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gettingby
11-20-2015, 05:50 PM
How often to you question why you are doing this? It's not that I want to give up, but, let's be honest, sometimes I feel like a fraud. I work for hours at a time in a small room with the door closed. Sometimes I stay up all not because I think I'm on a roll. But sometimes I have so much doubt. Lately, I've been questioning myself a lot. Do you guys ever go through this? How do you snap yourself out of it.

Filigree
11-20-2015, 06:14 PM
I switch gears to something more fulfilling or immediately necessary. I look briefly at past successes and try to out-do them. Whatever rebuilds my confidence.

Added: after nearly 30 years of art and writing, I accept that I am going to be a neurotic mess at some point of *every single project*. I'm happy that they mostly turn out all right, so I don't freak out so much at each individual meltdown.

Richard White
11-20-2015, 07:14 PM
Everyone I know has had those moments of niggling doubt from time to time. When they hit me, that's telling me I need a short break from the writing. Maybe it's time to go fire up the computer and turn red dots into gray dots on my favorite game. Maybe it's time to go grab a familiar book and revisit some of the characters that made me want to write in the first place. Or, maybe I just go out for the afternoon/evening - even if it's just walking around the mall with my wife and daughter.

Sometimes some breathing space is needed to recharge and refocus.

But, here's the question. Do you put words on paper? Then you're a writer.

It's that simple.

JimmyB27
11-20-2015, 07:22 PM
But, here's the question. Do you put words on paper? Then you're a writer.

It's that simple.
So writing on a computer doesn't count? ;-)

NateSean
11-20-2015, 07:46 PM
If it weren't for being a writer/author, I would have no word to identify myself to people. Writing is the only gift I have ever been truly proud of, as in I don't need other people to praise me for it, so when the doubt creeps in on me, being a writer is my silver shield.

Brightdreamer
11-20-2015, 07:49 PM
So writing on a computer doesn't count? ;-)

Well, technically, that makes us typists, not writers. Unless you're using a Wacom... ;)

Richard White
11-20-2015, 07:55 PM
**Debates tossing a rabid wombat at JimmyB27**

Kylabelle
11-20-2015, 08:11 PM
gettingby. Yes. You are a real writer. (Anyway, who is the arbiter of these things? I can see some big magical being watching us, going, "Nope; yep; maybe so; probably not; nope; nope...." LOL! Screw that.)

ebbrown
11-20-2015, 08:36 PM
How often to you question why you are doing this? It's not that I want to give up, but, let's be honest, sometimes I feel like a fraud. I work for hours at a time in a small room with the door closed. Sometimes I stay up all not because I think I'm on a roll. But sometimes I have so much doubt. Lately, I've been questioning myself a lot. Do you guys ever go through this? How do you snap yourself out of it.

Yeah, I hear you. I think self-doubt is the hallmark of a writer. I mean, are any of really sure we're any good at what we do? Yes, I have plenty of moments of doubt. The only thing that works to help me through it is to just keep stabbing away at it and try not to worry if it's good or not until it's finished. If I get hung up on questioning myself half-way through every book, I'll never get anything done. And hence, I will never know if it sucks or not. If that makes any sense, haha.

kingofeli
11-20-2015, 08:45 PM
You're a real writer if you:
write
Do you write? Congrats! You're a real writer!
Unless, of course, you're not a real person...are you a robot?

flapperphilosopher
11-20-2015, 08:54 PM
I feel like that very often. Something that helps me is to refer to reminders that so, so many great writers have felt like that too. This post: https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/03/02/john-steinbeck-working-days/ talks about Steinbeck's constant expressions of self-doubt in the journal he kept while writing The Grapes of Wrath. Such as: "My many weaknesses are beginning to show their heads. I simply must get this thing out of my system. I’m not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people. I wish I were." (my bold). At this point he had eight books published, including Of Mice and Men, and plenty of critical acclaim. He wrote that, "I am sure of one thing — [The Grapes of Wrath] isn’t the great book I had hoped it would be. It’s just a run-of-the-mill book. And the awful thing is that it is absolutely the best I can do."

The Grapes of Wrath won a Pulitzer. Steinbeck eventually won a Nobel Prize in Literature.

Reminding myself of those things--and having them in print to refer to-- really helps cement the fact that feeling like an inadequate fraud does not mean it is true.

Rachelgrant6
11-20-2015, 09:07 PM
Everyone who puts words on a paper no matter how bad or how nonsensical it may be is still a writer. I'm a teenager and though that sounds like way to young to be a writer, I am. I do it because it clears my brain and it's fun! Don't let the fear of others judgement of your work let you define if you are a writer or not. Write if you want to and do not let labels discourage you from doing what you love. If every writer had to have been a writer from the beginning, then we would all be frauds.

Quoting School of Rock ( a very reliable source of advice) "Don't let the man get you down. Stick it to the man!"

layzerphish
11-20-2015, 09:27 PM
Gosh I question this all the time. I struggle with finding time to write, and sometimes when I do find the time, I question why I am even doing this and if I am just wasting my time. Could I be doing something more productive? Maybe. Is this something I want to do? Yes

cmhbob
11-20-2015, 10:08 PM
One thing I've noticed since I joined a writer's group: the doubt stuff happens less often when you regularly interact with a supportive group of fellow writers. AW is awesome, but sitting next to people and interacting in teh Big Blue Room can do so much for you emotionally.

Writing is done by the individual, but it doesn't have to be a solitary pursuit. Find a local writers group, or start one. And local can be relative, depending on your needs and location. I drive 45 miles one way to mine, but it's so worth it.

shivadyne
11-26-2015, 09:13 AM
i mean i don't think there's specific requirements for being a writer other than "write stuff" so i'm pretty sure you're good to go.

i kinda panic a lot??? usually about how good i am as a writer or if i should write at all, but the easiest way to deal with that is to acknowledge that you're freaking out and either deal with it head on or ignore it until you feel better again. i mean, the second method might cause the problem to rear its ugly head again later, but insecurity isn't the easiest thing to nip in the bud to begin with.

Laer Carroll
11-27-2015, 12:20 AM
Take hope. Writing is like any other activity: we get better at it the more we practice it. And our doubts decrease.

They never go away entirely. And that's good. We can't find and fix problems if we think there are none.

We also get better at rewriting. This includes fostering the ability to see when it's time to quite trying for perfection and let the work be done despite its flaws.

emveehesse
11-27-2015, 12:42 AM
In today's age, with the prevalence of Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc., it seems more and more people feel free to call themselves "writer," simply because they write words. I find this to be true for many people my age, at least. Consider this and the question of whether you're a writer or not becomes a particularly interesting one. Can you say you're a writer simply because you manage to write a string of words? Or should these words impact, at the very least, one soul?

I've never thought of myself as a writer. Rather, I'd like to think of myself as someone who also writes (on top of the other things that I am and do). I'm not sure why. Perhaps, in this way, there is less pressure on me to produce something ... writer-perfect, if you know what I mean. At times when I feel I can't write anything worthwhile, I do find comfort in thinking, "as a non-writer, you're only trying your best." But, I wonder, what if I embrace the writer in me and think of myself as a writer?

RedWombat
11-27-2015, 02:39 AM
I never worry if I'm a writer. A good writer--that I worry about! But I write lots of books, so I'm a writer. There's not many other options...

Jamesaritchie
11-27-2015, 11:45 PM
But, here's the question. Do you put words on paper? Then you're a writer.

It's that simple.

So pretty much every adult and every child in the world is a writer? Wow, who knew it was that easy? If it were that easy to be an electrician, I wouldn't get shocked every time I try to get my old vacuum cleaner to work.

The good news is that I now know I'm not only a writer, but a portrait painter. It's true that my portrait of John Wayne looks more like Bullwinkle the Moose, but what the heck.

I honestly did not know you were something just because you try it. I will, however, thank God in my prayers tonight that this does not apply to surgeons. And trumpet players, for that matter.

Richard White
11-28-2015, 12:26 AM
So pretty much every adult and every child in the world is a writer? Wow, who knew it was that easy? If it were that easy to be an electrician, I wouldn't get shocked every time I try to get my old vacuum cleaner to work.

The good news is that I now know I'm not only a writer, but a portrait painter. It's true that my portrait of John Wayne looks more like Bullwinkle the Moose, but what the heck.

I honestly did not know you were something just because you try it. I will, however, thank God in my prayers tonight that this does not apply to surgeons. And trumpet players, for that matter.

James,

Really?

I thought better of you. I know you're curmudgeonly, but I didn't realize you were pedantic too.

Am I a writer? If one writes, then one is a writer.

No where in my statement did I say one was a good writer, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, or even a published writer.

You see, people write for different reasons. Some people journal to leave a memoir for their family. Some peopel write technical reports. Some people transcribe courtroom proceedures and turn lawyerese into English (yes, there is a difference). Some people hope to write that next Great American Novel.

Some people may even aspire to write as well as you do, James.

But, if someone simply writes a short story and reads it to their kids and their kids smile, then GOD DAMMIT, James, they're a writer, and all your self-centered disdain does not change that fact.

Bakka.

Undercover
11-28-2015, 12:49 AM
If you're writing and or doing something that pertains to writing like editing, revising, researching, submitting, researching again, studying the market, writing more, reading, reading, reading, and then writing again. etc. etc., I'd say you're a writer.

Ken
11-28-2015, 05:00 AM
I have an opinion on the subject, but since it would upset some and possibly cause offense I will keep it to myself.

Filigree
11-28-2015, 06:19 AM
Same here. My private definition of 'writer' and 'artist' probably comes closer to what James said. But I apply it most ruthlessly to myself.

Lillith1991
11-28-2015, 12:28 PM
So pretty much every adult and every child in the world is a writer? Wow, who knew it was that easy? If it were that easy to be an electrician, I wouldn't get shocked every time I try to get my old vacuum cleaner to work.

The good news is that I now know I'm not only a writer, but a portrait painter. It's true that my portrait of John Wayne looks more like Bullwinkle the Moose, but what the heck.

I honestly did not know you were something just because you try it. I will, however, thank God in my prayers tonight that this does not apply to surgeons. And trumpet players, for that matter.

Was this level of deliberate hyperbole necessary? I think we can all agree that the 13 year old very grudgingly doing a book report isn't a writer just because they wrote the report. The same can be said of a 13 year old that actually enjoys writing assignments and gladly does them. One may not be a writer, but the other is at least has the potential to be one in the future. Acknowledging that is no skin off of our backs, or not mine imo. They've got the spark and it should be nurtured like any other creative interest someone seems to already be invested in should be.

Kylabelle
11-28-2015, 03:12 PM
Can't edit on this device. Meant to type "a writer."

Kylabelle
11-28-2015, 03:22 PM
My post got deleted because, real writer that I am, I tried to edit it for a minor typo. Posting from an inconvenient device.

Trying again. Though some of us never experience self-doubt, most do. I have no doubt, though, that the OP is a writer, having read many of their posts, and a writer who has high standards. I was just reading about William Blake who was completely unknown as a writer til 30 years after his death. Not a fate I wish on us, but Blake was undoubtedly a wŕiter. For example.

kennyc
11-28-2015, 03:27 PM
I feel like that very often. Something that helps me is to refer to reminders that so, so many great writers have felt like that too. This post: https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/03/02/john-steinbeck-working-days/ talks about Steinbeck's constant expressions of self-doubt in the journal he kept while writing The Grapes of Wrath. Such as: "My many weaknesses are beginning to show their heads. I simply must get this thing out of my system. I’m not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people. I wish I were." (my bold). At this point he had eight books published, including Of Mice and Men, and plenty of critical acclaim. He wrote that, "I am sure of one thing — [The Grapes of Wrath] isn’t the great book I had hoped it would be. It’s just a run-of-the-mill book. And the awful thing is that it is absolutely the best I can do."

The Grapes of Wrath won a Pulitzer. Steinbeck eventually won a Nobel Prize in Literature.

Reminding myself of those things--and having them in print to refer to-- really helps cement the fact that feeling like an inadequate fraud does not mean it is true.

This!

ap123
11-28-2015, 03:56 PM
I have mixed feelings about this. I do think most peoplewhowrite have doubts about their work and their abilities, the potential appeal of what they've produced regardless of their level of measurable achievement.

I've thought about it quite a bit over the years, kicked it around on my blog, etc, and this is my analogy: I do a lot of cooking. A lot of people like my food, are happy to come eat at my table. I'm not a chef and don't call myself one because I'm not a professional, no one is paying me for my food.

I was fortunate enough to have a known editor at a major and respected magazine read one of my stories and reply telling me I'm a writer. The warm and squishy pride lasted about 1/3 of a second before I read on and saw it was, bottom line, a rejection.

Am I a writer? It's part of who I am, how I identify myself to myself, but for now it's more about identifying the action, "I write" than a title, "I am a writer."

Until/unless I'm actually published, not how I identify myself to others.

Ken
11-28-2015, 04:46 PM
Same here. My private definition of 'writer' and 'artist' probably comes closer to what James said. But I apply it most ruthlessly to myself.

Well now that you mention it, I feel exactly the same myself. Sorta along the lines of to each their own. My own (private definition) is that I will not be a writer until I am earning the equivalent of a full-time salary with my underwood, if evah. Sigh.



... for now it's more about identifying the action, "I write" than a title, "I am a writer."

I like this way of putting it.

Kylabelle
11-28-2015, 04:54 PM
So, writer equals author?

ap123
11-28-2015, 05:04 PM
So, writer equals author?

For me, when talking about myself, yes. Specifically, particularly (whatever other qualifiers I can insert here), when outside the confines of AW or a writing group.
I imagine the scene otherwise. "Oh, you're a writer, Mrs Fringe? Where can I buy your book/articles/stories/etc?"
:chair
Generally speaking, outside of the writing community, people don't make the distinction btw writer and author. Again, these are my thoughts for myself, ymmv.

Taylor Harbin
11-28-2015, 05:05 PM
I feel like that very often. Something that helps me is to refer to reminders that so, so many great writers have felt like that too. This post: https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/03/02/john-steinbeck-working-days/ talks about Steinbeck's constant expressions of self-doubt in the journal he kept while writing The Grapes of Wrath. Such as: "My many weaknesses are beginning to show their heads. I simply must get this thing out of my system. Iím not a writer. Iíve been fooling myself and other people. I wish I were." (my bold). At this point he had eight books published, including Of Mice and Men, and plenty of critical acclaim. He wrote that, "I am sure of one thing ó [The Grapes of Wrath] isnít the great book I had hoped it would be. Itís just a run-of-the-mill book. And the awful thing is that it is absolutely the best I can do."

The Grapes of Wrath won a Pulitzer. Steinbeck eventually won a Nobel Prize in Literature.

Reminding myself of those things--and having them in print to refer to-- really helps cement the fact that feeling like an inadequate fraud does not mean it is true.

I just finished "Steinbeck: A Life in Letters" and remember that passage. It was comforting to know that even a legend like him struggled with the same nagging doubts. I never knew he considered East of Eden his magnum opus.

Samsonet
11-29-2015, 12:18 AM
(General) you shouldn't place your identity on what other people say, 'cause even when they're not trying to exclude you, their definitions might not line up with you. It's the same in nonwriterly things, too.

I like the definition of "if you write, you're a writer", but it makes me lazy more often than not, so I've been using " you're a writer, but nobody's going to read your stuff unless you start writing this very minute, you lazy walnut." :D

Anna Spargo-Ryan
11-29-2015, 12:35 AM
I think I'm a writer. I don't doubt that I am. But this was definitely a change that occurred sometime in the past five years - I went from thinking "I'd like to be a writer" to "I am a writer" but I'm not sure exactly when or why.

I am still wracked by self-doubt all the time. Knowing in yourself that you're "a writer" sadly doesn't seem to be a balm for knowing you're also a terrible writer, an imposter, a fake or a fraud (all of which I am).

Silva
11-29-2015, 12:53 AM
I say I am a writer, to myself, because I am doing it of my own volition, devote time to it consistently, am actively working to get better at it, and hope to sell something in the future. I'm an amateur writer.

However, because of the above mentioned general public's habit of equivocating writing with authorship, I reserve "I am a writer" to discussions of hobbies when I am speaking with others. I haven't sold anything. I haven't made any money. So it's my hobby, to other people. Albeit a very serious hobby. Sometimes if I am feeling overwhelmed, I think of it as a hobby for myself too, because that takes off the pressure of what other people might think of what I just wrote and allows me to focus more on whether I like it and think it's good.

Once I am generating some sort of income (I wouldn't say it has to be enough to live off of) then I might describe myself as a writer(author) to others, because then I'll be able to point them to my work. It won't sound like I'm just dallying around with a vague pipe dream.

Samsonet
11-29-2015, 01:07 AM
I am still wracked by self-doubt all the time. Knowing in yourself that you're "a writer" sadly doesn't seem to be a balm for knowing you're also a terrible writer, an imposter, a fake or a fraud (all of which I am).

This, too.

gettingby
11-29-2015, 01:27 AM
Thanks for all the comments. I know it's a stupid question. That being said, I question myself and my attempts a lot.