Over the years I have both called myself a writer and chastised myself over the very same description. Imposter syndrome has been in full effect.

But, what is a writer? Is it purely semantic? It doesn't help that there are various definitions.

Perhaps the most common definition is "a person who writes books or articles to be published" or variations on that theme. It implies that a writer is a professional, synonymous with an author.

And that's largely why imposter syndrome kicks in.

There are other definitions, however, including the following:

  • a person who writes or is able to write, and
  • a person who commits his or her thoughts, ideas, etc. to writing.

The first is the obvious derivation from the verb but the second is more meaningful. Indeed, the entry for "writer" on Wikipedia begins:

"A writer is a person who uses written words in various styles and techniques to communicate ideas"

These last two descriptions sound much more like a blogger, or even someone writing in a journal regardless of whether it will be read by others. In fact, blogger and diarist are both listed as types of writer in the Wikipedia entry.

Yet, armed with this knowledge, and that I am now literally writing more rather than typing, I still feel like a fraud and that the label should not apply.

#bypen

  1. AlanRalph says: #
    @colinwalker I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome a lot over the years, as a software developer and a graphic designer. The key is to stop comparing yourself to others. Yes, I may not know all the sexy new programming languages, frameworks, etc. or have artistic flair on tap. But I can learn new stuff quickly. More importantly, I can grok code well enough to see where it can be simplified or refactored, and I can fix overly complex artwork so it’ll print without tears.
  2. colinwalker says: #
    @AlanRalph That’s a very good point. I don’t so much compare myself to others as an idealised version of myself – me on my absolute best days when everything flows. Overall, I think it’s a feeling that there should be “more” and “better”; I’m way too hard on myself, always have been, but am slowly making changes that I hope will alleviate much of the self-criticism.
  3. AlanRalph says: #
    @colinwalker it has been hard for me to quieten that inner voice, and it still pipes up from time to time, but through this past year I’ve stepped back and given myself time and space to learn to love who I am now, not mourn who I used to be or fret over who I think I should be.
  4. Cheri says: #
    @colinwalker I used to ask myself if I was a real writer. It wasn’t a helpful question because it led only to navel gazing angst. Some unsolicited advice from a fellow writer: take the energy you spend worrying about this topic and apply it to a writing project instead. 🙂

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