We’ve all had our moments.
Sometimes? You’re learning a new skill, practicing and playing with it. But something is holding you back from taking the next step — be it submitting your work, trying out for that team, or selling your creations.
Sometimes, you’re placed in a position where you supposedly know what you’re doing — either because of your bluster or someone else’s assumptions. It could be on the job, online, or when they send you home with your first newborn kid (or so I’ve been told). And every moment, you’re just sitting there, hoping to keep everyone fooled so they don’t know how big of a fake you are.
Impostor syndrome. Most of us have experienced it. Some of us live with it.
For those that don’t know? Impostor syndrome is defined as “a psychological pattern in which one doubts one’s accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.“
In my most recent Author Spotlight, Katherine talked about submitting hundreds of poems while in college and it made me think. I always wanted to be a writer, but it took me until I’d been out of college for a long time before I started taking my writing seriously. Before I even started contemplating sending my work to other people.
With my first manuscript? It’s on its EIGHTH round of revisions, because every handful of rejections, I stop submitting and start looking into how I can make it better. I tell myself it’s making me a better writer. I tell myself I’m building skills and improving. But, there’s definitely a part of me that is LOOKING for things to fix. Because if my best effort was rejected, that means I’m not good enough. I should just go home.
Dwelling on that might be good for a night or a week after a rejection, but it’s not going to get me anywhere.
5 Ways To Confront Your Impostor Syndrome
- Take a class
Maybe you do stink. Maybe your skills aren’t where you want them to be. And honestly? All of us could improve, no matter how good — or bad — we are.
In that case? It could be time to take a class, brush up on the skills we’re good at, learn techniques to deal with our weaknesses, and discover new things that can make us shine.
- See How Far You’ve Come
If you look at your old stuff, compared to your new stuff, you might notice a change. An improvement.
Or? If you like your old stuff better? Revisiting it might be the way to get that voice back — so you can run with it!
- Re-visit What You’re Proud Of
Whether it’s a single sentence, a poem, or a novel, reread that thing you made that made you proud. See what you’ve done, what you’ve created. Remind yourself that this is a thing you can do!
- Save The Good Notes
When a beta-reader or critique partner or reviewer says something about my work or forgets they’re critiquing, I file that away. In one (very stalling moment last October), I copied one encouraging note onto a piece of paper and taped it to my wall.
Then? When my writing is going rough, I reread their kind words, where they tell me how much they enjoyed my writing, or compared it favorably to an award-winning series I adore, I stick my chin up, and I get back to it.
- Say “BLEEP It”
Sometimes? All you can do is tell yourself: “So what if my writing stinks, and everyone else’s writing is amazing and so much more deserving. I finished this and I’m putting it out there anyway. They can take it or leave it, but it’s mine.”
Otherwise known as ‘fake it til ya make it’.
It can be hard. Writing is years of work with no guarantee of success. It’s a labor of love and requires near-infinite patience with the publishing industry.
If you need to step away and take a break; if you need to do something else because it’s killing you? Do it! Do what you need to take care of yourself.
Plus? You can always change your mind. Your writing will always there for you. Waiting. However comforting or creepy that sounds.
Besides, you can’t be the impostor, I’m the real impostor!
Recently, I’ve been making a lot of progress on my short term goals — the ones I can control. So, what triggered my recent bout of self-doubt?
On the advice of a friend, I started applying to be a panelist at science-fiction and fantasy conventions a couple years ago. You know, the ones I like to attend 30 panels in 4 days at?
And this year? I’ve had 3 conventions accept!
Meep! I’m still an unpublished writer. All I’ve got is this blog/vlog where most of the time it feels like I’m shouting into the void. Basically, a free vanity press where all it costs is my time and my dignity. I’ve been going to these cons and taking notes from the greats! What makes me think I can sit up there and talk, that my advice and perspective is something worth listening to?
Well, as my calendar reminded me, I’ve been blogging for nearly 5 years and haven’t missed a week since before this time last leap year! I’m consistent, mostly coherent, and still giving fresh takes. I’ve got experience querying in the current market, and people I beta-read for keep coming back for more, so I can’t be too useless — or mean!
Step one for this bout of impostor syndrome was to update my business cards and add “Blogger | Vlogger” to it. Because that’s a big part of why I’m going to be up there.
Enough teaser, Morgan. Tell us where you’re going to be so we can properly stalk you. (Note: please don’t stalk. Just say hi, and keep it casual.)
I’m going to be at RavenCon 15 in Williamsburg, VA April 24-26 and once I got my tentative schedule, my impostor syndrome backed off a little. (Plus, I have my own panelist bio page that is basically the best. I’m pretty happy with what I finally decided on for my new profile pic). But, anyway, my panels.
- The Writer and the Beta Reader
- Social Media Best Practices for Writers
- Social Media, or, Why I Haven’t Finished My Novel
This schedule is still tentative and subject to change. But these are all things I can talk about for ages — at least the basics — without feeling like I need to step back and let the experts talk! Now to find out if I actually enjoy being on panels, and get my stuff out there to be published!
For the others conventions, I have no schedule yet, but I’m going to be on panels at Balticon in Baltimore, MD May 22-25, and in New ZEALAND at CoNZealand for WorldCon from July 29-August 2nd! With any luck, those panels will be along the same vein and I’ll really find my footing on panels.
And maybe get something published.
Have you ever faced impostor syndrome? What did you do to work past it? Or did you just run?
Have you ever paneled at a convention? Any tips for a neophyte?