Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

Writers face lots of challenges in the industry – the gatekeepers of traditional publishing or the cost & skill set required to self publish; the sheer volume of books being published alongside theirs, getting their novel out there & seen; learning how to market their work & the royalties that mean most of us have to have another job. BUT all of this can be overcome with research, thought out plans & persistence. Not to mention that these are not issues we all have, some of us are good at marketing, others have a wide skill set for self publishing, others have bigger incomes & can afford the costs – what all of us struggle with at one point or another, is imposter syndrome.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome is not solely related to the writing industry but is prevalent within it. It’s those moments where you doubt your skills & successes so much so that you feel like a fraud surrounded by ‘real writers’. When you write a paragraph that feels like pure genius but when you look at it the next day you think it’s only good for the bin. Imposter Syndrome is feeling inadequate no matter how many things suggest you are anything but.

It’s Not Just You

I myself, & many other writers that I have chatted to about imposter syndrome feel EXACTLY the same way. Not just when we started out, but all the damn time. Almost every day we get a bout of doubt within us. ‘Why am I doing this?’, ‘I’m no good at this, why should I bother?’, ‘No one thinks this is any good, it’s just embarrassing’.

It’s a horrible & sometimes isolating feeling that Sharon L Clark knows plenty about: “Even compliments turn into me questioning that person’s taste/intelligence regarding literature and figure that they and I only like my stuff because we’re too sheltered/stupid to know any better. But then I’m writing again the next day and I honestly am more motivated when I start thinking like that – I will sit down and edit, usually. It’s a horrible cycle and it comes and goes for me and I’m always a wild mixture of proud and mortified when I show my stuff to other people.”

Yolandie Horak, author of the amazing A Study of Ash & Smoke sums it up best: “No critic can tell you how much is wrong with what I’ve written better than I can. It’s so hard for me to promote my own work, and I constantly wonder if it’s even worth it to go to the trouble of creating stuff if it’s never going to meet this unattainable standard I’ve set for myself.”

Ways to Cope

There unfortunately, is no cure for imposter syndrome, nor is there a pill to make the symptoms disappear BUT I do have a couple of little tricks for you to help raise you up when you’re at your lowest.

  • Keep a folder of praise – it can be praise from family, from friends, from people who’ve read your work (either published or not) anything that reminds you of what you’ve done & how people love it. Because I promise, there are people who love your creations.
  • Read articles about imposter syndrome – even the top masters of storytelling suffer from imposter syndrome & let’s not forget misery loves company. It can be a relief to realise that even the best of the best feel exactly the same way as you.
  • Chat to writer friends – get yourself a little group of writer friends. No one will understand your fraudulent feelings better than other writers. Despair together, support one another. It really does help.

Sadly there is no answer, or snap of your fingers to make it all better – but together we can try to tackle it. We all have to at some point.

Do you suffer from imposter syndrome? How do you make yourself feel better? Drop a comment below!

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