Last month at my NHRWA meeting, one of my uber-talented and wonderful writing chaptermates spoke a phrase I had never heard before: Imposter Syndrome. She gave me a very good definition of the word, but when I got home I decided to delve a little more into the meaning. Here’s the best explanation I found of it:
“Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters‘ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.” ~My 2008 Harvard Business Review
That kinda sounds like very writer I know.
I’m plagued with doubts about my writing Every Single Day of my life. Does that mean I have I.S.?
I worry that my next book will be trash, my editor will have me completely rewrite it, the public will hate it – and me – and I’ll have to go out and get a job cleaning floors at night in office buildings to make ends meet ( not that there’s anything wrong with that!!) Does that mean I have I.S.?
When I read a less than flattering review of one of my books ( and by less than flattering I mean a 1 on Goodreads and Amazon!!) I think : this is it. I’m done for. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. No one will read this book now. Does that mean I have I.S.?
The moment I read something back I’ve written and think, “this sucks wind so bad, it’s a hurricane of a mess!” I start to sweat, my heart rate goes tachycardic, and I get a sick, vomit-worthy sensation swell up in my throat. Does this mean I have I.S.?
No. Emphatically no. I KNOW I am a decent writer. I may never win any major writing awards, or have a million seller, but that’s okay. I’ve said this before but it needs to be repeated here: Even if I’d never had any book of mine published, I still would have kept writing because I love doing it so much. I didn’t need accolades, royalties ( not that they are necessarily a bad thing!) or good reviews to validate that I AM A WRITER.
This, I think, is the difference between thinking you might have I.S. and actually having it. My sense of self worth, my idea of success, my feelings of value, are not tied up in whether or not the book reading world knows my name, buys my books, or clamors to retweet anything I’ve put on Social Media. What it adds up to is that – in my very humble opinion – I have a strong, well defined, and productive EGO. And I’m not talking about the posturing, self important, look-at-me-and-no-one-else part of an Ego. I mean, simply, I know my worth, am okay with it, and can hold my head up high.
Okay, peeps, here’s my writing PSA for the day: STOP THINKING YOU ARE AN IMPOSTER AT THIS WHOLE WRITING THING. You write, ergo ( and don’t I just love being able to use that word!!) YOU ARE A WRITER!!!
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6 responses to “Imposter syndrome….”
Thank you for that.
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Great post, Peggy. And yes, that sounds like almost every writer I know. I think the real imposters are the ones who think they know it all before they know enough. Or something like that. I like your quotes.
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Good stuff, Peggy! I wish I was where you are…but I think I have a way to go! Working on it….
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