Writing Expectations and Impostor Syndrome

writing bat
Writing bat during a funk

Hi, spooky ones! I hope you’re doing well, and that if you’re not, you find some kindness today.

I don’t know about you, but I put a lot of expectations on myself when it comes to writing. On one hand, if you want to do this professionally, I understand the sentiment that it’s important to regard writing like you would any other task with a contract or deadline attached; you wouldn’t go up to your boss and say, “Restocking the paperclips? Sorry boss, I’ve been browsing bird and writing memes on Facebook and Twitter to avoid doing it.” At the same time, while I don’t believe you should wait when the stars align to write because writing can be work, I personally feel like if I cannot give a story 100% of my regard, if I’m not passionate or invested, how can I expect readers to be?

Admittedly, I’ve been frustrated with my writing and myself. From October 2015 to October 2017, I wrote three novels. The first one took the longest; the second one was written from May 2017 to July 2017; the third one was written from August 2017 to October 2017. Since I finished the last one, I have several fiction projects where I write a few words a week on a few of them. One is at 35K, one at 20K, most at 10K or below. I want to dedicate myself to one work at a time, but I have trouble concentrating to the point that I can’t tell if the stories are too weak, or if it’s just me going through a seasonal depression; I tend to feel at my lowest in the summer, or so I think (the heat makes me sick), but I’ve never had issues with productivity in spring and summer.

I feel a little guilty for complaining because so many fellow writers tell me how they wish they could finish one novel, and I completely empathize because I once looked at authors in awe like, “Wait, you CAN finish a story without revising it 5,714 times?” But still, I set up expectations of my productivity for both myself and other people, and I admittedly fall rather easily into Impostor Syndrome, which stems from fear of impressing people, only for them to realize I’m a fake, not as good, not as productive as they first thought. When I hear the dread “How’s the writing coming along?” a lie tends to come from my mouth. Or I’ll say, yeah, I’ve written three novels, neglected to mention when they were written, or that I’m annoyed by my lack of decisiveness on what to do with them.

It has been hard to accept that my writing routine goes through changes, and that it’s okay, and that this will either pass (if it’s indeed a funk) or redefine how I work. I’m at least still writing because even when I’m frustrated and weary, I can’t help it. When I read or look at art, the ideas and the sheer need to write begin building.

I will, until I’m as blue in the face as a waterlogged body, or an, uh, blueberry, that though you need to take writing seriously, you shouldn’t hold yourself to “write every day” or “write X words every day” because while that works for others, writing is individualistic and what works for others may cause burnout and disillusionment in others. Not adopting the routines of others doesn’t make you a Fake Writer. Honestly, if I could even stop myself from compulsively checking my word count every 2.7 seconds, I would. Still, I would be lying if I said I never fall victim to doubt and feeling as if I’m falling behind or proving that I’m “fake.” But I’m still writing, even when I’m also focusing on other projects.

That’s why I started this blog, a fun, helpful outlet for fellow writers where I feel like I can keep it real and hopefully guide others in whatever ways I can. For months, though, I’ve had people I know in real life request I start blogging about writing, but I felt like I didn’t have the ethos for it, and there are a million blogs already, right? But they kept insisting I had something unique to give, especially in the realm of speculative fiction, and I hope my musings here are helpful, or at least help you realize, if you’re struggling, that you aren’t isolated in your frustrations, even when others look as if the words just pour out.

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