I’m a Writer! But I Feel Like a Fake, A Ridiculous Phony
I’m going to catch hell for this one, like Jerry Maguire.
This is a clean, profanity-free version of a rant I posted on Medium. Because I’ve received a surprising amount of overwhelmingly positive feedback for the profanity-laced original, I am publishing this clean version so those who prefer not to read 4 letter words can enjoy it, too.
The mind is a dangerous thing and if you let it, it will kick you, beat you, and make you want to give up, quit, run for the hills and never, ever, ever look back. Ever.
In short, the mind can be a jerk.
It’s not easy to overcome the thoughts that trip us up.
The self-destructive thoughts our minds come up with may be irrational, but when they’re raging inside of your head, well, they seem very real and very serious, and they can be utterly devastating.
Have you ever felt like such a fake as a blogger and a writer that you want to walk away and never feel that way again? Do you?
Do you want to put your pen away and not sit there for hours and hours wishing you could write words that matter. You know, words others will care about as much as you do?
Not just words others will care about, but words that make sense and are flawless in their presentation, with no typos or other goofs. The perfect picture of perfection. And for Pete’s sake, no foul language.
It’s just bull. Really.
All of us perfectionists are missing the point. Seriously, we’re so far left or right, that we can’t see what’s right there in the middle staring us in the face. Oh, and don’t pretend you’re not a perfectionist, you most certainly are and you know it. You’re as bad as I am, if not worse.
Perfection Just Doesn’t Matter
Grammar, syntax, word choice, and structure are all ridiculous things no blog reader cares about, except other writers.
And you know what?
Writers will fight to the death contesting this reality.
Like me, they’ve been brainwashed.
Let’s admit it, we read so much work online that’s so grammar jacked and filled with filthy language, and yet gaining so much unprecedented attention that we just want to throw our writing tools out of the window.
And you? Let me guess.
You labor for days making sure your copy is flawless and presentable and what you think people are looking for. It’s practically dissertation quality, and when you finally get up the nerve and publish it, no one cares.
Or, at least, not nearly as many people care about it as you had hoped. But that dude (you know the one) with the potty mouth, who doesn’t even bother to capitalize proper nouns, is going viral with every damn thing he publishes.
Crash. Boom. Burn. Die writing tools, die!
I’ve amassed a blog following of over 100,000 monthly readers on my site and I share inspirational tips on, ahem, writing.
Hey, I wrote the book on overcoming Writer’s Doubt for Heaven’s sake. Literally. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly grateful Writer’s Doubt is helping so many writers actually do some writing!)
But suddenly, today, right now, right here, this minute, I feel like such a farce, a fake, a ridiculous phony.
You want to know why?
Because, I don’t have all of the answers.
Because I feel so hollow inside, so burned out and so disappointed.
Because writing is hard and the rewards for it are so rare.
Because life sometimes sucks.
I’m having surgery next week and I’m so scared that I’ll die that I want to write something momentous before it happens, but I can’t.
I want to write something to get my mind off of the fact I have to go back under the knife (second time in 6 months!). I want to write something that actually reaches you.
It’s just a hernia I tell myself, but it’s not the surgery that scares me as much as being knocked out, out of awareness and out of control. Lost. No yellow brick road. Just darkness. Neverness.
It’s irrational. Right? I hope so.
No one can scare us as much as we can scare ourselves.
It’s the same with criticism, no one can criticize us as much as, or as harshly, as we can criticize ourselves. We’re crazy hard on ourselves, and that, my fellow recovering perfectionists, is what perfectionism is all about. The two C’s.
Control and unmitigated Confidence. Or the lack thereof.
You’re a wimp, Bryan. Bone up.
You want to know the truth about blogging and writing, what really makes a difference and captures readers attention?
It’s not perfection.
It’s not grammar and all of that jazz…
It’s honesty. It’s pain. It’s telling your truth. It’s pleasure. It’s passion. It’s telling your story.
It’s not about dotting your i’s or crossing your t’s. It’s about life and living it in the here and now, day to day, with all the mess and all the joys, and if you’re fortunate, sharing it on the page.
It’s about you. It’s about me. It’s about all of us.
Just write because it’s what you were born to do.
You’ve got all these know-it-alls (me included) telling you how to write, how to gain an audience and earn thousands of $$$ in the process, but in the end, it’s really about telling your story, sharing it with the world and being honest about it.
Who are you? What are you about? What’s your story?
There’s a lot of people who want to know. Really, they do. And those who don’t? So what? Just know you don’t have control over that, not as much as us “pro-bloggers” would have you believe.
Write what’s in your heart. As cliché as that is, that’s all there is.
I wish I had more. I wish I had the secret. But I get scared too, I feel lost too, and sometimes, well, perhaps most times, I just-don’t-know.
Do you? Do any of us?
Follow your heart. Write what’s in there.
Tell it like it is, whatever that “it” is for you.
Copy filled with four letter words and an obvious disregard for any rules of writing, or perfect AP or Chicago style copy, doesn’t matter as much as saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
Believe wholeheartedly in what you are doing and if you’re fortunate and have a lot of luck, maybe you’ll get noticed. If not, try to realize that that’s okay and keep writing, because there’s a lot that’s not in your control such as timing, and again, a lot of luck.
Not everyone will be a world-renowned novelist the likes of Stephen King and not everyone will be a blogger the likes of Grand Master, Seth Godin.
So don’t buy into the lie that you can be them or even just like them. Everyone has a certain touch and a certain rapport of their own that can’t be duplicated. They’re hard workers, clearly, but they’re also gifted like crazy at what they do.
You can only be you.
Just remember that Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him. ― Stephen King
This post was the impetus for Inspired Writer. It’s available here.