The Impostor Syndrome and Writing

Groucho Glasses

Did you know we all hear internal, negative voices telling us we are little more than a pretender, a fraud at what we do every day – be it our career, our parenting, our  pastimes? It’s called the Impostor Syndrome.* There even are professional career coaches whose business involves teaching us how to cope with this affliction.  Judging from the number of articles, blog postings, and newsletters that deal with the doubts that assail anyone daring to label themselves a “writer,” this ailment seems to flourish in the writing community.

So what are the qualifications that make one a card-carrying impostor?

  • You feel like a pretender who does not deserve success.
  • You don’t recognize your accomplishments for what they are.
  • If you are even minimally successful, it must be due to dumb luck or a good break.
  • Even when you get a positive review, you tell yourself, “Guess I fooled them again. How long it will be before the true me is exposed when they figure out I’m just faking it?”

How do you deal with this “internal editor” nagging in your inner ear?

  • Journaling can help you recognize the flavor and frequency of negative thinking.
  • Asking opinions of empathetic yet honest observers (much akin to that adage advising you visit your neighbors to see how polite your teenage kids behave in public.)
  • List what you accomplished every day and keep that in a folder handy for easy access and positive reinforcement.
  • Take small risks every day that have the potential for positive success.
  • Talk back to your gremlins by writing down what they say and then run that complaint list through your office document shredder – obliterating that irrational ranting.



*Taken from a webinar presented by my U of M Alumni Association. Thanks Goldie.

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