“Some writers I have worked with explain that it took three or four books before they stopped feeling like an impostor, and felt they could actually call themselves writers.”
The above quote comes from Betsy Lerner’s book about writing, The Forest for the Trees. I recently reread this book and it hit home in ways that it did not the first time I read it. Maybe it’s because I’m in the midst of pitching stories & agents daily and I still struggle with calling myself a writer.
I’m happy to know that most writers suffer from this affliction but not so happy to hear that publication actually doesn’t make the problem any better. (Even after four books? Come on!) At the moments when I suffer the most self-doubt, I remind myself of a few things…
- I have moved multiple times with boxes full of old journals. And no, I’m not a hoarder. I just can’t seem to get rid of my old writing and I have journals dating back to my freshman year in college.
- I have been blogging, consistently, since 2007. That’s six years of regular writing and over 500 blog posts. Sometimes I forget that blogging is writing. Which can be easy to do if you look around at some other blogs.
- People have paid me real American money to write things. Not many people, but still.
- I entered a short story competition last year. Normal people who aren’t writers don’t do that.
- I have a byline in a local magazine and another in a national one coming out soon. Seeing my name in print is awesome and makes me feel legitimate. My portfolio is slowly growing. I gain more confidence with every pitch I send.
That’s how I deal with the impostor syndrome. I remember that I’ve been writing for a long time. I celebrate my small achievements. I go easy on myself. I stop comparing.
And I write. That’s really how you prove to yourself that you’re a writer. You do the work.