Dear Creatives, If You’re Doing the Thing, You’re Not an Imposter
Bring joy back to your creative process by letting go of perfectionism and imposter syndrome
“I’m a writer.” That’s what a voice within me says when I’m prompted about my identity — in bios on dating apps, in long-time-no-see convos with old friends, in the reflection from my mirror.
“Seems sus,” replies another voice from within.
The cynical voice has a compelling argument. I know what the work of real writers looks like, the stuff from literary greats I’ve studied and loved, and the scribbles I produce don’t look like that. Each time I announce to the universe that I’m a writer, I’m implicitly identifying myself as among those people, my work as among theirs. I’m calling my words a real writer’s work, separating it from the words written by everybody else. “Definitely sus,” the voice repeats.
After all, if my drafts read like an amateur’s, sound like an amateur’s, and would probably quack like an amateur’s, doesn’t that say something about me? Aren’t I being dishonest?
No. Definitively, no. And this voice, the more accurate, confident, and affirming one, took a long while to build. My journey went like this.
Stage 1: Wanting it badly
This might sound familiar to you. I spent more than ten years explicitly telling myself and those around me that I wanted to be a writer. In high school, I’d daydream about amazing plot points I wanted to bring to life. I’d world-build while walking to school, imagine tense dialogue instead of paying attention during class, fantasize about character arcs and story climaxes and cliffhangers and magic systems and sequels and…
Years went by and I did everything besides write. This is the only chapter of the story where the sinking feeling that I wasn’t a real writer was true: I wasn’t writing. I was living the life of someone who wanted to be a writer. I’d read books about it, watch YouTube videos on plot structure and craft, surf Reddit for comforting threads about “writer’s block,” create wonderful playlists of inspiring instrumental music meant to set the perfect mood for these mythical writing sessions that never came.