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Point of View: The Wonderful, Terrible Act of Writing


I realized long ago that it’s possible to hold two entirely contradictory thoughts in your head at the same time, both of them equally valid.

For instance, I can hear about a fellow author’s success – let’s say they won a contest that I also entered my own book into (and lost). I can be thrilled at their success and sad for my own loss. Both of these things are valid, and one doesn’t negate the other.

That’s how it is with my relationship with writing.

There’s nothing I’d rather do than be writing, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to avoid writing.

This contradiction is rooted in imposter syndrome. I’ve climbed that writing hill many times before, and written stories for which I am very proud. And yet every time I start a new writing project, it feels like the first time I’ve set foot on those slippery, sandy slopes.

Maybe if I’d had a runaway bestseller early in my writing career, it would have been different. I’d feel like I truly was an accomplished writer, and I’d charge up the hill each time with my feet on fire.

Or maybe (and far more likely), it would be even worse, stuck in the fear that my amazing success was a one-time fluke. How could I ever find a way to repeat it again?

That aura of doubt that many of us writers live with every day is also one of the most important tools in an author’s toolbox. It pushes us to keep trying new things, to take risks, to never settle into the belief that we know it all, that our writing is perfect, that we have nothing left to learn.

I’m a skilled writer. I also kinda suck at this whole writing thing. Both of those things are true, and it’s the tension between them that propels my writing forward.

At least it will, once I have the refrigerator properly reorganized. Hey, how come the spice drawer’s not in alphabetical order?

Writers, will you do anything to avoid actually writing? Why do you think that is? And what does it tell you about your own writing process?

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