Did you know there are two spellings: impostor and imposter. I had to go look it up for this post.
First, what is impostor syndrome?
It’s feeling like you’re not up to the task, not good enough. That you lack the ability, the credentials or something essential to write what you want to write. Even worse, you’re afraid you’ll be found out.
The thing to understand is that every writer has it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just started or if you’ve published dozens of books. We all feel this way. The good news is, you’re not alone.
Confidence is the balm for imposter syndrome.
How do you gain confidence as a writer?
Ways to build confidence as a writer:
- Protect Your Practice. You’ve got to write consistently. Regular practice builds your skills. Make space to practice and treat it as a sacred time, it’s not an appointment you break.
- Celebrate Your Achievements. Keep notes about where you are, what you’re learning, the challenges you’re facing and what you’re doing about them. Reflecting on these later are a great way to see how far you’ve come. Look at how you’ve improved! Confidence inspiring.
- Mentor and Share Your Knowledge. You can teach or mentor someone who is just a few steps behind in their journey. The contrast between their questions and your knowledge is where you’ll find confidence.
Riding the Inner Critic Roller Coaster
I’m on the inner critic roller coaster and want off. Maybe.
But the ride won’t stop. It can’t because life doesn’t work like that.
And right now, it’s highest highs followed by lowest lows. All narrated with a running commentary with my inner critic pointing out my failings and frailties. Imposter syndrome gone wild.
This is a side effect of publishing, a book, an essay, a video.
It doesn’t matter what you create and ship. At first you’re elated to have done the thing, then you watch feedback and see a few results. That’s the high.
Then a some time passes and it gets quieter. And you’re sure it’s doomed. After all that’s what your inner critic says, probably because of something you did in third grade. That’s the low.
And in between the highs and lows you hang on for dear life. Head spinning, climbing and dropping, going through the twists and turns because nothing is a straight line.
I’m impatient, wishing for a straight line, for easy results but that would be a different ride, a different journey.
This roller coaster ride is the discomfort of being a creator and I don’t want to be anywhere else.
Writing is hard enough by itself and then there’s the fear. It shows up as impostor syndrome and can freeze you in place.
Fear has a lot of sneaky ways of keeping you from writing. Sometimes you write and fear keeps you from publishing or sharing your words. Sometimes it keeps you from beginning or it derails you in the middle.
Fear of Failure
This one stops you before you even start. Fear says, “It’s no good, you’ll never do it well enough, you might as well stop now.”
Fear of Being Seen
Stops you from publishing or sharing your work, but is really perfectionism in disguise. Fear says, “It’s not perfect, you can make it better, edit some more, polish some more. It’s not ready yet.”
Fear of Being Misunderstood
Writing is personal and not everyone will get you and your perspective or your creativity. Fear says, “People aren’t going to get this, so why not sit on these words instead. It’s safer.”
Fear of Not Belonging
Writing is like a secret club. To belong, you write. Fear says, “You’re not a “real” writer, who are you to put this out there? You don’t even know what you’re doing.”
Fear of Being Judged
It’s unavoidable, all writers are judged by their readers, their friends, their family. But really, it goes with the territory. Fear says, “You can’t share this with anyone. What will your family think? What will your friends think?”
The antidote to fear is to begin the work anyway. And then having written to publish and share.
Courageous and brave, trusting that your muse has given you something to say that’s worth saying and worth reading.