Positive Writer

Writing through doubt and fear, and you can, too!

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.

JMTM

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.

If you want to read the original, you can read it by clicking here. It’s explicit, so fair warning. This post was also the impetus for my new book Inspired Writer.

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.

crashbookburn

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.

Right? Right.

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?

people

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.

And you know what? That’s enough. That’s more than enough. You have to find your own gifts, your own voice, and your own kind of magic.
.
Be you. Look into your reflection and write for you. That’s what they do. That’s all any of us can do.
 –
Just remember that Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him. ― Stephen King
reflection

~fini~

Be you.

This post was the impetus for Inspired Writer. It’s available here.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins
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  • Okay, even though I’m not into gratuitous cussing, I actually like the original one best 🙂 And yep, I too am often simply frickin’ amazed at what goes viral these days! But you just hit it, Bryan: “It’s honesty. It’s pain. It’s telling your truth. It’s pleasure. It’s passion. It’s telling your story.”
    Which is one reason I truly love your blog 🙂
    Sending good thoughts for your surgery, and just know–you DID write something momentous here!

    • Thank you, Susan – on all counts! 🙂 I do agree, I like the original best, too. It was raw and emotional. This one is too, but just without the teeth.

  • Thanks for your heartfelt sharing, Bryan. I’m in the process of preparing a blog in order to do just what you say, sharing and writing from the heart. I look forward to hearing more from you following your surgery. My thoughts are with you.
    Norm

  • Thanks for the “clean” version, Bryan! I would have hated to miss this. The “Die writing tools, die!” line is hilarious! I’m my worst critic, just as you said. So what if I send my stuff out and nobody reads it. So what if I send out a query and get a rejection (planning to send my first “real” one this week). So. What. Will I die? No. So true about the way we try to be like someone else. Doesn’t work. As for the anesthesia? I wish they had a place I could go to once a week for that kind of sleep lol! That’s my favorite part of surgery, if there can be a favorite part of surgery. You’ll be fine. You have lots more to write. Thanks for the encouragement. Prayers for an easy procedure and speedy recovery.

    • lol and thank you, Doris. It’s always nice to get a restful, pleasant sleep. 🙂

  • Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

    Very inspiring post, Bryan! Thank you. Yes, all that matters is the story, and each of us has a unique one inside!

    • Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

      And wishing you all the best in respect with the surgery. Many healing thoughts your way, and thank you for all you do with this blog!

  • autonomous

    I read both versions. The ‘clean’ is better–less distractions. Most important, the content hits the mark. Young or old, we are all dying, and the dying writer (all of us) is dying the distill onto the page what we are living.

  • JDozier

    God bless you, Bryan Hutchinson. Thanks for being a voice of inspiration and encouragement. Thanks for reminding me that we all have doubts and no one has all the answers–even those considered to be the “great ones”. So glad I found your web site a couple of months ago.

  • Ann Vande Zande

    I need to read this 500 times. Thank you.

  • TeacheReader

    I have let my inability to find my perfect VOICE stop me from writing many times. I was thinking about this TODAY…. The only answer I discover is we can each have MANY voices that adjust to different tasks….

    • You know what, that’s a perfectly valid point. I totally agree.

  • Being true to ourselves it the best way to be memorable. I wish you luck on your surgery. Know that this post impacted me to stop doubting myself so much, so you did what you set out to do!

  • Katina Vaselopulos

    Inspiring, Bryan!
    Wishing you the best with surgery.
    God be with you!

    Katina

    • Thank you, Katina and thank you for your personal email and the positive notes. They’re helpful. 🙂

  • This was exactly what I needed to hear today. I HAVE been beating myself up over my writing–feeling like I should just give up because it all seems so hollow and wooden. Why? Because I’ve been scared to tell the truth. Like you, I’ve been faced with some hard stuff lately and instead of writing honestly about what I’ve been going through and how I’m learning to cope, I’ve been shying away from it. All along I’ve known that’s where the meat is, and the power to inspire–to make a difference. Thanks for telling it like it is.

  • LOVE -inallcapitals,giddyyoungschoolgirllove.

    Thank you. I’m not a real author yet. It’s nice to know even when you’re a real boy you still have doubts.

  • Emily West

    Thank you for saying what we all are thinking! Your blog is amazing and I come to it every morning to start my day. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • You know you go unconscious to some extent every night when you go to sleep? It’s just not when you decide when you go under surgery. I hope you get a great nap :^) and will heal soon. (Prayed for you.) And I got your book, Writer’s Doubt, recently.

  • samcarter44

    Thank you for this post. I needed to read it today. Hope things went well with your surgery.

  • Melissa Jacobs

    I’m in!!

    • Stefan

      That’s two of us. Good luck with your writing. I’m in!

  • Allyson Baughman

    So I don’t have to feel like this the rest of my fucking life? I’m in. And, thank you.

  • Alejandro Lozano

    I’m in

  • Nancy Andres

    I’m in and relate so much! When I struggle to get a submission out, I tell myself that my best hope is every bit as likely to occur as my worst fear. Nancy Andres, Author of “Colors of Joy: A Woman’s Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss” and Wellness Blogger.

  • Shannon Bianco

    Thank you. I’m so here. Holding a fresh MFA in Creative Writing in my hand and feeling like I just pulled off the most incredible magic trick.

  • Angie McMann

    I’m in!

  • Sarah Elizabeth

    This really spoke to me. I’m so sick of trying to find… something. Something to keep going, to let me know I’m NOT the only one who struggles (in general and with writing, lol). I feel like a lot of the advice I read is from people who had a very easy time writing, editing and publishing their work, and that’s just not cohesive for what’s going to happen for me. Thank you for being raw and honest and making me feel… just so much better.

  • Thanks a lot that was me I am in.

  • Carol Dikes

    Yep.
    Certainly a stronger impact with your original blog! Loved the Manifesto. My writing is in its pre-inception. Peace and stuff,

  • Rosalie Lyn

    I’m in.

    • Steve Light

      Let’s do this Rosalie!

  • Steve Light

    I’m in…

  • Harvey Meale

    Awesome article. As someone struggling to get traffic on my blog, I feel like this title speaks to me on a spiritual level! Thanks so much!

  • Colleen Golafshan

    I’m in!

  • Legendary FoxGirl

    I’m in!

  • Kata Monzéger

    I’m in!

  • DBD

    I’m in

  • HyperRustyRuins

    I’M IN DUDE!

  • I’m in.

  • Michel Daw

    Advice to myself, inspired by your post, paraphrasing Marcus Aurelius: “Stop reading about being a writer, and just be one.”

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c4432538c7376952f0d195038955463f128230d8cbcebe5bb373384456b6a50c.jpg

  • Nick Prinsloo

    I’m in!

  • Katie

    I’m in 🙂

  • Savannah Gilbo

    I’M IN!

  • Teri Anne Conrad

    I’m IN!

  • Christine Sempetrean Smith

    I’m in!

  • R.A. Wilkerson

    I’m in!