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From the Blog: Overcoming the Writing “Taste Gap”


Jamie Fuchs has been a dedicated participant in NaNoWriMo for roughly a decade as she strives to bring her ideas to the page. She’s here to discuss how to overcome the doubts and imposter-syndrome mentality that become a barrier when we feel like we don’t fit a particular mold of success:

I’ve spent years comparing my writing to the final polished works of authors with decades of experience under their belt, and the idea that I’ll ever be able to match such feats overwhelms me. I’ve found myself so mentally immobilized by it, I seldom allow myself to begin. If you don’t start, you can’t fail, right?

Ira Glass coined the term “Taste Gap” to explain where this fear comes from — suggesting that it’s in our nature as creative types to have good taste, but our current skill level may not be up to par with that taste. 

Somehow, I’ve convinced myself I’m a writer. I’ve maintained detailed files of my ideas. I’ve read widely on many subjects by a variety of authors, to educate myself and for pleasure. I’ve joined all the Facebook writing groups and shared all the inspirational memes on social media.

My dilemma, however, is clear: I’ve stunted my writerly growth because I’ve failed to actually write.

Not all the time. Sometimes I manage to squeak out an interesting blog post or essay. I’ve even successfully committed to a daily morning pages habit, which has helped me work through some personal challenges.

Overall, though, the consistency hasn’t been there. Too often, I come up with excuses for why I can’t write today. The house isn’t clean. I haven’t spent enough time with my friends or family this week. I’m too tired or too old (maybe both?). And then I beat myself up over it when I succumb to these justifications.

I’m constantly seeking writing advice, and some version of “daily writing habit,” appears in nearly all of it. I’ve wondered to myself what it must mean if I’m failing to achieve this relatively simple suggestion. Do I just not have it in me?

The part of me that clings to my future author status refuses to believe that. I’m more inclined to believe I need to figure out how to move forward. How do I, as an insecure perfectionist, give myself permission to write? What can I do to feel as though my writing is valuable to the world?

Because let’s get real. We all face unique challenges in any creative pursuit. It would be lovely if we could all quit our jobs tomorrow and write for a living, but the fact is we have different priorities and demands on our time and a variety of internal and external hurdles to overcome, including the need to pay our bills.

That’s why writing advice can be dangerous to our psyche if we take it as gospel. While it’s helpful to learn from the masters and evaluate the habits and rituals that work for them, we need to develop our own methods in the end, as no two paths are alike.

I’ve been working on my own methods lately, and it has led to a couple of major insights. First, I’m learning to accept the dreaded Taste Gap. I have these amazing stories in my head, but I haven’t quite figured out how to rip them out of there with any sense of coherency. The idea of the Taste Gap gives me hope, though, because I know I’m not alone. We all start at different levels, and only practice and commitment to our craft will make us better. First, we must allow ourselves to suck.

Second, I’m learning to accept I’m on my own path. Sure, I’d love to publish my work one day, but for now I know writing brings me joy. Through writing, I can connect with people in ways I haven’t been able to via other forms of communication. This is my Why.

And this is where giving myself permission really shines. I’m going to start small and ignore the naysayers because I only need to measure up to my own standards. I may never be as prolific a writer as Stephen King and Brandon Sanderson, or as excellent a storyteller as Neil Gaiman, but I no longer think it matters. If I stay in my own lane, I won’t have time to worry about anyone else surpassing me.

Besides, different doesn’t equal less worthy. It’s what makes this world a delight.


Jamie Fuchs hails from Cincinnati, OH, where she works as an accountant by day and a bartender by night. When she’s not slinging beers and crunching numbers, you’ll find her cooking new recipes, hiking the local trails, nerding out over all the books, or agonizing about her writing. You can visit her at The Wocka Spot or on Medium, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @JamieFangtastic.

Top photo by Tamas Pap on Unsplash.

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