I changed my Twitter bio. The first word is now “writer.”
Cut to my poor, neglected blog, and then zoom in on my imposter syndrome.
I write things, dammit. I’ve been writing my entire life, and am not completely hopeless at it. It’ll take me a long time before I’m as good as I want to be, but that’s true for everything I do, so we’ll leave that point aside for now. The real question is, why did I edit and upload a seven minute video in the time between starting this blog post and actually settling in to finish it?
For me, writing is the most vulnerable thing I produce, for two reasons. While I often don’t say things as concisely or poignantly as I wish while podcasting, I also don’t feel too much pressure to make my off-the-cuff words perfect. When I write, it’s only me and my words. I’m not protected by a co-host, background music, or a laugh. It’s hard for me not to feel like everything I publish needs to meet some arbitrary measure of quality, or it’s not worth putting out there in the world. As we all know, pretending that something needs to be perfect in order to be complete is a surefire strategy for Never Finishing Anything.
Videos are similar in that regard, and I also focus on much less personal topics on my YouTube channel than in my writing. I didn’t even fully realize this until I recorded my one year anniversary video, in which I did speak a little bit about personal difficulties, and it was so difficult to talk about on camera that I recorded for over 40 minutes to make a 12 minute video. Writing, on the other hand, is how I express everything that is most difficult for me to talk about. I have a journal set aside for the singular purpose of getting my thoughts out when I feel like my head is going to burst from whatever is ricocheting around it, whether that be pain, joy, or something I can’t figure out until I spill it onto the page.
While it’s easier to mask the intense vulnerability of writing when I’m working on fiction, the pressure for it to be great feels impossible. When I’m writing personal essays, the writing can be bad (and I’m sure it often is), but there are fewer balls in the air. In my fiction so many things can go wrong--are my characters one-dimensional? Does my plot make sense? Are my themes too obvious? Is my setting boring? Will they see the ending coming?
It is actually stressing me to write all those questions down.
In conclusion, I’m insecure about writing, and that insecurity makes me lazy about it.
I don’t believe that you have to publish anything in order identify as a writer. If you write, you are a writer, that’s simply the definition. However, the reasons I haven’t been publishing much are completely unsatisfactory to me. In my case, I know writing and publishing more frequently will improve my work and my own sense of myself.
So, I changed my Twitter bio. I’m back in front of my keyboard, determined to put things on the internet, even before I’m sure they’re any good. To be fair, that strategy has been working pretty well for me so far. I hope that soon, you’ll see my byline on other places on the web. For now, you can find me here.