How to Tackle Impostor Syndrome as a Writer

Tackling Impostor syndrome

Impostor Syndrome can be found in pretty much every field, but I’ve noticed it seems particularly common in writers.

In case you’ve never heard of impostor syndrome before, it’s essentially when you feel like a fraud in any particular aspect of your life. According to the article linked above, it typically surfaces after a major accomplishment. However, with writing, it seems like it can occur at almost any point in a writer’s journey. For example, I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard “I’m not a real writer” from someone unpublished. I’m not a psychologist or an expert in imposter syndrome, but that certainly sounds like a form of it to me!

Now, I’ll be the first to admit my direct experience with impostor syndrome is minimal, but that’s largely because I developed a handful of tips and tricks to keep imposter syndrome at bay.

Today, I’m going to share those tips with you! I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.

Remember all the time you spent learning to get to where you are

It’s likely that you didn’t just wake up one day having never read a book and decide to write one. In fact, you’ve probably read a lot. You also may have read craft books or blog posts like this one. Perhaps you’ve taken classes or even went as far as getting an MFA. Maybe you’ve only done a few of these things. Maybe you have plans to do more. Regardless, you can’t possibly be an imposter if you are working to improve yourself and your writing. Fake people don’t do that. You are legit and you are working and learning and it all counts. Everything you’ve done has helped you get to where you are and everything you will do will help you get farther.

Everyone who writes is a real writer

A writer is someone who writes. End of story. That is the very definition of a writer. If you write, you are a real writer. You might not be a professional writer, or you might be an unpaid writer, but you are very much real. So if you’re doubting how “real” of a writer you are, come back to what it truly means to be a writer in the first place. If you write, you fit the definition.

You are working really hard!

One symptom of impostor syndrome is feeling like you “got lucky” when something good happens to you. I can assure you, any success you have is not luck. You might be lucky to find the right people to work with or lucky to find helpful critique partners, but success is not luck. Success is hard work. And I have not met a writer who isn’t working really hard. Even if you’re working slowly, you are still working hard! You earn any and all success you get. And if you haven’t met your goals yet, know that when you do, you will have earned that too. If it helps, sit down now and make a list of everything you’ve overcome so far in your writing life. Count everything from a particularly challenging scene you ironed out, to every draft you completed, to every book that felt finished enough to submit, to people or time constraints that have threatened to hold you back. Keep adding to it. And if you ever catch yourself feeling like an imposter, pull your list out and look at what you’ve done. Imposters don’t overcome like that.

No one’s writing process looks a certain way

I think another way writers can feel “fake” is by looking at another writer’s process or progress and realizing their process looks nothing like that. Some might then believe this means their doing this wrong. But no two writers’ processes are going to look the same. There is no right way to write. Even on this site, I share ideas and tips that have helped me, because I learned what works for me by reading a wide range of techniques other writers employ, but you are not wrong if you write differently than me or any other writer. You are not an impostor if your writing process looks like nothing you’ve ever come across. In fact, I would argue this makes you the most authentic writer you can be, which is far from being a fraud.

I hope this helps you battle impostor syndrome!

Now it’s your turn: How do you battle impostor syndrome? Is there any particular aspect you struggle with? Tell me about it in the comments and maybe we can all help each other out!

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