It’s called Imposter Syndrome. The feeling that you’re not actually good at what you do, and you’re going to be found out. Even the most expert professionals can have this feeling, and writers aren’t exempt.
It’s easy to pick up your favorite novel and believe that the author must have sat down with their coffee one morning and typed in a fit of impassioned genius. No regrets. They finish and sit back, basking in the glory of their magnificent creation.
However, anyone who has somehow managed to earn money for the writing they do will tell you their process isn’t actually so different than that of the college student writing a critical essay for that one hardnosed professor: a lot of self doubt, hope, and drowsy confusion.
I identify as a writer no matter which bathroom I use. This is probably because I read a book once by some guy PhD that said anyone could be a writer. “Whisper it to yourself right now,” he said. So I did. Now when people come around asking what I do I whisper dramatically, “ I’m†a†writer†.” I just can’t seem to shake that whispering bit.
Of course you can’t just say—or dramatically whisper— something like that without people assuming you are the wellspring of all things writerly, especially grammar. I would conceive of an esoteric jest in regards to my scanty competency in the usage of English linguistics… but I’m still working out phrases and clauses.
If you’re like me, full of nice dreams but only the pale imitation of an accomplished writer, take a moment to google the lives and writing processes of your favorite authors. You’ll see that selfdoubt is king on their todo list: right before and after “Write the next great American novel.” So the next time you feel like the writing muse just pushed you off your bike and ran away with your ex, remember that it’s normal. Not fun, just normal. Keep admiring the verse and prose of the professionals. Embrace Imposter Syndrome and just write.