Impostor Syndrome can affect anyone in any part of their life, but I am going to focus here on what it means for a writer.
First, what is Impostor Syndrome? It’s the deep down feeling that you aren’t a “real” writer. That what you have done, published, accomplished so far isn’t good enough or important enough. It often comes along with comparing yourself and your work to others, particularly those you perceive as on the same level of experience as you are.
“John Doe has published one book, but it has 50 reviews and people rave about it all the time. I have four books out there and no one even knows about them. He must be so much better than I am. I am a failure. I suck at this.”
Those are the sort of thoughts that go through your head when you are stuck in a bout of Impostor Syndrome. We all go through it at times. It can be difficult to snap out of. It can lead to bouts of “writer’s block”. It can shipwreck your whole writing life. It’s especially hard when you know John Doe of the glowing reviews and reader love isn’t a very good writer. (Oh, and those are out there. If you read a lot, you’ve probably run into a few.)
The thing is, Impostor Syndrome is all in your head. Yeah, I know- that old excuse. But in this case, it really is. I mean, sure, there are a lot of writers out there better than I am. Lots and lots of them. Some of them are famous and well-known. Some aren’t. On the other hand, there are writers who are worse than I am. I don’t say that to brag about my ability. I know I have a lot to learn and much improvement to make. But, really, that same is true for anyone in anything they do. There is always better, and there is always not as good. It’s your own insecurities and inner critic telling you that you are the worst, the absolute most horrible.
So, what do you do? I don’t have an easy answer. Yeah, try to ignore that nagging doubt. Think positive. Do what you do to the best you know how to do it. Sometimes, that’s not enough. But you have to keep trying. Don’t let the doubts drag you down. Remember, we all feel it sometimes. We all have to fight it. A good support system of others who are at times struggling also can help. Maybe a good, stiff drink, too. Push through and see the good in your work.
Impostor Syndrome is real, but it doesn’t have to win.
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