So Ashley didn’t write today because he’s off on a wine tasting tour. As I type this he’s pouring wine, and if he’s anything like me while on tour he’ll be befriending the people at the cheese stand and swapping Syrah for Cornish stilton.
But I’m not like Ashley, and it doesn’t take quite as much wine or whimsy for me not to write.
“She wants to write, really write someday. But she is not fully formed. So she does not write. Not really. Unless attempting to live is a form of attempting to write.”
That’s a quote by author Kate Zambreno, from her novel Green Girl.
It’s also a pretty accurate description of my own approach to writing. I didn’t write today because I didn’t feel confident enough to do proper job.
Impostor syndrome was coined by clinical psychologists Dr Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978. It almost exclusively affects women (although non-binary people and men who are marginalised experience it too, thanks patriarchy) and can be defined as one’s inability to internalise their accomplishments, paired with a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. It’s the crippling belief that our successes are the product of luck rather than talent.
I didn’t write today because the voice in my head told me I’m too amateur to even try (a voice echoed by decades of internalised inferiority courtesy of our mainstream media and, you guessed it, the bloody patriarchy). But I realise this is a blog about empowering creatives, recognising the hypocrisies that undermine us, and overcoming the things that squelch us.
The reasons we feel like impostors doomed to mediocrity are deeply embedded in society and probably won’t change overnight (but if they did I’m sure it wouldn’t be me who did it and would be somebody much cleverer and more successful…). Sod it! Write anyway. Write because you need to.
Even the undeniably talented Maya Angelou once said “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”
You’re clearly not alone, so get on with it. Just imagine if Maya Angelou had waited until she felt adequate – we’d all be worse off because she’s fab and a gift to the world.
Which brings me to my final point really – support one another in our endeavours to live creative lives. If you read something wonderful, don’t let your first thoughts be “I could never be as talented/insightful/witty/successful”. Appreciate the art, let it move you, be inspired, and that inner voice will quieten. Do your very best not to let self doubt be the reason you don’t write today.
Nobody really knows what they’re doing anyway.