No matter your career or passions, it is not hard to feel like your experience and expertise is a sham. We have all felt like impostors before, which is why the term “impostor syndrome” exists. Writers, in particular, can feel they are not deserving of their success even as they move from being novices to experienced, published professionals.
Why Writers are Prone to Impostor Syndrome
Anyone can feel like an impostor, but writers are especially vulnerable to feel like they don’t belong for a number of reasons.
- Competition: It’s common to feel like someone else who writes in your wheelhouse – be it fiction, commercial copywriting, or some other area – is better than you. In truth, their branding may be what is intimidating you. Identify what about their work scares you. Do they speak boldly about issues you only wish you could raise? Do they cover topics you thought of talking about but in a different light? Rather than looking at how you can improve yourself or make your particular skill work to the best of your abilities, you focus too much on what everyone else is doing.
- Self-Pity: “Poor me, I am not good at this.” Is this a common thought you’ve had? At some point, impostor syndrome develops out of your own insecurities, such as feeling bad for where you are in your journey. Rather than using this as an opportunity to grow, you begin to wallow in your circumstances. Thus, impostor syndrome festers.
- Doubt: The biggest cause of impostor syndrome, doubt lingers in the shadows, sneaking negative thoughts into your head as you work. You start to wonder, “Am I good enough? Will anyone like what I’m writing?”
Tips to Overcoming Impostor Syndrome Once and For All
It can be so hard to banish the negative thoughts from your mind and focus on what’s most important, but here are a few tips to get started.
- No One is Perfect: If you fear the competition, chances are, they have fears as well. Even in their success, other writers have stumbled along the way and have their own set of thoughts causing them to feel like impostors. Recognizing that anyone you view as an adversary also faces the same thoughts you do can affirm your feelings as normal. Even the most prominent, popular writers have human emotions like you.
- Build Your Self Esteem: Embrace your negative thoughts and feelings which bring your mood down and change the internal dialogue. Instead of thinking about the struggles you are having, give yourself a pep talk to break out of the slump. This might not feel valid at first, but thinking positive thoughts will help you to build up a new narrative, one that focuses your energy on what you can accomplish rather than the hurdles in front of you.
- Tap Out of the “What If?” Game: Doubt comes along because we are uncertain of the future, and as humans, we tend to want control over what we cannot conquer. You might be a huge success, or you might fall flat on your face. The future is uncertain, but focusing on the short-term goals will ultimately set you up to accomplish what you set out to do long-term, bringing your more satisfaction than the “What If?” Game will ever provide.
Megan Harris is an experienced writer and editor who understands your fears and what it takes to accomplish your goals. If you are struggling with your work or just want a second pair of eyes to look it over, talk to Megan for help with your project!
[photo credit: scotttmliddell]