Author Imposter Syndrome

The second step, which is vital in overcoming author imposter syndrome is to own your story, your life experiences.  As I mentioned in previous podcasts a famous author Flannery O’Connor once said that “anybody who has survived childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days”.  So, if you are an adult about to embark on an author’s journey, then you only need to look back on your childhood experiences or experiences you had yesterday, months or years ago that give you enough material to write.

The third step is to write.  Write everyday, even a word or two.  Just write.  Grab yourself a journal and write.  You’d be surprised how far you can go.  It may not be great writing but just write.  Another famous author’s quote I mentioned in my first podcast was from Margaret Atwood, and it’s worth repeating.  She said this to a group of Cornell university English majors on April 1, 2011, “write everyday if you can, no matter how awful you think it is.  Just keep doing it.”

The fourth step is even more critical.  It helped me to break the author imposter syndrome.  This step is to join a writer’s group.  There are usually writing guilds in every local city.  They usually have government funding from arts grants.  They are free for writers and artists to join, if you are a resident of that city. 

You can also join a number of online writing groups, there are many to choose from.  These types of online writing groups can be beneficial by reading and sharing online activity, but I sometimes find it is not as personalized due to the vastness of members.  Sometimes it becomes an exercise in counting the number of likes and comments.  It’s much better to join a local writer’s group where you can learn and gain valuable resources from attending writing workshops, but also critiquing workshop sessions.

What are writer critique workshops?

Engaging in writer critique workshops involves putting your writing out in a public space.  You expose your writing for all members to see and critique. 

To be honest, I had many fears of participating in writer critique workshops.  Alas the author imposter syndrome strikes again.  I was afraid to share my writing, exposing it to others, because I had no confidence.  I had tremendous doubt and fear.  I didn’t believe my writing was worth a first, not even a second look.  I refused to read my work at an open mic and didn’t want other authors to read my work either.  So what did I do? I waited a couple of years before I took the plunge of sharing my work.  Yes that was a waste of time.  It’s like baking a pie and not letting anyone taste it.  To find out if I defeated author imposter syndrome in that workshop, tune in to my upcoming video podcasts.  

Remember that with author imposter syndrome, fear is your enemy!  Trust in God who gave you the talent to write or do whatever you do best.  When you let go of fear and trust in God you will be able to achieve greatness.  Fear is darkness.  Reject the darkness and embrace the light.  God is light.  Your Holy Spirit is light.

If you let fear consume you, it will.  That fear causes doubts and especially in author imposter syndrome.  Doubts about your writing prevent you from writing. 

A little voice in your head says for example, “But all those famous authors – I can’t be like them!”.    

“Who am I kidding? I can’t write!”

“I’ve submitted stories and I was rejected.  I’m no good.  I should give up now!”

Stop right there.  Do not give up.  Have hope. 

Let me analyze these comments.  “You can’t be like all those famous authors.”  Guess what.  I’m going to tell you a secret.  All those famous authors started out just like you.  Everyone goes through a mental doubt of author imposter syndrome.  But they didn’t give up.

The second comment “who am I kidding? I can’t write!”, you shouldn’t dwell upon in the wrong way.  Many authors/writers question themselves that they can’t write because they worry about what others may say about their writing.  In a way this can be a blessing because it’s part of the process of self-reflection.  Being critical of your work is a positive step towards becoming a serious writer.  When you share your work with other authors, whether it be with peers, in critique workshops, in writing groups, with literary agents, editors, etc., you allow yourself to critically reflect and grow with your writing.

Critiquing and editing will improve your writing.  The third and final remark is about rejections.  You must learn and pray for courage to persevere through rejections for your writing.  It’s part of being an author.

Many great authors exist today and in the past who experienced countless rejections before they were published.  Not everyone or every publisher is going to accept the first manuscript you send out.  A rejection of your writing doesn’t constitute you as an unworthy author. 

There are many reasons why a publisher or editor may reject your work.  It could be your work doesn’t fit the genre they publish, or perhaps the timing of your manuscript doesn’t work with the subject matter they are focusing on for that publication run, or simply it isn’t a good fit.  If you’re lucky for an editor to send correspondence to you directly offering advice, then you’re guaranteed it’s a validation of you as an author.  Every time I receive personal correspondence from publication editors, I know it’s a validation for me as an author.  In order to get to that point, you need to have the courage to send your work out.  So don’t be afraid and just say to yourself I’m an author!