How many times has your inner voice whispered in your ear, “You’re not a REAL writer, though, are you?”
How often do you downplay your writing skills, despite what people tell you?
How many times have you questioned your writing talent? Too many?
Don’t worry, you’re not the only writer with imposter syndrome. There is a fine line between boasting about how brilliant your storytelling skills are and feeling consumed by self-doubt when it comes to writing and publishing your work.
As an Editor/Proofreader/Self-Publishing Service Provider, I am so lucky to work on some amazing manuscripts and connect with so much raw talent. The writers and debut authors who work with me, however, often struggle to see just how gifted they are at their craft. They disguise their vulnerability and lack of self-belief by explaining that their spelling is rubbish or that their grammar is rusty, and my reply is always the same: ‘Don’t worry, we’ll soon have that fixed.’
Once I’ve fixed their manuscript and sent back a revised version, they nearly always come back with a, ‘What did you think of it?’ or ‘Do you think I should search for an agent?’ or ‘Is it good enough to submit to a traditional publisher?’
The reason they ask is they need confirmation that the little voice in their head is a liar. The little voice which tells them, ‘Your writing’s rubbish… you’ll never make it as an author… pah! I don’t know why you’re bothering, you didn’t even get a good grade for your English at school.’ They are searching for a much-needed confidence boost, most of the time because they have no one to share their writing with or worse, no one to talk to about their writing.
These questions and apologies, are, in fact, a thinly veiled disguise for imposter syndrome. Such wobbles stem from a lack of confidence and the deeply ingrained level of imposter syndrome they try to hide from the outside world; a combination of self-doubt, inadequacy, and feeling like a writing fraud.
And no matter how much I reassure these authors, they still aren’t completely convinced their work – which they’ve spent days, weeks, months and even years of their life creating – is good enough to be published.
This simple little mindset niggle has a lot to answer for, hasn’t it?!
Because that’s all imposter syndrome is, you know, a mindset niggle that needs resetting. So if you’re ready to reset, then keep reading. I have 4 top tips to help you combat imposter syndrome and embrace your writing expertise with confidence.
- Spend time with other writers – as with any challenge we face, things are always a million times worse in our head than in real life. Join a writers’ group or online writers’ forum. Spending time with other writers and creatives will give you a reality check and help you put things in perspective. Chances are you’ll get to know other talented authors who have been consumed by imposter syndrome, too, and you’ll realise that it is actually all in your head.
- Recognise imposter syndrome for what it is – the next time you’re doubting your skills, or editing for the zillionth time, or faffing around before submitting your manuscript to a proofreader, give yourself a reality shake-up. Take a few deep breaths, realise it’s just imposter syndrome running riot in your brain, thank it for keeping your feet on the ground and move on.
- Take a break – it’ so easy to get bogged down particularly if you’re working on a big project. You wade in with the ideas, cheerleaders, pompoms and fireworks at the outset, and then halfway through everything fizzles away into mizzly grey clouds, burst balloons, and big sighs. When this happens, don’t assume this is because you’re rubbish at writing; this is actually a natural part of the book-writing process. So put this project on the backburner for a little while and pick up another instead. Sometimes all you need is a break.
- Don’t give up – keep writing and don’t let imposter syndrome steal your passion for writing. Why? Because you’ve been honing your writing skills for so long now… because when you can’t find time to write you crave that quiet time and space to put pen to paper… because when you’re doing something mind-numbing like emptying the dishwasher, you have all kinds of ideas jump into your head… that’s why you’re a writer, and a good one to boot.
Has imposter syndrome been holding you back?
Are you going to look at it from a fresh perspective?
Share your thoughts and combat ideas in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.
Proofreading, Editing, Self-Publishing Services for UK Independent Authors