Insecurities and bragging about writing talent

chosen one brag

Recently I was talking to a fellow writer, and shortly into our conversation, I got the impression they were showing off about how talented they were. Their stories were, not to brag, really popular. They were told at a young age they were a great writer. Etc.

In that moment, I felt my own insecurity creeping up. They’d reached milestones I hadn’t, and I felt compelled to defend myself and point out how experienced and knowledgeable I was, too. How dare they try to upstage me!

And then I wondered … why am I letting this annoy me so much? Why does it matter how good they are, compared to how good I am? Their achievements as a writer don’t detract from my own, which are different because our experiences have been different. But as writers, we’re often so insecure about how good we are that we constantly compare our skill to other people’s. We beat ourselves up and get defensive.

Here’s the thing. We don’t need to prove to anyone else how good we are. And if we feel we need to show off, it’s because secretly we feel insecure. As my husband pointed out, maybe that’s why this person felt the need to brag in the first place. Maybe they felt they needed to prove how they stack up to me.

Writers don’t need to compete with each other. We don’t need to measure our success against someone else’s. All that matters is our own journey, and how far we’ve come, and how much farther we’re willing to go. Just persisting and writing new things is progress. When it comes down to it, being popular once or writing this amazing thing this one time doesn’t make the other person a better writer. There’s so much more to it than that. And even if they are “better” (who’s judging that, anyway?), that doesn’t mean you or your writing is worth any less.

Sure, we can think someone’s a better writer than us — because they’re published or a bestseller or whatever. The truth is, a lot of writers are. But maybe they’ve also been writing longer, or just got lucky, or they have agents and editors and marketing teams helping them. Or they simply put in a lot more work. Chances are their first draft still stinks.

It’s a waste of time to compare ourselves to other writers. All that leads to is us feeling bad about ourselves. Being a “good” writer isn’t about how many fans you have or books you’ve sold or even whether you have an agent. It’s about how dedicated you are to your own craft — how honest you can be with yourself about where your work needs to improve, and how much energy you’re willing to put in to make it better.

Good writers push themselves. They don’t diminish other writers, because they know the only person they’re really in competition with is themselves.

And you are not your work. If your writing sucks, that doesn’t mean you do.

It just means you haven’t made it better yet.

7 thoughts on “Insecurities and bragging about writing talent

  1. noodlepoet

    I really feel this. I started out pretty arrogant about my writing without a lot of basis in fact. Realizing I wasn’t the best was mortifying, and learning to feel comfortable sharing my writing again has been a journey. It’s so important to maintain a balance between nurturing your ego enough to be able to write in the first place and tempering it when it’s not doing you any favors. Writing can be lonely enough without letting our insecurities isolate us.

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    1. Stephanie Carmichael

      Kaaaaate! πŸ€—

      Yes!! I think we all start out that way, and then imposter syndrome kicks our butts — but simultaneously, our skill increases. We should definitely be proud of ourselves as writers. Even if we’re not where we want to be yet, we deserve to be happy with how far we’ve come. But for sure we need to be mindful that we have a lot of learning to do, at all stages in the process, and that we can learn from the other writers around us.

      This person was super kind and smart and passionate, so I tried to focus on those qualities, rather than my own insecurities that flared up. For sure any suggestion og innate talent makes us envious, but I had never seen their writing, and perseverence is the long game, so why was I letting it get to me?? I think they really wanted to commect and share with me but didn’t realize they were going about it in a one-sided way. We’ve probably all been that person at some time or another without meaning to.

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  2. noodlepoet

    I’ve definitely been that person. Kudos to you for handling it with grace! We all want to impress each other but I hope they take the opportunity to adjust their approach.

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  3. The Eclectic Contrarian

    Very true! I try to be as supportive as possible. Probably too supportive lol… but there’s no sense in tearing others down.

    Great post!

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    1. Stephanie Carmichael

      Haha I can be the same way! πŸ€— And yes, agreed! So much of how we act around other writers comes from how we secretly feel about ourselves. Sometimes we put up walls or put on acts to protect ourselves when really, we’re all struggling and looking for connection.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. iamdreaway

    Loved this! We all sometimes battle with insecurities but we can’t let this stop us! Check out my blog about why caring too much about what people think about you will destroy your life😭

    Like

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