Writers: Stop What You’re Doing and Read This Right Now

Someone tipped me off to this brilliant essay by Charlie Jane Anders, a chapter in a larger book about being a writer. There are so many good points in here that I knew immediately I should talk about it. If you’re interested in being a writer, there’s a good reason to stop what you’re doing and read this chapter right now:

Nobody is ever going to come along with a magic wand and say “You’re a real writer now.” There are a million different definitions of writing success out there, and almost everyone feels like a failure sometimes. (Constantly, in my case.)

And we’re not really competing with other writers. The first thing people do when they finish reading a book they enjoyed is search for more books like that one. Your biggest competition is always the dreaded “reading slump,” when people just fall out of the habit of reading because they haven’t found the right book for them lately. Anything, or anyone, who gets people reading more is good for all of us.

Nevertheless, imposter syndrome is everywhere, and everyone has their own supposedly ironclad rules for writing—and if you let this stuff get you down, you’ll find it harder to write. And you definitely won’t be able to use writing to find liberation, or to see a better future, if you’re worrying about whether you’re “allowed” to do this, or whether your work matters.

Her chapter is filled with tons of glorious emotional validation. If you’re sitting at a keyboard, wondering if you have what it takes, this chapter is for you.

Imposter Syndrome Is Just Part of Being a Writer