I’m a Writer…Right?
Last night I was talking with a fellow writer about those ego-crushing moments when I tell someone I’m a writer.
We all know what comes next:
“Oh, what have you written?”
I muster all the confidence and courage I can and say: “I’m working on a book and I have a blog. Then I smile. Convincingly.
Nope, nothing published. Nothing official. Let’s just leave that unsaid, shall we?
It’s like the waiter saying, “This is my night job, but I’m really an actor.” Kudos to that waiter for his creative pursuit. Then again, maybe he should read my post on goals.
But we all judge, don’t we?
And maybe my listener doesn’t think scathing thoughts. Maybe there’s no judgment. Still, it’s hard not to feel a little chagrined when I have nothing yet to show that “proves” I’m a writer.
I believe these moments are good for me, though. Really, any situation in which I’m forced to eat humble pie is good for me.
This is the one and only facet of my life in which there’s a pie deficit.
The other option is to tell people that I’m a ghost writer and I sign non-disclosure agreements, but a lie is a lie, and lying just to seem validated seems cowardly.
I embrace these moments of embarrassed honesty not only with the hope they somehow build character by breaking down my ego, but also because of something said by Jeff Goins that I’ve decided to believe:
“Activity follows identity.”
By habitually referring to myself as a writer—despite the devil on my shoulder telling me I have nothing to show for it—I will more quickly come to behave and believe that I am one. In a way, I’m brainwashing myself. But don’t we do that anyway?
– Feeling hungry when you notice it’s meal time, but if a good distraction comes up, suddenly the hunger is forgotten.
-Consistently working extra hours because “the company needs us,” but if we’re out sick or gone on vacation, the business functions perfectly well.
– Moments when we say “I can’t” or “I wouldn’t enjoy” something and then, surprise, we do and enjoy the thing.
– Staying with a sub-par lover because we tell ourselves they’re worth the fight.
So instead of letting my unconscious manage my secret brainwashings, I’m taking a more active role.
Yes, I do believe I’m a writer . . generally. That doesn’t mean I don’t have doubts, and the goal is to minimize those.
It’s not like I’m completely getting my pride squashed each time; dread of the “what have you written” question feeds my desire to get my book finished as quickly as possible.
I wish I was more zen, that I didn’t care about the silent (and perhaps fabricated) judgments of others. But I’m exposing myself, and I’m pushing through.
Do you deal with things like this in your field? Some version of imposter syndrome? How do you deal? Leave a comment!
We could talk about this for hours no doubt. Thanks for saying things out loud we writers all think.
Ahhh, so nice to hear commiseration–thank you!