I Deal with Imposter Syndrome Daily and I Haven’t Quit Writing Yet

Imposter

 

by Meg Dowell

Writing is hard enough. Add imposter syndrome into the mix and it becomes the kind of challenge you have to remind yourself, quite often, is still worth pursuing.

Imposter syndrome is more of psychological phenomenon than an actual syndrome. It is nothing more than a bundle of feelings of inadequacy. But it isn’t just raw self-doubt: these feelings persist even when there’s clear evidence that a person who does not believe they are actually good at what they do is, in fact, very good at what they do.

A student who deals with imposter syndrome may feel he isn’t intelligent even though he has a 4.0 GPA. He might even believe his professors graded too easy or that his classes weren’t challenging.

As you can imagine, dealing with imposter syndrome, as a writer, is pretty much as close to hell as you can get. Yes, I do realize that in admitting I struggle with this, I am simultaneously pointing out that I am a good writer even though, 95% of the time, I don’t believe it. I’m not saying this out of conceit (clearly). I’m just saying that, if I had a formal CV written up, it would contradict my beliefs in my own ability to cram words onto pages and make them sound nice, that’s all.

Every single time I publish something, I’m certain, consciously, that it isn’t any good. AND I DO THIS EVERY SINGLE DAY. There are days I post here and stay off the blog for the rest of the day because I just can’t stand the thought that I’m spewing nonsense onto the internet and potential employers are going to look at it and shake their heads.

Yet I keep doing it. I keep putting myself through this. Why?

Not just because it’s my job, though that’s certainly a factor. I think I do it because, like many writers, I am mentally and emotionally unwell when I do not write. Many days, I write because I have to, whether I feel good about what I’m preparing to publish or not. That isn’t to say I don’t want to write, or that I do not enjoy it. Writing something that no one will ever see is one thing. Writing something potentially thousands of people could see is something completely different.

When I publish, I do not do it for myself. I do it for anyone out there who might be reading. Despite the fact that I usually have a hard time believing it when anyone tells me I’m doing a good job or that I’m a good writer, I still believe that I have important things to say. Log onto any social media platform and you will see there are plenty of people out there who care more about making themselves heard than communicating a message well. In a way, I suppose I’m just like them. I do the best I can. I take a deep breath (literally, before hitting ‘post’ every time) and I send things out into the world. I’ve built a wall around myself when it comes to feedback on my writing. If people don’t like it, I can deal. All that matters to me is that it’s out there and it might help someone someday.

Can we get over these feelings? Yes and no. I think the more we do what makes us afraid or uneasy, the easier it gets. I’m fully aware now that I have this problem and sometimes, writing and publishing things anyway is my way of saying, “Ha ha, brain, I win!” I lack confidence in my expertise and ability as a writer. That does not mean I am not allowed to still write. There will always be things I do keep to myself, even if I do write about them, and that is fine. As long as I do not stop myself from publishing something simply because I do not think it is good.

If you are someone who struggles with these feelings, know that you are not alone. Also know that regardless of how much your doubts tempt you to quit writing, I beg you, don’t let them push you over the edge. This is a very difficult thing to handle, as a writer. Writers need confidence in order to keep going, and daily, this is something that will try to crush your confidence, almost to the point of breaking it forever.

Just keep going. It isn’t always fun. Sometimes there are tears. But the only way to fight it is to do exactly what your brain is trying to tell you not to do. That’s what I’ve found, anyway. What works for me may not work for you. But I hope that you are still able to do what you love anyway.

 

 

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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21 thoughts on “I Deal with Imposter Syndrome Daily and I Haven’t Quit Writing Yet”

  1. Thank you for this. I think it is a very common issue for writers and certainly one I struggle with. It gets worse when one has bad or mediocre reviews on their books. It is a hard pill to swallow that someone thought your book sucked and add impostor syndrome to that and you can easily end up down for the count.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Things like that never get easier 😦 BUT, as much as negative reviews etc. hurt there’s always the hope that someday there will be more positive feedback than negative….

      Like

  2. You. Are. Genius. It can be scary to write and publish it online for all to see… because, in a sense, it’s vulnerable. It’s raw. It can be hard to confront criticism. I deal with it all the time! Posting on my blog can be a tremendous mountain to climb, other days it can be a walk in the park. It just depends. Keep it up though. You’re doing well.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I find myself questioning my abilities as a writer every day. I read other blogs and stories and ask myself why I’m calling myself a writer when I’m not half as good as them. And I admit, there are moments when I have thought about quitting. I think what has kept me from going over the edge is this nagging feeling to write. It’s something I can’t ignore. So I write, and then remember why I got into writing in the first place. It’s because I love to be creative and writing is my platform.

    Thank you for sharing this post!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re welcome 🙂 I think doubt is just a normal part of being creative. But just because we’re not fond of something w’eve just written doesn’t mean it won’t mean a lot to someone else!

      Like

    1. Ooo I like this! So true. The more we question why we’re doing this thing the more we’re forced to remember why, usually it’s because the need to write is just there and can’t be ignored.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Completely understand this. From personal experience I can definitely say sometimes writing is the only thing that keeps me thinking clearly and if that’s the only reason I keep going some days, that’s good enough for me hahah…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I completely know what you mean. When I was at university I suffered from crippling “Academic Anxiety”, at least that’s what it was called ten years ago. During finals I would have bouts of cold sweats, shaking, vomiting and even fainting before tests. When I was a freshmen, all my professors insisted that once I developed a record of doing well on tests, I would stop feeling nervous. That whole year I received A after A, but my anxiety never got any better. I never felt like I had really earned that A. I always thought that I had just gotten lucky, or maybe the professor felt sorry for me. No matter how hard I studied or how well I did, my anxiety didn’t lessen at all until I graduated. And then I started writing, and it was back again in a (thankfully) wimpier form.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I resonate with this – I have awful exam-related anxiety. Thankfully I’m almost done with school. For me, writing kind of calms me down and keeps me mentally in check. The only time writing makes me anxious is when I’m approaching a deadline…..but usually it’s just enough stress to keep me going and get things done in time and not usually enough to make me have to stop, like studying.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I make no claim of being good or bad; so that from time to time I write my spill and then it’s out there. It’s out there because we can all do that now. Feedback is good, as long as its constructive. Anything less is demoralising.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like when a reader feels the need to tell us how we “should have” written something instead of the way it’s already published? Haha, not helpful…..sometimes a simple “great job” is enough! Silly readers…..:P

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have a simple philosophy: Paraphrasing something I read once with my own thoughts added, “I write because I can and I can because I want to and I want to because so many people said I couldn’t and they said I couldn’t because they knew I could.”
    I have bad days like everyone else but I never doubt what I can do. I just sometimes doubt if I can finish it. Now I know I can as I finished what I thought impossible–writing a book.
    I once said, “In my greatest weakness lies my greatest strength. For as much as I am knocked down, I cannot seem to stay down. Over again, I rise. It would seem to be in my nature to never know when I am defeated. Perhaps this explains why I never am.”

    Like

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