Some Words on Impostor Syndrome

Impostor syndrome is, in essence, self-doubt. A particular kind of self-doubt.

Beyond saying “I’m not good enough,” and “I can’t do this,” impostor syndrome will convince its victim that they will be found out for the fraud they are. That they are merely pretending at being what they claim to be, and that their deception will soon be uncovered.

Impostor syndrome is “I can’t do this, and everyone will find out as soon as they read my terrible book.” Impostor syndrome is “I’m not qualified to teach this workshop, and they will all realise that once I open my mouth.”

Impostor syndrome is self-doubt cuddled up with the fear of being found out.

But, let me tell you something else about it. It is normal. It is common. And you can overcome.

This self-doubt doesn’t disappear once you publish your first book. Or once you publish your hundredth. Or when you make your first million. It will come and go throughout your life, no matter how much evidence you have to back up the truth that, actually, you can do this.

And the reason for its insistence, its stubbornness, its persistence, is that you care. You care about your work, you care about your readers, and you care about doing your best for them.

Check out these quotes from impostor syndrome sufferers. You might recognise some of their names…

I don’t know whether every author feels it, but I think quite a lot do — that I am pretending to be something I am not, because, even nowadays, I do not quite feel as though I am an author.

Agatha Christie

Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.

Neil Gaiman

The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ . . . just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.

Tina Fey

I think the most creative people veer between ambition and anxiety, self-doubt and confidence. I definitely can relate to that.

Daniel Radcliffe

I have written 11 books but each time I think ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.

Maya Angelou

So, if you ever feel that you’re not good enough, not qualified to write, and that, one day, the horrible truth will be discovered; then you are in some very good company. Take comfort in that.

But, when that fear and self-doubt grips you, what do you do about it?

Sadly, there is no perfect answer. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, because impostor syndrome is not a one-size-fits-all problem. Everyone has their own ways to deal with their own monster.

Here’s some ideas:

  • Cake
  • Take a break from your writing
  • Remind yourself of your ‘why’
  • Read over your best reviews and feedback
  • Ask a friend to come over and spend the evening telling you how amazing you are
  • Read/watch/listen to something that deeply inspires you
  • Make a blanket fort
  • Make a list of all of your achievements
  • Cake

How do you deal with self-doubt and impostor syndrome? Let us know in the comments below!

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. You can visit all the participating blogs, or sign up yourself, HERE.

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10 thoughts on “Some Words on Impostor Syndrome

    1. I highly recommend eating cake in blanket forts! You’ve totally got this. You’ll get through it (with cake)

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  1. Impostor syndrome is a huge issue for me! I’m glad to know I’m not alone in that. Thanks for the quotes! And I agree that cake is a good solution. It’s a good solution to most problems.

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  2. Imposter syndrome is so real and so tough to deal with. I (like most of it) battle it every day. So far, it’s won & I don’t have my books out in the world, but I’m working my way through it. Love those quotes – I’m going to remember those!

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  3. Great post. I usually experience IS when I’m attempting something new–the first time I teach a certain class, the first time I’m on a panel with authors like Diana Gabaldon and Tess Gerritsen, etc. What I normally do is tell someone–usually my best friend or my boyfriend–how I’m feeling, and they kindly tell me I’m awesome and will rock it. And then it’s showtime!

    Life would be pretty boring if we stuck to our comfort zone, so even though a lot of the stuff I do scares the crap out of me, it’s so, so worth it. I don’t want any regrets when I look back, certainly not from saying no to a great opportunity just because it spooks me.

    I will say that the worst case of IS I ever had was when I became a director of marketing. In that case, while I could definitely do the job, it wasn’t the right place for me. So maybe that nasty ol’ syndrome was trying to tell me something.

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