I’ve been seeing the phrase ‘impostor’s syndrome’ everywhere recently and I decided to speak my mind on the matter. When you say “I am a writer”, do you feel like a fraud? Or: are you afraid that others will ‘discover’ your lack of talent? If yes, then this article is for you.
Let me tell you a story from my life: as a martial art adept, I would never dare to wear a black belt unless I earned it. Even the karate gi (the famous “karate pyjama”) should be earned. Nobody shows in the dojo for their first training wearing a karate gi; you get it later, when you train strenously enough to tear your own clothes during a fight.
If you have impostor’s syndrome as a writer it’s because you are calling yourself something that you don’t believe you are. It might be because your idea of being a writer means achieving goals that are out of your reach for the moment. For example – many writers won’t call themselves writers because they haven’t found the idea for their first book, or they haven’t published yet. I feel you. I’ve been there.
How to resolve it?
It’s very easy! Start calling yourself what you believe you are for the moment, and keep working for your next goal.
Confucius said that words should correspond to reality. If you have just started your writing journey, call yourself an “aspiring writer“. If you have finished your book but you haven’t published, call yourself an “unpublished writer“. If you have pubished a book which turned out to be a flop, but you keep working on another one, you haven’t failed – you are “focusing on creating something better“. If you are self publishing, it doesn’t mean that you are a talentless fraud (PS: read here why traditional publishers reject decent books!) – it means that you are an “author enterpreneur” (I really love this term crafted by Joanna Penn).
Sometimes impostor’s syndrome may have a lot to do with the lifestyle you are living. For example, I didn’t truly feel like a writer until I started dedicating it most of my free time. I felt that I would be a true writer only if I treated it as my full time job. And this is what I do, even though I have other things in my life.
Answer for yourself these three questions:
- What are the prerequisites for you to really feel you deserve to be called a writer?
- What kind of writer do you feel you are and what kind of writer do you want to be? (E.g. “I am a blogger but I want to have written a book”; “I am an unpublished writer but I want to receive a literary award”, “I am an author enterpreneur and I want to become a prolific author” etc.)
- How can you close the gap between being what you are right now and becoming what you want to be?
I’ve never been a closeted writer; as soon as I felt the inner need to write, I proclaimed it to the world and never stepped away from that. Which didn’t mean I didn’t struggle with impostor’s syndrome. I worried obsessively whether I had talent or not. Then, one day, I decided that it didn’t matter. What mattered was how much I wanted to do it.
If you are writing earnestly and planning to bring your craft to the world – you are undoubtly a writer. There are no “but”s. Choose the right adjective if it makes you feel less like an impostor and stop worrying!
And last, but not least: the writer’s self-love check:
- Do you know what is your worth as a writer?
- Do you believe that you deserve what you want?
- Do you gracefully accept compliments?