When Do You Not Feel Like a Fraud?

Earlier this year a friend asked me to join a book club, and while the group was introducing themselves one lady said she was a writer. While introducing myself, I said everything but.

I’ve been working on my YA series full-time for three years. Before that, writing professionally as a beauty writer/editor for nine, yet I didn’t feel any of that warranted introducing myself as a writer. Later when it did come up, and the people who I’d just met asked what my book was about—I couldn’t even tell them. I stumbled over my words, gave off a laugh, and changed the topic.

Because I wasn’t published, because I couldn’t say, “This is where you can buy my book”, I felt like it wasn’t real, that I had no right to talk about it, that no one would be interested in hearing about my book, even though these people were.

On the way home, my friend pointed out that I never talk about my writing and that when she has tried to ask me what it’s about, I’ve only ever given her short, detail-less answers. This again comes down to my self-imposed belief that no one really wants to know, that they are just being polite, and it’s not a real book because it isn’t published. The evening made me sad and angry—at myself.

I’ve worked hard on my series, dreaming about it for years, completing four books in the last three, sending the first book to assessors, agents and publishers. I’ve spoken about my books with pride on Instagram, my blog, and Facebook, yet when in the audience of real, live people, people who were actually interested in what they were about and wanted to read them, I froze. I didn’t want to talk about my writing. I felt like a fraud.

I know I’m not the first writer to feel this way, and that others, even published writers, feel the same, but that offered little comfort at the time. I began to ask myself that if all I’ve accomplished doesn’t make me a writer, then what would? When do you not feel like a fraud?

A few years ago, that answer would have been, “When I’m published.” Now I know that that answer should be, “Right now.” The truth is that the only person who feels like I’m a fraud, that I’m not a writer, is me. The people asking to read my book when they heard I spent my days writing didn’t care that it wasn’t published, they didn’t even ask that question. They just asked what it was about and were genuinely interested in hearing my answer.

I spent nine years proudly saying I was a writer because it was my paid profession. As soon as that job finished, I started working for myself, writing my own books. I worked on them as if I was still a full-time writer, keeping my nine to five hours, writing my books instead of putting together articles for someone else. Just because I was no longer getting paid didn’t mean I was suddenly not a writer. If anything, I was a super-writer, achieving more with the whole series than in all the years before when it was just a hobby!

I’ve earned the right to call myself a writer, even if I can’t explain what my books are about when asked, even if I’ve spent two years having my first book rejected, even if I’m still spending my days finding things wrong with what I’ve written, and languishing in self-doubt. I am a writer, not a fraud, and that is the only way to answer that question.

— K.M. Allan

9 thoughts on “When Do You Not Feel Like a Fraud?

  1. I love this post. I think it’s such a very real thing that all unpublished writers do to themselves. I would never introduce myself to someone as a writer. Once, when someone at work asked about my writing, I nearly died of embarrassment and said I couldn’t tell him what the story was about. It’s like we always assume it won’t sound good enough?

    The only time I don’t feel like a fraud is when I freelance, because I get paid for it. Which is silly, because writer’s write and isn’t that what we’re doing, published or not?

    Really relatable post, thank you for sharing your thoughts. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I think you’re right with the whole assuming that it won’t sound good to others. That is usually what trips me up when talking to others about my book too. I always think that they just won’t be interested and I’m wasting their time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. readtolivetowrite

    Wonderful post and very relatable. I do not think I could ever introduce myself as a writer. My family and close friends know I write and have a few published short stories, but to say ‘I am a writer’ to anyone else, not so sure.

    Funny, I would accept anyone no matter their level of expertise if they were to tell me they were a writer. Self-doubt is a powerful thing, one I hope to conquer.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading! I understand what you’re saying, I didn’t even bat an eyelid when the other women in the group said she was a writer. Having said that, she does have some children’s books published. Still, she certainly didn’t question my credentials when I also said I spent my time writing.


  3. L.M. Durand

    I can definitely relate to this! It’s hard to position yourself as a writer when you never published anything. With that said, I also believe we should force ourselves to talk about it because we ARE writers. 😊 can’t wait to read your books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true, we are writers regardless of whether we’ve been published or not. Thanks for reading, I’m hoping that it’ll be sooner rather than later that my books will be available for you to read 😊.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was having an internal monologue about this yesterday! I need to write a little text answering “Who I am?” for an event I’m going to participate and I wondered a lot if I should put somewhere that I am a writer, but then I’m not a real writer and UGH. The doubt. It just seems impossible.

    I hope you can give the right answer to the next person who asks! YES, you are a writer.
    I will be fighting the self-doubt here meanwhile!

    Liked by 1 person

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