There tends to be two thoughts when the term “imposter syndrome” comes up. The first is that every writer, or any creator for that matter, suffers from it. The second is that you’ve never heard of imposter syndrome and as such you’re struggling to identify the feeling. In both cases, imposter syndrome does have an effect on the creator.
What is imposter syndrome? Simple put, it the feeling you don’t belong, particularly when it comes to creative content. For writers, it can be described as the feeling that you are not a successful author and may never be. As it aptly named, it is the feeling that you are an imposter among every other writer. It is like a fucked up game of Among Us, were you’re the only one playing in your mind.
I suffer from it in a just about everything I do, both creative and in my regular job. And no amount of knowing that everyone else suffers from it changes the feeling that I am really an imposter. I understand that what I am feeling is normal and I understand others feel that way too, but I just can’t help but let it bog me down.
I wish I had some great post on the 10 things that you can do to combat imposter syndrome and move past it. But I really don’t. When it hits it can be really hard to fight the desire to quit. In some cases I have done just that, or gone on hiatus.
It happened to me last week while streaming a game I absolutely love. I just felt like I was nobody and quit my stream early. And to be honest, I’ve not really recovered from it. Overall, I have been thinking of quitting my live streaming activities. And while that is live streaming, and not writing, it is strongly echoed in my writing career.
What I can say is that while I don’t have a long list of ways to combat Imposter Syndrome. I do have some positive things that come from recognizing that it exists and that it is normal. I think these have helped me from making drastic decisions while under this influence.
The first thing I do is to acknowledge that what I am feeling. I also acknowledge that this is not a feeling based on facts, but instead on overthinking. This allows me the chance to recognize what I am doing to myself and take pause to think about other things.
So once I know that I am dealing with Imposter Syndrome I can take pause on making any decisions. This is huge in keeping me from making the wrong choices that I could regret later. Because, especially when it come to quitting, it can be difficult to undo the choice.
It also keeps me from going down the rabbit hole of despair. Which is a good thing to help keep in the right mental state and pressing on. It allows me to continue to do my writing even while I feel like I may be an imposter hack. As long as I am getting words on paper, I am doing something right.
Finally, I take a moment to recognize what tossed me into the mental failure mode. This helps me to prevent the things the typically cast doubt in my mind. For writing, this can often be looking at my sales numbers or reviews. Sometimes it comes on from reading a great novel that leaves me thinking that I could never write like them. And I often feel that way after leaving a convention where I was surrounded by great people.
Now some people will say that you should avoid the triggers of your imposter syndrome. But that isn’t always practical or wise. I love attending conventions and I can’t imagine not going to them. I think reviews are great and should read them. And you need to know your sales number for tax season. There is no way I am giving up reading.
But what I can do is recognize that this feeling is coming and know what that will do to me. And when I expect it I can be ready to handle it. And that has helped a lot.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on handling imposter syndrome, but I want you to know you are not alone in feeling it. It is normal to feel this way. And most all, you are not an imposter.