Am I good enough? Should I be doing this? Will anyone like what I’ve created?
Ahh, Imposter Syndrome. The inner critic dialogue triggered by self-doubt and criticism. We all experience it, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
I recently was asked to speak on a topic near and dear to my heart—writing. Afterwards, I received a lot of authentic, positive praise that went far to reassure my spirit that I did my best. But in addition to the encouraging feedback, I also received some “friendly advice.” Hey, I welcome criticism (to a point) and feedback to help me grow in everything I do, but when this advice comes with a side helping of condescension or snark, it stings. It makes me want to react. It makes me want to say, “Hey, why don’t you try it and see how well you do!”
It’s a normal reaction, and one that anyone who gets out of bed in the morning has experienced. Because, let’s face it, when you go out in the world and do what you do, there’s always someone “who knows how to do it better.” The challenge with this is graciously accepting this sage advice. Especially when it comes from someone who’s never been there before. But for sake of posterity, sanity, goodwill, author brand, and well, friendship, it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. Don’t kick the hornet’s nest, or any other metaphor that aligns with your way of thinking.
In my own words, “Imposter Syndrome” strikes when you step into a world, activity, industry, or space that you may not “feel” aligns with your expertise. You may be new to it, or have dabbled but still it feels novel (pun intended). As a former business owner, professional colleague, and keynote speaker, trust me, I’ve experienced my share of “Imposter Syndrome.” Especially when I enter a new company or walk up on stage in front of hundreds of attendees.
Now, I’ve thrown my hat in the fiction ring. I’m an author. But dare I say that as I stride alongside bestsellers and household names that flank me at book conferences? Yup, that’s “Imposter Syndrome.” Even though there are plenty of authors who are willing to support me on my Author’s Journey, it still feels scary and my inner critic is speaking loud and clear. But I’ve found comfort in many author friends who’ve shared that even though they’re living large on royalties and continually riding the bestseller’s list, they feel the ol’ “Imposter Syndrome” sneak in a time or two.
Here’s what some of my author friends have to say…
Whenever someone shares with me that they are living under the dark cloud of Imposter Syndrome, I recommend that they resurrect their original Why statement. Why did you start writing? Your Why is directly connected to your identity. Remember who you were in the moment that you discovered your Why. Look in the mirror and promise that you will not betray her by casting aside her dreams. She is worthy of all the effort and energy. If you pursue other interests while you focus on writing that simply demonstrates how multifaceted you are, like a diamond. So shine. ~ Barbara Howard, author of “not-so-cozy” mystery stories with diverse characters and a dash of romance and the Finding Home series.
“Who do you think you are?!” I ask myself. I’m proud to have had 10 of my non-fiction books published, but what makes me think I can make the jump to writing novels? It’s a long jump, but I’ven taken many courses, and even taught courses on it, as well as edited fiction for years. I need to give myself permission to accept myself as a novelist, too! Regarding the rejections that come in on my fiction queries, I need to remember what I’ve been told in sales, “some will, some won’t, so what, next!” ~ Tina Schwartz is a multi-genre published author, freelance writer, and Literary Agent.
As a debut author working with an indie press, I’ve been struggling with imposter syndrome. I like to look at it from an outside perspective. If I were speaking to another debut author suffering from imposter syndrome, I would never view them as a fraud! All authors and publishing paths are valid so why should I view myself as any different? Although I’m young and new to publishing, my story matters and deserves a place on the shelf as much as any other. I remind myself often that I’m still learning and the more I write, the more I’m able to sharpen my skills. I don’t know if there’s one solution to getting over imposter syndrome. It might be “fake it until you make it.” But I’ve found that talking with other debuts who share the same struggles as me has helped significantly. We’re all in this together. ~ Sierra Isley is a young adult author with her debut novel, a young adult romance, In the Ring coming out in September, 2023.
One thing rings true, there’s levity that comes from soul bearing. I shared my own experiences with Imposter Syndrome in my interview on Be Moving Forward Podcast and the positive feedback was heartwarming. Listen here..
I started this Author’s Journey column because I love to know how people really feel rather than what they post online. Breaking through the “life is perfect and easy” façade is what the Author’s Journey is all about. It’s about sharing the raw truth, the grit in the fight, and yes, the scary uncertainty of putting your work out there for the world to see.
A huge thank you to my author friends who are willing to come alongside and share their experiences. And a big thank you to readers who love reading and writing too! We’re a team. We’re in this together.
No “Imposters” here!