For the last year, I have been living a double life.
No, I am not robbing banks across Texas or singing cabaret in a Berlin nightclub.
My double life is that I am a mild-mannered career coach by day and a writer at night. By the light of the moon, I pull out my laptop and play with my fictional friends in my invisible sandbox. I have written the drafts of three novels to date with a fourth almost finished.
I haven’t shown them to anyone. Even when asked, I murmur that “it’s like Outlander with vampires” and then frantically change the subject. I keep saying that I am an aspiring writer, a hobbyist, or that its just a little story… I have written over 330,000+ words in the last year. This little story has gotten out of hand!
This isn’t just a confession of my double life. It’s a confession that I have been a hypocrite.
I tell my clients so often to proclaim themselves what they are that I might as well have a shirt that says ‘name and claim.’ If I have a client call themselves a junior, I virtually shake them through the computer. Stop dismissing yourself, I say, your work is better than that!
Eeep, cue the hypocrisy. The doctor hasn’t been taking her own medicine.
I have 100% faith in myself as a career coach because I have helped thousands of people change careers, find jobs, and design more aligned work lives. In my nonprofit work, I have triaged cases that other career coaches turn away from. My clients have run the gauntlet from homeless people to business development executives. It makes it easy for me to bang that “I am a fab career coach” drum.
Fiction writing, however… I turn into a squirrelly fresher who can’t make eye contact. I received a scholarship to a writing residency in September and I am terrified! I will have to sit with writers and not run out yelling that there was a terrible mistake. Someone might actually have to read my scribblings!
Every morning, I journal and I have been writing affirmations about how I am a writer. I force myself to not put a modifier like unpublished or aspiring or amateur. The first time that I wrote that simple affirmation- ‘I am a writer’- it was so hard!
I used to be a very confident writer until my first year in a creative writing program at university. Cliched as this sounds, I let a professor’s criticism over my preferred subject matter (sci-fi/fantasy) and my work scare me out of the program and then I didn’t write fiction again for nearly 10 years. It’s been a long road to regain this budding faith and it will be longer still before I will be as confident as I was as a young lass. However, confidence and faith are like any other muscle. You can strengthen them!
What builds confidence?
There are many techniques and I prefer cognitive behavioral therapy tactics to reprogram the brain and thought processes. However, the most impactful way to gain faith in yourself is by action. You need to prove to yourself that you are serious.
Talk is cheap, after all. Action is the real currency.
After a year of action, building the writing habit, and taking my paperback writer dreams seriously, I have the confidence now to claim what I am.
This blog post is to say that I am not going to be living a double life anymore. I am stepping out of my comfort zone to say- I am a writer!
I am naming what I am and claiming the title for myself.