I Accidentally Created An Alter Ego to Help Me Stay Positive About My Writing Struggles

Readers, meet Greg.

I can pretty much guarantee that exactly one person on this planet remembers my evil twin Greg, and that one person is — yep, you guessed it — me.

Back in 2009, I pretty much used this blog to not only talk about my writing life and provide some form of public accountability for myself, but also to — and I’m being completely open and honest here — completely mess around and find my “voice” as an aspiring writer.

This involved plenty of weird things, which you can still technically find here if you go all the way back to the beginning of this blog in the archives. (I’m not sure if you actually can, but I can, and these posts are still very much public, and I am very much not ashamed of them.)

One of the very strange — but surprisingly extremely effective — products of this time in my blogging history was the creation of Greg.

Greg was my alter ego — I called him my Evil Twin. Greg tended to show up, often in the middle of blog posts, and give negative, mean-spirited, or bad writing or life advice to anyone who happened to be reading. Sometimes he would even “post on the blog without my permission” as what I thought at the time was an oh so clever way to showcase what not to think or believe about writing.

I would then usually have to “step in” to correct or walk back on whatever awful things Greg had told my two and a half readers (I really missed these inside jokes, especially since I’m the only one who gets them … cue sad tiny violin). “Sorry about that,” I would write. “That wasn’t me. That was my evil twin, Greg. He’s the worst.”

Eventually I grew out of that bit and moved on — I also grew up; keep in mind I was definitely 16 when I started this blog and am fully aware there are some posts out there that were over-dramatic to the point I probably should go back and remove them, but won’t.

It’s not that I’m fully serious about writing on this blog all the time. I appreciate the jokes. This is a tough business and sometimes you need some lighthearted prompts to get you through the day.

I just fell out of love with the idea of using an “evil twin” to tell my readers what wasn’t working with their writing mindsets or actions. I progressed into just telling you, in a much more no-nonsense manner, that making excuses is silly and bad writing advice is unacceptable.

There are days I really miss Greg, though. I mean, I don’t miss him completely taking over my blog and saying awful things about writing and writers and the like. But the more I think about it, the more I realize how much of an impact on my own journey as a writer this “persona” actually had on me.

Even though I didn’t do it on purpose, in creating Greg I also simultaneously created a unique way for me to look at my problems and struggles as a writer and figure out what to do about them. Greg was a negative, doubtful, overly skeptical being. He did not believe writers had free will to do things as they pleased, or that anyone could be a successful writer as long as they worked hard for it. He believed in all the things I didn’t — doing only what all the experts said, and giving in to excuses, and so much more.

Through Greg, I accidentally learned what my values as a writer and as a blogger truly were. Through a completely unintentional medium — one that completely started out as a joke quite literally between me and myself — I came to understand the messages I wanted to send about writing, what writing truly meant to me as both a hobby and a profession, and the tone with which I wanted to address these things when speaking to other writers.

Weirdly, it’s because of Greg — my evil twin — that this blog has become what it is today. So if you’re a fan of what I’m doing here and how my thoughts and suggestions are presented in posts, you can thank him. Except don’t. His ego doesn’t need any boosting.

I never would have expected an imaginary person to completely change my life. But then again, I do spend half my writing time writing fiction, and that’s kind of what happens when you make up a bunch of people and let them tell a story.

What’s even cooler about all this is that seeing the negative side of writing and personifying it actually forced me to look at the other extreme — the fully positive end of the spectrum. Where Greg was the epitome of darkness in a world not built with the writer in mind, suddenly I became a beacon of light. I needed that in my life at the time. And it turned out other people needed it too.

Other writers needed to hear that their words matter.

Other writers needed to be reminded that just because writing is hard does not mean it isn’t worth it.

Other writers — at least I hope — found comfort in knowing that despite their many daily struggles as varying types of aspiring creators, they were not alone. At the very least, I was with them, going through the same things they were, but also cheering them on at the same time.

I am so grateful to still be able to provide any positive energy I can for you as you move along down this tough and unpredictable road. I honestly don’t know if I would still be updating this blog every day — if I would still even be writing at all — if I didn’t get the chance to reach out to other writers every day and give them the words of encouragement they might need to keep moving forward.

And now, I do it all without my evil twin.

In growing, we learn the various elements that make up who we are. There are days I can’t detect any of the light inside me. But because of you all, I know it’s there.

Keep writing. Keep being awesome. We’re in this together, and I am so glad you are here.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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