Until you actually believe you are a writer, you’re only kidding yourself.
Yesterday, I was bold enough to declare my identity as a writer. I was brash enough to say that I’ve been a writer for the past 45 years of my life. I insinuated that I was sure of my writerhood, confident in my ability whether or not the world agreed with me.
But do I believe it?
Saying it is one thing, doing it another.
Years ago I was in behavioral therapy for depression. My therapist, a very wise woman, encouraged me to start acting as if I weren’t depressed. At first, she said, it will feel like the biggest lie you’ve ever perpetrated on yourself. You’ll feel fake and uncomfortable.
In time, you will start to believe this trick you’ve been playing on your psyche. What was once a difficult acting job will become like second nature. Eventually you’ll realize that you aren’t acting the role of a happier person, you really are a happier person.
Believing in ourselves as writers requires a similar slight-of-mind trickery. Sending the declaration out into the universe is the first step. Doing something about it another. Here’s today’s challenge from the 15 Habits of Great Writers:
Just so you don’t think this is all esoteric, you’re going to do something radical. You’re going to get up two hours early and write.
If you usually get up at seven, get up at five. If five, then three. You get the idea. Don’t check your email or read blogs. Just write. This is how you know you really believe something. Thinking and talking and tweeting about writing is one thing; actually doing it is another. So today, believe it; tomorrow, do it.
Great writers believe in themselves. And when that crazy self-doubt slips in - when the right words won’t come, when the rejections pour in, when the naysayers say - they shove it all back into the corner where it belongs. Sometimes, they pretend it never existed. Everyday they do things that reinforce that belief in themselves.
So - I’m game if you are. Tomorrow, up at 5:00 a.m. Nothing but writing. And believing.