Am I even a writer? (part one)
What I’m currently grappling with:
Can I call myself a writer if I am not writing every day? Can I call myself a writer if I haven’t published anything in awhile? Can I call myself a writer when everyone is “writing” on social media? Can I call myself a writer when I haven’t formally studied writing? Can I call myself a writer when someone else is “more of a writer” than me?
My inner critic is such a mean girl. I am hard on myself when I am not writing, and I am hard on myself when I am writing. If it’s not imposter syndrome it’s the perfectionist standards to which I expect to be able to write. The whispering never stops: Am I even a writer?
Like a low buzz from somewhere within an old apartment building’s walls, I am pestered by this thought. This whisper. This not-enoughness. It keeps me up at night; it haunts my dreams. And when I think it’s finally gone, I realize that it’s not. It’s omnipresent.
This book has been unlike anything I have ever written or done in my life. It’s the pinnacle of all the hard conversations I’ve had with loved ones, all the unpacking and healing I’ve done in therapy, and all the late nights and studying and research I have done for graduate school and for building Brown Girl Therapy.
Am I writer? Yes. I am a writer. But to remind myself of this, I have a background on my phone that is literally just “I’m a writer” repeated 50 times so I’m forced to look at it every day. Do I feel like a writer? Not often. But maybe that’s part of being a writer. Being tormented by the inability to fully capture my experiences and feelings. To grant people full access to my inner world. Not because I don’t want to (believe me I have tried) but because it doesn’t seem possible. And while I won’t stop trying, it’s a roller coaster I can’t get off of.
I’ve been a fearful writer, an imposter of a writer if you will. I’ve disguised myself as other things — an editor, a therapist-in-training, a student. But this is where I shed my layers and reclaim my identity as a writer.
I have been writing this book in isolation for so long, but no more. I want to share and archive this experience because in writing this book….in truly being able to follow my thoughts deep into the throes of unknown territories, I must release my worst thoughts and my self-sabotaging tendencies.
I am a writer. I am a writer. I am a writer.
What is keeping me going:
Three things have created really big shifts in how I show up as a writer more comfortably now. 1) Curating conversations and social circles that speak to my truth as a writer— by (mindfully) following writers and authors, reading writer’s magazines, and starting to apply to writing retreats. 2) Setting up bimonthly writing calls with friends who are also writing books — this is the most freeing space I have for myself right now. 3) This newsletter is me taking ownership of my identity as a writer.
A resource I found useful/inspiring for my own book writing:
Reading about writing, as counterintuitive as it may sound to some, has been really wonderful in allowing me to reconnect with the art and creativity of writing. I ENJOY writing and being able to hear about other people’s writing journeys and lives has been inspiring and has made me feel less alone. If you’re looking for some place to feel inspired, two of my current and favorite About Writing resources are: Creative Nonfiction Magazine (the digital archive is amazing!) and I Have Notes Newsletter (an Atlantic newsletter by one of my favorite advice columnists).