Imposter Syndrome is a very common experience, with an estimate that about 70% of people will experience it at least once in their life. It’s when someone feels like a fraud or incompetent at doing something, even though they’re successful at what they’re doing. It can happen when someone gets accepted to a prestigious school, gets a promotion, becomes a parent, or experiences any big life event.
Imposter Syndrome as a writer is tough. Good writing is, for the most part, subjective. Even works by super famous and influential writers — Margaret Atwood, Ernest Hemingway, J.R.R Tolkien, etc. — aren’t liked by everyone. This is why writers, and creative people in general, experience Imposter Syndrome so often. I have experienced several episodes of Imposter Syndrome, all of which have impacted me in different ways.
It Makes Me Hesitate to Share Personal Pieces
Sharing something as personal as my writing is scary. What if I share it and someone laughs and tells me how awful it is, and that I should throw it and myself along with it into a fire (Okay, I’ve never had someone tell me any of that, but still)? There’s this persistent fear that I’ll finally prove just what a fraud I am, and I’ll never be able to redeem myself. It may sound dramatic, but in a field where good is subjective, it’s hard to feel otherwise.
Of course, I have no proof that I am, or ever will be, a failure. The people I have shared my writing with in the past have been kind about it. I had to share a lot of it in college because I was a creative writing major, and there were both critiques and compliments from my classmates. My loved ones have also been kind — though sometimes they forget to tell me if they liked my writing or not. Additionally, everyone here at Bookstr has encouraged me and given me great advice to improve my writing.
I Can’t Try Anything New
In terms of writing — outside of my articles at Bookstr — my primary love is fantasy. All of my ideas for stories and books are primarily in the fantasy genre. As much as I love it, part of me wants to expand into a different genre, or to try something new. But even within fantasy, which I have written for years, I still feel that I’m not good enough; so what makes me think I could successfully do anything new?
People aren’t good at something the first time they attempt it. I know this, and it makes sense. Unfortunately, rationality and logic don’t quite work with Imposter Syndrome. I would still have this feeling that I was only lucky, that I succeeded in trying something new by sheer luck. Then, I’d probably tell myself someone else would have done much better, and that I should leave it to those with experience. Even if I want to expand my writing.
None of My Writing Is Good Enough
I know that comparing myself to other writers, especially super successful ones, is a bad practice. After all, success isn’t limited to only a chosen few. However, it’s so easy to get caught in that trap, and it’s even easier to spiral down. Why even bother if I won’t be able to compare to people who are already successful? I might as well save myself the pain and heartache, right?
I haven’t ever published anything besides Bookstr articles, largely because of this fear. But every time I turn in an article to get edited, I always have this inkling of fear that it’ll suck and I’ll have to rewrite it. Or, perhaps, that the person looking at it will tell me it’s awful, and I should just stop writing. This would never happen, of course, but the fear is still there.
Imposter syndrome is challenging to deal with, and it’s easy to get caught up in it. So far, the only ‘cure’ I’ve found is keep moving forward despite it. It’s hard, for sure, but sometimes, it’s all anyone can do.
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