syndrome are likely so overwhelmed by feelings that they overlook logic.
Analyze your life. What makes you a writer? Do you write poetry, fiction, or personal essays? Do you earn money for what you write? Do you volunteer your writing skills?
I’ll say it again: If you write, you’re a writer.
Perhaps you’re hesitant to call yourself a writer because there are Writers who get paid to write for a living. Don’t confuse the noun with the proper noun. You can be a writer without being a Writer. The only difference is that corporate gave you that capital W!
Talk About It
I don’t like to talk about how I feel, but I start to feel better when I finally do. Whether you turn to a family member, friend, Twitter mutual, or a therapist, talking about it will likely make you feel better.
If you’re not much of a talker, try writing it down in a journal first. Taking the time to sit with your thoughts and put them on the page might benefit you, too. Once you’ve faced your feelings, you might be able to talk about them with someone else.
Show Off Your Work
This one will contradict how you’re feeling, and that’s the point. If you don’t show people your work because “it’s not good enough,” that’s more of a reason to show it off! You think it’s not good enough, but how will you know if you’re right or wrong if you don’t receive any feedback? You may be pleasantly surprised once you let others see what you’re capable of.
Here are simple ways to show off your work:
- Let a friend or family member read what you wrote recently
- Start publishing posts on a blog
- Trade stories or poems with a writer friend
- Ask someone to critique your work
- Post a sample of your work on social media
If you haven’t convinced yourself that you’re a writer, you might benefit from hearing others saying it. Letting others into this part of your life is difficult, but it’s worth doing.
I don’t let anyone see the novel I’m writing, and I spend far too long making sure my blog posts are near perfection before I publish them. I know firsthand that this suggestion is difficult, but that’s why I’m suggesting it!
Connect With Other Writers
Grow your circle of writing buddies and have them look at your work from time to time, whether it’s for critique or just a simple, “what do you think?” Writers can give you more helpful insight than your non-writer friends can. You’ll get more honest feedback if you’re in a writing group. The people you know typically spare your feelings, so it’s good to let people you’re not as close with see your work.
If you’re short on writing acquaintances, join groups, follow writers on social media, or follow writers’ blogs.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Stop Writing
Everyone deals with self-doubt at some point. The best thing you can do to overcome it by yourself is to keep writing. Imposter syndrome may convince you to give up, but that’s the last thing you should do!
Even if you can’t bring yourself to let others see your work, write every day. If you can’t convince yourself you’re good at what you do, write every day. You’re going to struggle, especially when your imposter syndrome is hard at work, but that’s all the more reason to keep trying.