Wednesday, June 4, 2014

ISWG: Feeling Fraudulent

For months I've stalked other bloggers' ISWG posts, feeling both validated and a little envious--envious mostly because I wanted to join what appeared to be an amazingly interesting and empathetic group of writers, but afraid I wouldn't quite fit in. (Some social habits acquired in high school die hard, apparently).

It took me years to get back into writing because I kept thinking, "someday I'll write my novel." I finally realized "someday" wasn't going to happen unless I started. So I did. I suppose the same is true here. If I really want to join (and I do), today is as good a day as any. Better, probably, because I've finally stopped procrastinating.

There are lots of things that I'm insecure about as a writer--but I suppose the biggest one is the feeling of fraudulence. Like I'm not actually a writer, just someone pretending (usually badly) to be one. This despite years of writing and teaching writing.

Unfortunately, it's not a new feeling either. I remember feeling the same way in graduate school, like everyone else was clearly smarter than I was. (Apparently this isn't unique, either--imposter syndrome is common among high achievers, esp. women). It was a huge relief to discover that many of the other students felt the same way. I'll never forget the day that a student I looked up to admitted that he often tended to talk more to cover up his ignorance on a topic. I thought he just knew everything!

And yet, when it comes to writing, I'm somehow secretly convinced that everyone else has figured it out--except, maybe, for my critique group, since I see them struggle with the same things I do.

I worry that someone will find out that I don't actually know what I'm doing with this character arc, that the words on the page aren't fully under my control, and revoke my author card before I've even had one issued.

And I suppose that's the real reason I admire groups like this--they remind me that these delusions are mostly in my head. We *all* struggle with writing to one degree or another (and those who don't, as Anne Lamott reminds us, are generally universally disliked).

Sometimes all I need is the reminder that I'm in good company. 


  1. Oh, I know that feeling so well. So glad you decided to jump in and join the group. It is reassuring to find so many others share the same doubts.

  2. Are you kidding? After three published books, I still have no idea what I'm doing.
    Welcome to the IWSG! Glad you jumped in and joined us.

  3. Welcome to the IWSG.
    I've discovered that EVERY writer experiences insecurities. They come in different sizes and shapes, and at different times during the 'writerly' journey. Some writers are just more skilled at masking these insecurities compared to others. BUT we all have them.
    Writer In Transit