Tag Archives: success

Imposter Syndrome, Part II

 

Last week I wrote a blog post about Imposter Syndrome. I was floored by the responses I received from readers and writers after it went live. For two days my email inbox was crawling with dozens of responses about what I’d written. Most of them were from authors – some of whom I don’t know personally. A few were from readers. All of them thanked me for calling out what it is to feel  like a professional failure, even though you’ve had a modicum of success. I ended that blog piece by saying, “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!!!

Why don’t they get that?

A few authors wrote me that they felt like failures, and not “real” writers,  even though they had sold thousands of books, recently signed new contracts, and generally had well known names in the romance writing community. I was stunned by these revelations. My questions to each of them was : HOW DO YOU DEFINE A REAL WRITER and HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS, because it obviously isn’t in sales, or name recognition. The other question that blew through me was WHY? Why do you feel like a failure? You’ve written a book – some of you several books. They’ve been published – some traditionally, some independently. You’ve received royalties – some a lot, some not so much, but still…money! Readers know your name. Readers await your next book release. Readers WANT to read your work. So, again, WHY do you feel like professional failures?

I’m gonna take a wild guess here to answer that question, and I’m gonna ask for a little patience while I present my case, because some of you are gonna get all hot and bothered ( and not in the good, romance reading way) about what I think.

Since I write romance, that’s the genre I’m going to latch on to here for my discussion. The majority of romance writers are WOMEN. The majority of romance readers are WOMEN. The majority of people who pay cash-money for books of all genres are WOMEN. The majority of people who read for pleasure are WOMEN. The majority of people who make the most money on the planet and are responsible for the majority of decisions made ( and most of them are bad ones!) are ( wait for it ) MEN.

The definition for professional success for most men is very different for woman. Men equate success with money, material possessions, social status, and titles ( CEO, CFO, etc.) Women equate success almost the same way, but where a man will wear his success with pride and boast about it, women, it’s been my experience…will not. They tend to brush off well meaning compliments and try to turn any conversation away from themselves.

Again, this is my opinion based on years of being around very successful MEN and WOMEN and seeing how they react so differently when given praise or asked about their accomplishments. I’ve been in a room filled equally with writers of both sexes and the male voices are usually the loudest, the ones filled with the most hubris, and the ones bragging on their next book sales. The women, when given praise about their own bestsellers and highly anticipated new releases, have typically waved off the compliments, and redirected the praise. When you ask a male writer what he is working on you get chapter, book, verse and verbal diarrhea about the plot and everything else. Women will give you an elevator pitch and then move on to another topic.

Women do not like talking about themselves. Most women, that is. There are a few who drone on incessantly as if they were the only ones on the planet or in the discussion. We all know people like that. But for the majority, women still tend to take a back seat when it comes to broadcasting their successes and this is the reason I think they feel like imposters, frauds, and are faking it.

To these wonderful woman I say OWN IT!! 

Own your success. Wear it like a badge of courage for all your hard work.

 

I raised my daughter to be proud of herself – her successes and goal achievements. I raised her to accept her failures, learn from them and grow with them. I raised her with the knowledge she could walk through any door with her head held high, knowing she could make of herself anything she wanted. I thank the gods of everything she is the woman she was always meant to be. She doesn’t brag, but when given a compliment, accepts it, graciously. She doesn’t extol her own virtues and successes, but she doesn’t dismiss them with an embarrassed hand wave when someone mentions them, either. And she is forever lifting others up both verbally, spiritually, and emotionally.

To all the female writers I know who suffer thru imposter syndrome please know this: YOU ARE NOT AN IMPOSTER and no one has the right to make you feel less than a success.

Own it. Be it. Wear it. YOU ARE A WRITER.

‘Nuff said.

 

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Strong Women

Imposter syndrome….

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

Hmmm.

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!!!

‘Nuff said.

Looking for me? Here I am:

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5 Comments

Filed under Author, branding, Contemporary Romance