Do you ever feel like a writing imposter? Like you're just faking this writing thing, waiting for everyone to figure out you have no idea what you're doing?
I challenged my friend, author S.J. Henderson, to write a poem a few days ago. She took me up on my challenge, wrote a poem, and it turned out beautifully.
But she said something interesting afterward, something I recognize in my own thoughts about my writing, something almost every writer I know deals with. Here's what she said:
I feel like an imposter.
Because I think most of us feel like that at some point in our writing. I certainly do, sometimes daily.
What do you do when you're passionate about writing, when it fills your soul, and yet when you feel like you're just faking it? What do you do when you feel like you'll never live up to the writers you admire and respect?
Why You Shouldn't Feel Like a Writing Imposter
Writers, I've found, are very sensitive to shame.
Shame is, at its core, the belief that you don't belong, that there's something essentially wrong with you, and that you'll never be able to be part of the group because of that essential flaw.
Shame is the fear of being exposed, that if you are exposed, you will be rejected.
But what is writing except exposing the deepest parts of yourself? Since writing is such a vulnerable activity, writers come up against shame constantly. There's no avoiding it.
The “imposter” thoughts constantly follow:
- I'm a sham
- I can't write poetry
- I'll never write something great like my favorite writers
- I'm not a real writer
- I'm just faking it
- My writing is worthless
And so on.
3 Steps to Dealing With Imposter Writer Syndrome
The inescapable reality is that if you want to be a writer, you will feel shame. Everyone feels shame, but writer's are particular susceptible to it. It's just part of the job.
And the worst part is there's no quick-fix to shame.
But here are three tips to dealing with that feeling of being an “imposter” writer:
1. Identify It
First, just recognize your feelings. When you get that feeling like you got punched in the gut or someone poured a bucket of ice water over your head, make the connection, “Oh, I'm feeling shame right now.”
2. Endure it
Next, endure it. Even though you may feel like you would do anything to not feel like this, the hard truth is that you can't distract yourself out of shame.
And if you try to distract yourself as a way to avoid feelings of shame, you can potentially do long-term damage to your creativity (creativity and vulnerability are closely linked).
Instead, feel your feelings. Breathe them in. Breath them out. Let them exist, even as they rip you up inside.
3. Replace It
Shame is the belief that who you are is not good enough.
Obviously, that's a lie, because you are awesome.
You can be a great writer.
You aren't a sham, an imposter, or just faking it.
You are an artist. You are beautifully and wonderfully creative.
And, most of all, writing is supposed to be fun! Stop taking it (and yourself!) so seriously.
Don't give in to the lie, replace it with truth.
You Aren't An Imposter
We all feel like imposters. Even the great writers do:
F. Scott Fitzgerald felt like an imposter.
J.K. Rowling felt like an imposter.
Earnest Hemingway felt like an imposter.
George R.R. Martin felt like an imposter.
We all feel like we're faking this writing thing so much of the time. You can't avoid it.
But you can live with it. You can overcome it. You can write anyway.
Let's do it together.
Have you ever felt like an imposter as a writer? Let us know in the comments.
Stop taking writing so seriously. Today, write something silly. Write the silliest thing you've ever written.
It doesn't have to make sense. It doesn't even need to have punctuation. It just needs to be fun, a lot of fun.
Have fun and happy writing!