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Growing My Confidence As a Writer

After achieving several writing goals including completing a memoir, Elizabeth Jannuzzi pushes imposter syndrome aside and relishes in a newfound confidence.

By Elizabeth Jannuzzi

May 04, 2023

Several years ago, I was at a recovery retreat where most attendees were strangers to me. While enjoying the view on the lodge’s deck, a man approached me and said “Are you a writer?” I thought Oh my god, how can he tell? Do I just exude writer-ly vibes? Do I look like a writer? Can he sense I’m thinking profound thoughts?  

“Yes, yes I am,” I replied standing up a little taller. “How can you tell?” 

“Your sweatshirt,” he said blandly, pointing to the Project Write Now hoodie I wear nonstop.

Apparently, I was not exuding writer-ly vibes that day. But that conversation marked a significant moment for me. I answered his question with just “Yes.” I didn’t add addendums to my response like “Yes, but I’ve never been published …” or “Well, I take a writing class …” or “I try …” Just “Yes, I am a writer.” Hard stop.

Despite that one moment of confidence, imposter syndrome has been my constant companion in my writing journey. Am I a real writer if I don’t write every day? Is my writing crap? Why am I doing this?

But recently, I’ve noticed a shift in my thinking. It’s as if my self-doubts have been pushed aside and I can finally see the view I’ve been trudging towards. I feel, dare I say, confident in my chosen creative pursuit. How does this feeling present? I don’t waiver when I provide feedback on a friend’s essay, my usual fear of “who am I to offer feedback?” gone. When I needed to write an Artist Statement for a residency application, the words come easily to me. I know what I’m creating and why. Sure imposter syndrome still hovers nearby, but it’s no longer sitting right next to me as I type away on my laptop. 

How did this shift happen? I think it was the cumulative effect of having passed through several writing milestones. First, in 2022, I finished a full-length memoir in the Memoir Incubator. I put together a 70,000-word manuscript with a beginning, middle, and end. I mean, I wrote a book, therefore I am a writer, right? Next, I had two submissions accepted for publication. Sometimes a little validation goes a long way. In addition, after seven years of writing classes and workshops, I’m starting to think some of what I’ve learned has sunk in. I have some expertise now on the subject. And finally, the feedback I received on my memoir from my readers in the Book Revision Lab was positive, giving me a boost of confidence. So much so that when an editor of a lit mag offered some feedback on a word choice I made, I felt confident enough to reject her suggestion. 

Will this newfound confidence last? Will imposter syndrome inch closer to me again? Probably. But I’ll try to remember how I felt on the deck that day. “Yes, I am a writer.”         

Elizabeth (Liz) Jannuzzi, Project Write Now’s operations and communications manager is a mother and writer living in New Jersey. Her work has been featured in Pangyrus, Cagibi, and Entropy. She is currently working on a memoir about recovery.