Writing Frauds

largeSince attending a writing social last Saturday night, something’s been seriously bugging me. Okay, not in the keeping me up at night kind of way. More in the what the hell is wrong with me kind of way. Why can’t I talk to other authors? I’ve brushed it off by calling myself a writerly introvert, which is true, BUT I am not an introvert in general. Actually, talking to total strangers is one of the key components I get paid for at my “real job,” and most of the time I’m pretty effing good at it.

My favorite blog post on Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins is: Swagger in the Age of the Author Brand. Inspired by Kristen Lamb’s blog about bad girls becoming best sellers, Swagger talks about how important it is to market ourselves as (kick-ass) authors in today’s saturated, self-published market.

But it’s hard to do when we don’t feel like kick-ass authors.

quotescover-JPG-57It turns out that feeling like a fraud is a recurring theme among almost ALL authors, especially us newbies. In the comment section of my last post, Jonathan Giles mentioned that at writing events he often feels that someone taped a sign to his shirt that says “fake,” or “loser.” But, it’s not just the newbies that feel like phonies. DM Miller pointed out that Maya Angelou (coincidentally, one of my all time favorite authors) suffered the same affliction. After writing eleven books, she said she still felt like she could be exposed as a fraud at any time.

All of this self-doubt begs the question: What makes a writer . . . a writer? Since my catastrophic endeavor to network with local authors, I’ve given it quite a bit of thought. This is what I’ve come up with:

quotescover-JPG-41A writer is someone, anyone, who writes.

That’s it.

The problem we face with introducing ourselves as writers entirely in our minds. We see the greats: the Maya Angelous, the Agatha Christies, and the Leo Tolstoys, and we wonder how we’ll ever compare. Well, you know what? Many of us aren’t going to achieve that level of grandeur. But that’s okay. Because we’re out there in the trenches. We’re creating something from nothing: putting words on a previously blank page in the hopes of evoking a little emotion, and possibly even a change in perspective in our readers (and sometimes even in ourselves) that never would have transpired if the we, the writers, had never taken the time the sit down and type that shi# out.

Every time we show our work to other people, we’re putting our pride on the line. I’m still learning. I write weird fiction, and I’m a new author finding my way. My prose aren’t perfect, and sometimes I stare at a sentence way too long . . . just trying to figure out where the godforsaken HELL to put the bloody comma.

But I’m still a writer.

Because I’m still writing.


After the attending the Writers’ Guild social, I did what any self-respecting writerly introvert does, and googled the local writers I recognized. Many had blogs just like this one. In no time at all, I was knee deep in short stories and novel excerpts of some of the best writers in Canada. What did I see? Dialogue tags. Adverbs. Run-on sentences. Comma splices. And confidence.

Confidence makes a writer. That, and the ambition to keep going, no matter what.

I’m a published short story author. I’m a paid freelance writer. I am almost finished my own awesomesauce 120,000 word novel.


The only difference between them and me (is) WAS a state of mind. You don’t need a university education to be a writer. You don’t need to be published to be an author. All you need are the kahunas to keep writing, to keep learning and putting yourself out there even when you know you will never EVER be “perfect.” 

And on that note, I better get back to work.


80 thoughts on “Writing Frauds

      • Hi Jenny…oh today…’Erin’ is doing my head in! And while I’m here I’d like to thank you…you may not recall but you were one of the first to follow me back when I started this blogging thing … just as you approached your ‘5000’ I remember the cigar! Because of you Dan albeit reluctantly I sensed followed too…he even ‘likes’ me now and then! And you know what I even ‘like’ him too! I hope I’m still strong enough to lift 120,000 words when I get to read you, some books you just sense best held to read from your hands. Cheers. Eric.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Haha. We’re all in it together. Dan’s been blogging a lot longer than us, but I think you and I started roughly around the same time. It’s been quite a ride, hasn’t it?
          I’m looking forward to a paper copy of your book as well, and hoping when I buy it that it comes with a signature!

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Never give up! As a woman who has had some problems with self-confidence all my life (who hasn’t at some point or another?) I question my right to write and keep going, to feel the physical, mental and emotional effort and time are justified. I’m a super-newbie but I’ve written all my life. Last October I broke out of my own introversion to connect with other writers and it’s been an eye-opener. Not only do they affirm what I need to know for myself, but words such as “kickass” and “badass, fearless writer” have been attributed to me and what I write. The first time I received that kind of feedback I was a little shocked. Who would think my writing and words were so moving? Well, apparently they have moved me or I wouldn’t be here now, and they touch others, many I never know about. You are a writer. I’m a writer. Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

    • “Not only do they affirm what I need to know for myself, but words such as ‘kickass’ and ‘badass, fearless writer’ have been attributed to me and what I write.”
      –Wow Kim, I’m sure that’s a great feeling. You’re obviously doing something right! All of your hard work is paying off. Congratulations!
      Thank you for swinging by and sharing your comment. Much appreciated 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent. Thank you for these words of truth and encouragement! Exactly what I needed to hear today…and probably tomorrow and many others as long as I am writing. I’ll be passing it along to others who could use a bit of this energy, as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hesitate sometimes to call myself a writer, but I shouldn’t. I’ve written almost 700 blog posts over almost 4 years(and commented on a bunch of others), recently got a short story published and have been writing a book for the last 7 years. Just because I don’t get paid doesn’t mean I’m not a writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bravo! We are writers. I salute you, my sister of the pen/word processor, and I look forward to seeing your book in print. And the one after that. And the series that strikes you like a bolt of lightning so that you can’t even sleep.

    Everyone has an audience. I’ve been beaten in competitions by stuff where I honestly thought, “I was beat by that?!”

    But that’s okay. The winning story was to the judges’ taste and mine wasn’t.

    I keep telling myself some people will still want to read fairy tales. Okay, and the odd ghost story. So I keep writing them.

    *plays REO Speedwagon’s Keep Pushing On as a blast from the past and encouragement*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha. Thanks for the encouraging soundtrack, Cathleen.
      I, for one, am an eternal sucker for fairy tales. And the odd ghost story.
      Writing is such a tricky beast, because reader’s tastes are SO very different. All we can do is write what we love, be happy with it, and then seek out an audience who doesn’t think we’re . . . entirely nuts.


  5. All this writing advice can really screw with your head. You need it to start, but once you get going, just write. I really think you allow the advice to lower your writer’s self-esteem. Don’t. Not only will you find those so-called errors on the blogs of these writers you meet, but you’ll also see it in the books on your shelf, in the classics by those incredible authors you look up to. Yes, you’re a writer, not a fraud, and you probably write better than many of these people. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      • You know it, girl! Lol. Actually, to be honest, I don’t throw all the writing rules out the window, and I did study writing, even did it for a living. However, sometimes rules are made to be broken, or bent a little, for effect. And many of these rules are fads. Today, for example, they’re saying no adverbs. Yesterday, adverbs added color. If we over-analyze every single sentence, we’ll drive ourselves crazy, and you, my friend, will never end up publishing. Just go for it, whether you think it’s perfect or not. Once you take the plunge, you’ll realize it was worth it. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    • That’s an interesting perspective.
      I would think looking at your work that way would take a little bit of the pressure off. As restrictive as writing non-fiction might be, by relying on those real events to power your story, you might even be able to write more freely, in that you can write what actually happened. While writing fiction, I find that half of the job is weeding out all the things that didn’t.


  6. Is someone who only writes in a journal that no else ever reads a writer? Yes. I want to scream when I see the notion (no matter how subtle) that being a writer is somehow being tied to being published or worse yet get financially paid for their writing. Especially when talking about creating art of whatever kind, to wrap it up in some kind capitalistic notion of financial outcomes makes me sick to my stomach. I would probably be introverted at such social events because, rightly or wrongly, I would think most of them are consumed with publishing, money, and fame.

    Liked by 4 people

    • It’s tough because writing is so subjective. It’s because of that subjectivity that many writers are constantly on the lookout for validation.
      Being happy with our own work is an amazing thing. That feeling of knowing you created a good story is hard to come by . . . but oh so rewarding when it does.

      Liked by 1 person

      • rewarding indeed. i suppose it becomes a question of first achieving validation from one’s self, that it resonates deep below the conscious surface. at that point no other validation is needed.

        which is not to say that receiving some kind of validation from others afterwards is not itself rewarding.

        for me, i think what defines “a writer” is someone who writes for the Other. That Other can be the facet deep within us (call it soul or psyche or whatever) or it can be a select group of people or published for all the world to possibly see. Those who crank out a Harlequin romance novel are still writers with a specific Other for whom they write.

        Maybe there needs to be a second question if someone claims to be a writer: “what kind of writer are you?” there are many variations and nuances to the answers one could give. yet each writer should at least in their own mind know how he or she would answer it.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Fantastic post Jen. You said what many of us are thinking. I feel the same as you and I have 4 published books. I’m an extrovert, a social interractor, often the life of the party. But not too often will you find me in that crowd talking about my writing. I think you hit the nail on the head, writer’s are always self-doubting themselves and their qualifications to be called writers in comparison to some of the greats.
    Also, can I ask when and where that writer’s guild social was? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. After writing professionally for almost twenty years, I have discovered the same thing: it’s all in our minds. It took me a long time to call myself a writer. I have always been a writer at heart even during the long spans of not writing. I was gathering ideas for my stories from my experiences and creating characters from watching humans and their reactions. When the time came when I could write every day, I had many stories worked out in my head.

    Thank you for sharing this. I hope other writers take it to heart. All writers love to talk with other writers. It is our nature. So talk to other writers and know they want to talk to you.

    You are a writer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment, Diane.
      It’s funny how this is such a recurring theme among established authors, especially people like you, with twenty years under their belt.
      What you pointed out is certainly true, I think. It’s all in our minds.


  9. Well, I am an introvert in all things, so it does make sharing that much harder for me. You hit the nail on the head, as usual. Great post! I needed to hear it. Rah Rah! …Did I put the commas in the right places? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jenny, a very thoughtful post. As always! I’ve never felt fraudulent about my being a writer. But I have felt a kind of embarrassment that non-writers think that writing is such an extraordinary thing for a person to be doing when it’s no more special than being a plumber or a mechanic. We feel like frauds when we believe people are thinking we’re more than we know we really are. So I suppose that beneath everything we’re modest.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Pingback: Author Brand Building | J. A. Allen

  12. Sometimes I have to wonder if what makes a writer a writer is the addiction that writing seems to become for us writers. My writing contributed to the break up of my marriage! Sometimes I get so far into the flow that I forget to eat or drink. Aren’t those symptoms of an addiction?

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’ve never had that fraud feeling when I had my career in Finance. I was educated in Finance and I felt that I belonged. Writing is another story. I was never trained in writing. I write now because it gives expression to my artistic side. There are no grades. Only reviews. Some good. Some bad. Authors don’t know which reviewers are qualified to give their esteemed opinions. We hope the good ones are by the people who have read our whole book and actually understood it, leaving the poor reviews being done by angry and unread people. Since few of us will become best sellers, we will never know how good our writing really is. We have to believer in ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you for the visit, Jenny. This is the first post I’ve read of yours, and I enjoyed your thoughtfulness. I’ll be headed to a writing group today, three of us otherwise seemingly-normal people sitting at a thick-wood table in a forgotten downtown bookstore typing odd things into the ether. Though we should really call it a ‘writers group’. That’s what we are, writers, simply because we write. Thank you for the reminder. Looking forward to reading more of your posts. I hope your day is lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Finding Time to Write | J. A. Allen

  16. Jenny, when a writer, painter, accountant, or anyone in any occupation thinks, “I’m a fake, a fraud” what happens is their confidence crumbles. That’s a serious event because it has been thoroughly documented–as you know I’ve written about this– that self-confidence is the single quality that in any field whatsoever on this earth has been shown time and again and again and again to be more related to success even than talent. (The confident writer rises to the top even though he may not be the most talented.) So that first moment you’re thinking “I’m a phony” you’ve got to put a stop to it and get your confidence back. The number one source of confidence is PAST SUCCESS,. So right away think of the writing successes you’ve had in the past–that story that everyone loved, that contest you won when you were nine–whatever you need to regain confidence. . .

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This actually had me tearing up in gratitude. I’ve been struggling in becoming a writer. I see my blog posts and their single digit visits and know I’m doing it wrong. Obviously I’m not popular enough or not good enough at advertising myself. Getting myself out there. That means I’m not a “real” writer, right?

    I’ve been pretty much home bound for the last couple of years due to medical reasons. It’s forced me to look at my life and how I’m going to help support my family. It’s also forced me to look at the career that I’ve always dreamed of doing yet never dared to, out of that incessant worry that I would fail.

    Your post has told me that even though I’m still developing my voice. Even though I’m still growing. Even though I’m not published or popular, I am a writer.

    I am a writer.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for sharing your story! It never ceases to amaze me how similar the struggles of so many writers are. Doing what you love in spite of a fear of failure and/or lingering doubt and writerly insecurity is nothing short of epically brave. You are about to become a force to be reckoned with and I can’t wait to follow your journey.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Pingback: The Pros and Cons of Writers Conferences | J. A. Allen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s