Notice in the title I used the word ‘ease’ instead of ‘overcome.’ That’s because I don’t have a crystal ball, and I haven’t overcome imposter syndrome. There are many days where I feel like I’m a big fake.
As much as I’d like to get rid of it, I don’t know if it’s possible and, I don’t want to make hollow promises. However, I do believe, we can ease it.
Have you ever heard the saying you can’t control your first thought, but you can control your second thought and your reactions? It’s like that. Imposter syndrome might be here to stay, but we don’t have to hang out with it.
Imposter syndrome got me good today. I received an email from a blogger saying she had read my YA novel Firebird and wanted to know if I would do an author interview on her site.
I was flabbergasted. And my first thought was, she must not realize Firebird was self-published. She’s not going to want to interview me when she realized I’m not traditionally published. That I struggle to write. That I don’t know if I’ll ever be a successful writer. I almost deleted the email. But I wrote her back.
When imposter syndrome smacks you in the face, like it did me today, here are four ways to deal with it.
Acknowledge imposter syndrome is an unreliable character.
Do you know someone who tells such tall tales that you don’t automatically believe them until you have proof? Imposter syndrome is that person. It’s unreliable and needs to be kept at arm’s length.
Imagine that person telling you they didn’t like a movie. Since you don’t trust their judgment, you’ll probably go see the movie anyway. Same with writing.
When imposter syndrome tells you you’re a fake, say I don’t trust your judgment on this, and then write your novel anyway.
Don’t mischaracterize yourself.
Obviously, imposter syndrome may have a point if you’re passing yourself off as a genius when you’re really a regular person like the rest of us. Fake it until you make it doesn’t mean to lie about your accomplishments.
It’s also important to remember not to undersell yourself. We worry that we’ll let people down if we try to pass ourselves off as more than we are so instead we downplay our talents. Stop it. If you have a choice, I’d rather see you oversell than undersell.
We need to be honest with where we are. Acknowledge your accomplishments! And let your dreams be your path.
I want to be a full-time writer. I’m not there yet, but I have written a novel and several short stories. I have learned from that process. And I have continued educating myself on the writing craft so that I can continue on the path to doing that.
Trust in the process. Do the things.
This is where imposter syndrome causes the most damage. When we let it tell us we’re not the person we think we are, we will never be the person we want to be, we’re not capable of doing something or any other variation that keeps us from moving forward.
Caveat, there are times when we legitimately can’t do something. For this post, I’m talking about the times when our self-doubt tells us we can’t do something before we’ve even tried.
Figure out the action items that you need to take to get to your goal. Break it down into small steps. Work these steps. Focus on doing them to the best of your ability instead of whether or not you deserve to be on this path. And remember it may take time, but keep your focus steady and don’t say no to opportunities.
There are no guarantees your writing will ever get published—but it is guaranteed it never will be if you don’t do it.
Believe the positive feedback.
If someone gives you a compliment about your writing, believe them. Yes, I know, people sometimes give compliments to be nice. Believe it anyway. Don’t spend your time deconstructing what they ‘really meant.’ It doesn’t help anything.
It’s okay to be hopeful. Believing a compliment won’t go to your head. But it can help ease imposter syndrome and help motivate you to keep moving forward on your path. Revisit it again and again if necessary.