Do you ever start to write and think, “I have no idea what I’m doing—I feel like a fraud!” Or maybe you read another writer’s piece of work and think, “I’ll never be as good a writer as them.” You might be experiencing imposter syndrome. Read on to learn how to overcome imposter syndrome as a writer.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as feeling like you don’t belong, or like you aren’t worthy of your accomplishments. You might be experiencing imposter syndrome if you feel inadequate even though there is a mountain of evidence to the contrary. This article from Time magazine explores some common imposter syndrome patterns.
As an example, you might be scared to call yourself a writer, even if you love writing. You might feel you haven’t done enough to “earn” the title, or that you don’t measure up to others’ standards of what makes a “true writer.”
A writer is not defined by the volume of work they have written or whether they’ve been recognized by a fancy publication. Anyone who loves to write, in any form or capacity, IS A WRITER. This is true even if your writing has never seen the light of day (yet!). And I guarantee that some of your favorite writers have also experienced the same feelings.
Learning how to overcome imposter syndrome as a writer often feels daunting, but there are a few key things you can do to feel more empowered RIGHT NOW.
Try to Identify Where the Feeling is Coming From
As I describe in my post on writer’s block and procrastination, try to identify where your imposter syndrome is originating. Do you have any limiting beliefs that are holding you back, such as fear of failure or not measuring up to someone else’s standards? Has there been an incident in the past that was embarrassing or hurt your confidence in your writing abilities? It is critical that you identify the root cause of your feelings, because only by acknowledging and accepting them can you let them go.
These feelings are not a bad thing. It might seem strange, but your fear and self-doubt is coming from a part of you that is trying to protect you. Think of it like an overprotective parent who straps you in so many pool floaties you can’t even swim! It doesn’t want you to get hurt. Show gratitude for this inner, subconscious self, acknowledge it, and then let the feelings of imposter syndrome go. The only way to grow is to take risks, and sometimes those risks involve making mistakes and getting hurt, but it’s better than staying stuck in one place because you feel paralyzed by fear.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
In a world full of social media posts and the constant bombardment of information, comparing yourself to others, and the writing of others, can sneakily become a major part of your day. It’s important to consider what you consume very carefully. Ask yourself, “How does this content make me feel? Does it inspire and empower me, or does it make me feel bad about myself?” It’s wonderful to follow people and content that light a fire under you, but not at the expense of your mental health.
You might have heard the phrase “Stay in your own lane”—it means focus on your own work and how it brings you, and your audience, joy. No one has the exact same story, experiences or journey that you do, and you will write in a totally unique way, and this is what sets you apart and makes your work special.
Redefine Your Definition of “Success”
Instead of defining success by getting a piece published, maybe your personal definition is writing a certain number of words a day, taking a creative writing course, sharing a piece (or even part of a piece!) with a friend or family member, or joining a local writing club.
Your goals can and should be different from those of others. Success does not have a cookie-cutter definition. Remember that any kind of progress is still progress, and meeting your individual, personalized goals is much more empowering than striving to meet those of someone else. Don’t let your work be dictated by an outside force—look inward to see what will be most fulfilling and rewarding to you.
Find a Community
Don’t do it alone! Share your writing, and your experiences, with other writers. It helps to talk it out with someone who is going through a similar experience. You might meet up with a friend or two a few times a month over coffee, or maybe you want to join a larger community online. NaNoWriMo is a popular community of novel writers, for example.
Surround yourself with people who support you and lift you up. Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker, said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Think about the people you hang out with, especially in the writing world, and ask yourself if they are the kind of people who will help you on your journey to overcome imposter syndrome.
Practice, practice, practice! You will always be learning and growing, for the rest of your life! Try writing different kinds of pieces, even ones that are out of your comfort zone. A great place to start is journaling, because you can write without fear of judgment while also developing greater awareness of your writing style. Journaling can also help you see the bigger picture, and it can even be meditative!
Write the Kind of Pieces You Want to Read
Remember in school when a brave schoolmate raised their hand and asked a question you were also wondering about? But you were too scared to ask because you were afraid to look silly? Be that kid who raised their hand! Write your piece, and it might be a beacon for others who want to write, too. You never know how your bravery could impact someone else.
Spend More Time in Your “Flow”
When you’re writing and the world seems to disappear, when you don’t come up for air for hours because you were so intensely focused on writing, when you’re practically vibrating with happiness, that’s when you’re in your flow. Think about the times when this has happened to you in the past. What were you writing about? What was your environment like? Try to recreate that feeling as often as possible. Being in your flow more often could even be one of the new ways that you redefine your definition of success!
Make a List of Your Accomplishments, Writing or Otherwise
You have met and overcome challenges before. Find what you have excelled at and accomplished in the past, no matter how small. Remember when you overcame this obstacle—you probably felt then as you do now, yet you succeeded! Write it down, and put it somewhere prominent where you will see it every day. Remind yourself of that feeling of accomplishment whenever you feel stuck. You’ve got this!
What are some other ways you have overcome imposter syndrome as a writer? Share it in the comments below—you never know who you will inspire!