A Writer’s Identity

I have been writing a blog in some form or other since 2005. That’s over sixteen years. Thousands of blog posts in, I should be able to call myself a writer without feeling a frisson of embarrassment, and yet despite working on my novel for years, chipping away a few words at a time, and despite writing thousands of words over at least five different blogs, I still find myself feeling like something of a fraud.

The #bloganuary challenge from WordPress, the folks who make the blogging platform I use, includes daily prompts. So far this month, I have dipped in and used some of them. The one for today is as follows: What do you like most about your writing? It is a flaw of mine (and starting sentences this way is evidence of it!) that I am naturally disposed to think of all the ways I am no good at something. Saying what I like about my writing feels like an impossible task – how do I answer that without sounding conceited? And even if I did put the fear of sounding big-headed to one side, my internal critic would be all too happy to step in with all the many ways my writing is not up to scratch. And yet I still want to do it. Imposter syndrome has not silenced me, just slowed me down a bit.

It helps to remember what Glennon Doyle said about people who wonder if they are really are a writer:

I don’t think that people who are not writers spend all day wondering if they are. I think if you deeply wonder or deeply long to write then that is your proof that you are a writer. One other way to know is if you find yourself feeling envious of other writers. When I was drinking all the time, I couldn’t even read the words of another women; it just burned me. And I think that’s because I knew that a braver version of myself could do that, was meant to do that. And there is nothing more painful that seeing someone do what a braver, healthier version of yourself was meant to do. I think envy, if we can sit with it instead of deflecting it, is really helpful. It’s just an arrow pointing us towards something we are meant to do. So two clues: if you wonder if you are a writer and if you’re envious of other writers, I think you are a writer.

Glennon Doyle on Facebook

I haven’t made any new year’s resolutions this year apart from my reading resolutions but I do want to try to write more and criticise myself less. These two pursuits seem pretty complementary.

8 thoughts on “A Writer’s Identity”

  1. This was a challenging one, wasn’t it? I went looking for famous writers talking about their own writing and couldn’t find anything other than their thoughts on writing in general.

    I’m also dipping in and out of these prompts and some of them I just can’t get behind, but this one was an interesting challenge. How to answer without sounding like a twat. The good news is, just from what I’ve read, is most felt the same and answered rather sweetly.

    1. I think the way it was phrased made it harder for me- if it had asked me to describe my writing, I think I would have said more about my writing but having to say what I liked was too difficult.

  2. If you haven’t come across it yet, Hattie Crisell’s In Writing podcast is good on writers talking about their writing.

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