Imposter Syndrome came as a huge shock to me. Years ago I heard about it and suddenly I knew what my life was all about. I was pretending to be human, all this time when really I am elfin and alien with a touch of angel. I’ve yet to come into my shapeshifting powers but it won’t be long now.
Seriously, at the Romance Writers of America National Convention in July of 2016, I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Valerie Young speak on the Imposter Syndrome. That applies to so many writers, it’s almost synonymous with the title. If I fake writing these stories for a while, no one will notice.
Dr. Young, an author as well as a smart doctor person, shared that women are more likely to be victims of imposter syndrome than men. We’re just better at self-sabotage. I am pretty sure I didn’t want that to be my super power. She related an example using the authority figure of a coach. If this person says to a team of male athletes, “Someone on the team is not fit.” The men will say, “Yeah, and they better shape up!” There’s no way a man thinks this is about him.
A team of women, however, will be very quiet, because they all think it’s them. Some will even go to the coach and apologize and ask for help. If something happens that was caused by one person, the men think, I didn’t get caught so it doesn’t count. The women will turn themselves in even if they didn’t do it.
Be sure to Google “The Nothing Box” for more input, or watch this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWiBRL-bxiA
Part of the Imposter Syndrome is Procrastination. Because if you actually write your book and put it out there, everyone will know you are a fraud. So the plus side of procrastination is no failure, no bad reviews, no reason to do your best writing. The downside is no readers and wasted time writing stuff you don’t even like.
The Cure for this syndrome does not come in pill form. It’s all about a plan of action. Talk about it or write about it. Post about it on your online writers’ groups. You’ll find others who are happy to know there’s a name for it and relieved to have a place to discuss it.
Step One: Normalize it. Something like 70% of people accepts the inner voice that says “You’re not special.” You can stop feeling like an imposter when you stop believing that voice. Refuse it whenever it starts to play that same old song. Daniel Boone was never lost, but he was “Bewildered for three days”.
Step Two: Reframe your experiences. Have interesting failures. And read this article by Betty Rollins about Dr. Valerie’s lecture in 1991 to a group of successful women who were sure they had gotten where they were by mistakes. http://www.changingcourse.com/pressrelease/dailyhampshiregazette011991.htm
You could be asking yourself “Aren’t I entitled to make a mistake once in a while?” Yes, you are! In fact, you have the right to: 1. Make a mistake or be wrong. 2. Learn from failure/criticism. 3. Be rejected and try again. 4. Be wrong and get another opportunity. 5. To not know everything. 6. To learn as you go and improve along the way.
Lisa Kleypas’s first Romance included a subplot and personality for the hero’s horse. She loved that enough to keep working at it until it clicked. We can’t all be brilliantly articulate. Still, we all have moments when we feel that what we created was pretty good.
Step Three: Reframe your fear. Denzel Washington is an amazing person with some powerful words he shares. He said “If you don’t have a ‘What the hell am I doing here’ moment, it’s time to hang it up. We all have fear.”
One of the top fears, suffered by 74% of people, is the fear of public speaking. This is probably a contributing factor to why we become writers. But some day you will still need to be interviewed, to talk to fans, to do book signings. You can’t hide forever.
So start working on that fear. You won’t believe it easily, but you can overcome this barrier to success. Here are ten steps to get you there. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/248937
Fear is a feeling, and feelings are the last things to change. First change your thoughts, then your actions. Then keep going! You will change, regardless of your fear, if you keep going.
Some people are “Phony Imposters.” If you don’t feel like an imposter, if you don’t feel fear, you are not challenging yourself. Linus VanPelt said, “I am burdened by great potential.” Everyone loses when bright people (I’m looking at you, my fellow writers) play small.
Fans find a release in our stories. No matter what topic you deal with, you may touch someone dealing with cancer, or weight loss, or the death of a loved one, or a divorce. The list goes on and on. Don’t sell yourself short, you have a place in the world of writing. You can’t turn the ball around if you don’t play in the game.
For more on the subject from Dr. Young and tools to talk yourself down from the ledge, get her book, Secret Thoughts of Successful Women. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10878510-the-secret-thoughts-of-successful-women
Thanks for reading. I hope you found the inspiration you needed to move your writing to a higher level. I’ll be back on Sunday.