Fake it till you make it

The other day, my real life writer friend Sarah blogged something brilliant about “Playing Writer”:

Even now, I feel sometimes that I’m “Playing Writer” and while I have the knowledge and the skills, I’m not going to get over my insecurities until I work through them and tell myself that I am capable of doing this task I have set for myself. Sometimes when I’m talking about my book, I start to laugh or I apologize for my story. I’m scared I’m not going to live up to the things I’m saying about writing. I’m worried how someone will react to the words I have placed together — I mean, I want to be taken seriously. And I’m really good at talking the talk. I’m friggin awesome at talking the talk, if only that were the only thing I had to do! But, I have to walk the walk. Write the writing I’m always talking the talk about.

Right on!

I often feel like I don’t have the “right” to call myself a writer yet — like I’m just a kid playing make-believe — until I get some publishing creds to my name.

At the same time, calling myself a writer is a big part of getting myself in the right (write?) mindset. Telling other people “This is my goal, this is what I’m doing, and I will succeed” is a huge motivator to follow through. It’s accountability, you know?

It’s not that I write for other people — I don’t. But knowing that other people are watching me, and rooting for me, makes it a lot harder to watch TV instead of meeting my daily quota. (Of course, ideally I can fit in both…)

Anyway, that’s a big part of why I blog about my process. You guys keep me on track. Thanks, guys!

And with that in mind…

WIP update: 22,600 words, and 5 chapters done. I’m in the middle of Chapter 6 and definitely feeling better about what I’m producing. I’ve finally gotten a handle on the two main characters, AND the action has stepped up. So Chapters 1-3 will need a lot of revision to catch up to the rest.

But who am I kidding? The whole ms will need a lot of revision once the first draft is done!

Is it weird that I’m looking forward to that? (Or is it just walking the walk?)

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21 Comments

  1. Nope, that’s the writer’s motto. You hit the nail on the head.
    .-= • Recent post by Todd Newton: Three Months to Perfection? =-.

  2. This is a great topic. I think we all feel this way but what constitutes “making it”? Just being published? for me it’s when I can quit my day job!!
    .-= • Recent post by Sierra Godfrey: People Watching =-.

  3. Les

    Ah you’re beating the pants off me! I think I’m just playing writer at the moment.
    .-= • Recent post by Les: Etsy Picks: Flats =-.

  4. I identify with a lot of what you quoted from Sarah. Just the other day, I was talking to someone about my kids possibly going to preschool this fall, and she asked what I was going to do with myself while they were at school. I said something like, “Look, I’m going to say something now, but let’s not make a big deal of it, okay? I want to finish writing a novel I started a few years ago.” For me, I guess I don’t feel like I’m belittling or devaluing myself (which I sort of understood was Sarah’s concern). It’s more like I don’t want people to think that my writing a novel means that I anticipate getting it published and making tons of money. I’ve found that people don’t seem to care very much about what you’re writing as much as they care about what it means (fame and money haha) to have published a book. And you know me, writing and publishing are two completely different animals as far as I’m concerned.

    As to the point you made at the end of your post, I completely agree that saying something aloud (or writing it in a public blog) does make it real, and it becomes real, not just for you, but for everyone who hears/reads it. When *your* thing becomes *their* reality, it exists outside of you and has the power to generate its own destiny. :)
    .-= • Recent post by Sonja: In which my feelings about the dentist speak volumes about my feelings about my life =-.

  5. I am definitely watching and rooting for you! And it feels good to know you’re doing the same for me. I’m loving the writer community. I’m not even kissing up when I say that you are going to do this thing–get published and write even more novels. Who do you think inspired me to get a blog going? Read up on publishing? Write better? Get my hair cut? (okay, I always cut my hair in the spring, but now it’s definitely going to look like I copied you. whatevs).
    22,600 words! Man, that’s awesome. I remember when I got there with my first draft thinking, “I’m half-way there.” Seems funny now because at 50,000 I discovered I was a little over half-way there. yikes! It’s all fun, though.
    .-= • Recent post by Sarah: having the audacity to be myself =-.

  6. Great post! I too feel like I’m playing writing. The fit is still a little funky when I say “I’m a writer.” out loud. P.S. I left an award for you on my blog!
    .-= • Recent post by Samantha Bennett: Poker Face =-.

  7. Sierra-
    Actually that’s a great question: What IS success? I think it’s different for every person and was thinking about blogging on that soon.

    Sonja-
    “I’ve found that people don’t seem to care very much about what you’re writing as much as they care about what it means (fame and money haha) to have published a book. And you know me, writing and publishing are two completely different animals as far as I’m concerned.”

    So true, so true. MOST of the time, people don’t ask what I write, they ask if I’ve been published. (Then, when I say not yet, they ask what I write.)

    But you’re right: writing and publishing are two different beasts. Related, perhaps. But then again, not necessarily. ;)

    Sarah-
    Haha, yeah, I know I’m only like 1/4 of the way through, and that’s just the first draft! Sigh. This book business is long and slow…

    Samantha-
    Aw, thank you! I’ll hop on over. :)

  8. Oh Kristan, are you up there in my head? I feel all of those things too. I’m very insecure about my writing and when I let my critique partners read it, sometimes I wonder if they are just humoring me. I guess one will never fully be satisfied with their own work. :)

    And I love revising! My problem is that I revise too much before i’ve even finished so it takes forever to get anything done!

    Good luck with you WIP! Now get back to work!

  9. When I used to work at as a lecturer my colleague told me that what she and I both felt (that we didn’t really have the right to call ourselves academics – just like I used to think I didn’t have the right to call myself a writer) had an actual name – Impostor Syndrome – and I just discovered it’s even in Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome so it must be true!

    Totally wrongly, I think, I let myself tell people I was a writer after I started making an income from it (from my freelance/travel stuff – not fiction unfortunately …). Really I was a writer long before that but financially justifying it seemed to help me get over the impostor thing. But like I said that’s so wrong!! Kristan, anyway, you are DEFINITELY a writer, much more so than me I think. Oh and good work on the WIP, sounds like it’s going well!
    .-= • Recent post by Amanda Kendle: Becoming A Fiction Writer readers: Delurk yourselves! =-.

  10. Kimberly-
    I think we all feel that way (“are they just humoring me?”) and I also think you’re right, we’ll never be fully satisfied with our own work. But maybe that’s not a bad thing, if we can’t fight against it enough to continue writing. Because that pushes us to keep getting better, you know? :)

    Amanda-
    Imposter Syndrome, hmm. If it’s on Wikipedia, it’s legit!

    PSSH, no comparisons here! We’ve both worked on multiple mss, and we’ve both been paid for our writing. But then, we both have more we want to achieve. Seems pretty on par to me. :)

  11. Jon

    Agreed with Amanda. You ARE a writer, no matter what and you always will be. For some of us, it’s impossible to put the pen down (or stop tapping the keyboard), even if we want to…
    .-= • Recent post by Jon: Quickie Review: Greenberg =-.

  12. I liked this post a lot Kristan. I have finally, after two months of moving and life getting in the way, started back on my writing project. And you are right. I do it for me.
    .-= • Recent post by Pseudo: Contest =-.

  13. Hey, I found you through the lovely Brittney – and I had to stop by and say hello! This was a really great post, and I feel the same way a lot of the time – slightly uncomfortable calling myself a “writer” or a “graphic designer” though I have a little bit to my name, I never went to school for journalism or design, so it doesn’t feel as real as I think it should… but you’re totally right, the more you say it and take action to achieve it and BELIEVE it, the more real it becomes. Good for you, miss :)
    .-= • Recent post by Emily Jane: A call, an answer, and to new beginnings =-.

  14. Pseudo-
    Yay, I’m glad to hear that!

    Emily Jane-
    Don’t you wonder when it *will* feel real? Hehe, I definitely do. Anyway, thanks for popping in! You seem great, based on what I saw at your blog. :)

  15. Kristan,
    I totally relate to this post. I read somewhere that talking about your WIP is like telling someone about a new boyfriend and you just want to share. But resist the urge. However, I tried not to share and failed. When people ask me what I’m up to – I want to be honest. I’ve found that my family and friends are so supportive and are cheering for me in this very difficult process. It makes me not want to let them down, or myself, by plugging away and making it the best it can be.

    Love your blog by the way. You’re on my blog roll. :=)
    .-= • Recent post by TL Sumner: Book Review – The Secret Year =-.

  16. I think you are totally right! It is funny how we can write so much and then still dream of being a “writer.” What really legitimatizes the title? It is a wonder to think about. Thank you.

    Best,

    Hannah Katy

  17. TL-
    Aw, thank you, girl! I was digging what I saw over at your blog too. :)

    And yeah, supportive friends & family are the best. Lol to the boyfriend analogy. I can totally understand that.

    Hannah Katy-
    Exactly. I think what legitimizes it is different for everyone… More on that soon! ;D

  18. I can’t wait to revise my manuscript! That will mean I finished the damn first draft!
    .-= • Recent post by Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist: Writing is sort of boring =-.

  19. HAHA I know, seriously!

  20. I had a writing professor who admonished us for being embarrassed to call ourselves writers. “You write. You’re writers,” she said, and I guess because I was in an MFA program, I believed her and started telling people I was a writer. (And yet it annoys me a little when someone who has written nothing more than the first draft of one short story refers to himself as a “writer.”) It takes a level of commitment, and you have definitely got that! Congrats on your word count goal, and keep going!

  21. Yeah, I agree that right now it can be frustrating when there’s nothing to set me apart from all the other “aspiring writers” who don’t actually do anything to work towards that goal. Just one more reason I am so looking forward to being an author vs. a writer.

    That said, all writers start somewhere, right? :P

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