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You’re awesome, you just don’t know it.

IWSG badgeThis post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the December 2 posting of the IWSG will be Sandra Hoover, Mark Koopmans, Doreen McGettigan, Megan Morgan, and Melodie Campbell!

First of all, I’m a co-host today and I’m so excited about it! I’ve been doing IWSG for over a year now (my first post was in October 2014) and this is the first time I’ve co-hosted. I’m a little nervous and a lot enthusiastic, so let’s get to it, shall we?

I have great news for you writers out there who think you’re a phony sucky fake despite any accomplishments you may have achieved.

Chances are, you’re not as sucky as you think.

I recently read some articles about Imposter Syndrome. In brief, it’s a psychological phenomenon in which capable people believe they’re actually incompetent and all their accomplishments are flukes, luck, or the result of lies. From the Wikipedia articleDespite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.

I think I may suffer from this issue, as my first reaction to the definition was “well I’m sure there’s people out there like that, but I’m actually a fluke.”

Every time I send something to a publisher and they agree to publish it, my first order of business is to come up with ‘reasons’ why this happened. Are those reasons that I’m a good author and it’s an interesting, well-written story? Heavens, no. That’s insane.

When Kensington/Lyrical picked up my series, I assumed:

  1. They don’t have enough authors (Kensington has hundreds of authors on their roster).
  2. There’s no vetting process, they publish everyone (Kensington has more bestselling books and authors than I can count–I’m pretty sure their approval process is not ‘throw things against the wall and see if they stick’).
  3. The acquiring editor was drunk when they read my submission (a tad bit presumptuous and rude).

It’s comforting to know there’s other people out there who would accuse a person they’ve never met of dysfunctional alcoholism before they’d give themselves a modicum of praise.

I guess there’s proof for it, though. Think of someone you know who is very good at what they do–an expert, even. Now think of how that person behaves. For me, the people I know like this are some of the humblest, nicest people I know. Even if I’m dying to know more about the thing they’re an expert on, I usually have to fish it out of them and they qualify their statements with things like “Well I’m hardly an expert, but…” or “There are people who know much more about this than me,” or “This is only my opinion, don’t take it as gospel.”

And the inverse is true as well. Now, think of someone you know who brags non-stop about something they deem themselves good at. Who never passes up a chance to fill you in on their area of ‘expertise.’ Who has absolutely no awareness people are trying to subtly escape them in social situations. Is that person actually good at the thing they claim to be an expert at? I can name several people I know who are like this (and I dated one, unfortunately) and the answer is no. I think it’s a self-esteem issue–they don’t gain knowledge of a skill for the love of that knowledge itself, but to impress other people.

And I think that’s what it boils down to. When you love something, really love it–in our case, writing–you want to know all there is to know about it. But you realize there’s SO MUCH to know about it, how can you ever be an expert?  And there will always be someone who knows more, does better, and has a better handle on things…so if you accomplish something, it must be a fluke, right?

I’m here to tell you you’re not a fluke, it’s just Imposter Syndrome.

Except me, I’m totally a fluke.

Megan Morgan View All

Urban fantasy and paranormal romance author.

92 thoughts on “You’re awesome, you just don’t know it. Leave a comment

  1. I didn’t know there was a word for that but even after my last 6 books being bestsellers, I don’t feel like a successful writer. I have to remind myself that I’m doing okay even if I’m not famous. Most writers aren’t.

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    • I don’t know if it makes me happy that even successful authors like yourself still feel this, or it makes me sad because that means it never goes away. Congratulations on your success! May you have many, many more! And thank you for stopping by!

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  2. Funny, I ask myself those questions too after a short story has been accepted. A common writer syndrome I’m sure, until we reach Stephen King status. I hope to lose that insecurity by then.

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  3. Thanks for co-hosting and stopping by my blog! I was talking about imposter syndrome with my brother a couple months ago, and we decided we both often feel that way. I’m in my early 30s and I still don’t feel capable of making adult decisions and I certainly do not feel like I’ve accomplished very much. It’s good to know we’re not alone, thanks for sharing this great post!

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    • Haha, this reminds me of one of my favorite memes I’ve seen around the internet: “I’m an adult but more like an adult cat… Like someone should probably take care of me but I can also sorta make it on my own.” I think that’s how we often feel as writers!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  4. It was cool to see you hosting this month. Something I may do some day. Can I wait the full year as you did?
    I’m another person who thinks they are a fake and sucky. Well, I have proof of this at least. Mostly because I don’t have anything worth while to be published. I have no achievements, unless you count the number of years I’ve spent blogging instead of trying to get anything published, an achievement.
    As luck would have it, (as my entry for this month shows), I’ve already decided to work on a schedule for 2016 to see what sort of writing accomplishments I can conclude. I have a series I want to finally finish and see if I can actually do anything with it.
    If I can, no THAT would be a fluke.

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    • I don’t think there’s any set time period before you can co-host–I’d never done it and I happened to see Alex asking for co-hosts, so I was like ‘why not?’

      All right, here’s the thing–every single writer who ‘made it,’ who has something published, including myself, once had nothing worthwhile to be published. All they had was a dream and a plan, like you do. That’s where we all start. I don’t know why writers are prone to this. I don’t think a line cook in a restaurant who has dreams of being a chef looks at Gordon Ramsay and Bobby Flay and says “well, I’m not on their level, so I must suck.” We all start as nothing. Stick to your guns and your plans. YOU CAN DO IT! As corny as it might sound, every tree starts as a nut, and when it’s a sapling it doesn’t compare itself to the grown trees around it–given enough time and sunlight, it catches up.

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  5. Kind of like those with Bulimia or Anorexia. Looking at themselves in a mirror all they can see is fat, not the beauty, not the bones (when it has gone too far). Sometimes reality is very hard to see, or believe… Thanks for co hosting!

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    • Absolutely, there’s a name for that too–dysphoria. I think writers have accomplishment dysphoria. All we see are the things that are wrong with us and need improving.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  6. Well, I don’t think I’ve made it far enough to fall into the impostor syndrome. I think I’m just in failure mode. 🙂 Ah well, I guess if it isn’t one thing, it’s another.

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  7. Ha, ha, I’d never heard of that before. I’m glad to hear there are other people who think that way. I published my first book in February, but I still find it hard to call myself an author in front of other people. That must be why.

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  8. I think I suffer from this too. It took me a long time to find the courage to put my work out there, and I second-guess myself all the time. I keep going the way I do because I love writing so much. Thanks for co-hosting!

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    • I think that’s the important part–the love of writing. At the end of the day, no matter how much we doubt ourselves, it’s the love of creating stories that brings us back.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. I know the feeling. It’s taken me a LONG time to become comfortable with the ‘writer’ title. Even now, I still don’t like to tell people that I write. Well, not just anybody.

    The Imposter Syndrome goes hand-in-hand with the saying “Fake It Till You Make It.”
    In the words of Paulo Coelho – “You must be the person you never had the courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend and invent.”
    So maybe Imposter Syndrome is necessary… part of the process/journey?
    Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG this month. 🙂

    Like

    • I’m the same way! It’s usually my friends and co-workers who are crowing to people “hey, she has a book published!” while I’m blushing and fidgeting. I’m super grateful for some of my friends, they could be my street team, but it’s so hard for me to ‘brag’ about it myself.

      That’s a really good point and I’m a huge fan of ‘fake it till you make it.’ We fake so many things in life until we finally manage to figure them out, after all.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. Someone contacted me recently who left a good review for my novel on Amazon. My first thought was: “Really?” I won an award and was a finalist in another contest, but still can’t quite accept that my debut novel was pretty good.

    Recently I read a novel by a bestselling author who shall remain nameless. It was horrible! It actually made me feel better…she has a large audience of happy fans…and while I want to do good work, seems like the goal is to communicate with people, and obviously she is good at that. So, my job is to get the work done, do my best, and put it out there!

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    • Those are awesome accomplishments, congratulations! I recently won best urban fantasy at The Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Awards and I kept trying to come up with all kinds of reasons why it happened–that people I know voted for me (only about ten people I actually know did), or that people were pity-voting when I pandered for votes (I could see the vote numbers though and they never correlated with my ‘gentle reminders’ on social media). Sometimes we finally just have to accept…we did it!

      I’ve read some really big-selling books that were awful too. But I guess taste is subjective. We just have to hope we’re to someone’s taste!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. No, you are not a fluke. Keep telling yourself that until it sticks. There’s a variation for religious people where every accomplishment is attributed to God rather than luck. That’s what I do. I think it’s healthier because it stems from a belief that a higher power is watching over you and helping because he loves you. It engenders an attitude of gratitude and a desire to keep striving. Not that thinking of yourself as a fluke will discourage trying, but I think the religious version works better. And you’re less likely to become prideful, a know-it-all, or a narcissist. Whatever it takes for you to get over the syndrome, keep writing!

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    • This is very good advice! I tend to think of a lot of my accomplishments as blessings anyway, so that’s a very good way to frame it. Maybe some other authors can do the same thing. Thank you for stopping by with such inspiring advice!

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  12. Congratulations. Regarding complex psychoses, it took me years to convince myself that I was okay, just okay. And that’s almost enough. In my senior years, I’ve begun to stop comparing myself to others. Thanks for a great post.

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    • I feel like as I get older as well, I focus less on other people and more on myself too–maybe that’s the blessing of aging! May we all learn to accept ourselves, sooner rather than later!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  13. I’d be an imposter if I didn’t often fall into the clutches of Imposter Syndrome – but I never knew there was an official word or “diagnosis” to my insecurities, so thanks for educating this uncouth ruffian 🙂

    Thanks also for co-hosting, see you out there 🙂

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  14. Hi Megan and thanks for co-hosting this month. The “Fear of Success” syndrome is well documented. So we berate, down grade, think good fortune that comes our way is a fluke. But you’re right, we are worth everything we earn. And it’s not being a flake or a fluke. It’s deserved and awesome!

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    • It’s so frustrating that this is how we’re wired, to think poorly of our achievements instead of embracing them. Maybe that’s what motivates us to keep going. If that’s how it works, it sure seems like a bum deal! Maybe the trick is being more mindful of that kind of thinking so you can see it for what a fraud IT is.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Great post, Megan. I can absolutely relate to it. There’s something about achieving dreams that’s almost anticlimatic, so inspires me/us-all to call it a fluke. I’m going to be on the lookout for that attitude now.

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    • “There’s something about achieving dreams that’s almost anticlimatic.” That hits the nail RIGHT on the head! We get so pumped up about this imaginary future event that we’re sure will include fireworks and dancing unicorns, and then we get there and find out…it’s just one step in a very long process. It’s actually pretty low-key.There’s no unicorns. Maybe we need to accept the fact unicorns aren’t real but achievement is still great.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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    • That seems to be the very nature of it. That we can say “you’re great…but I suck.” I can’t help but wonder if it serves a useful function in encouraging us to try harder.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  16. I think there are some flukes in the publishing business, but that doesn’t mean the writers who benefit from them aren’t deserving. Even if it’s a writer who is criticized (E.L.James, Stephanie Meyer, and Dan Brown come to mind), these people did create stories that tons of people bought and presumably enjoyed.

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    • Very much so. And despite the criticism they get, a whoooole lot of people love their stories. Taste is subjective after all, and just because something isn’t one person’s cup of tea doesn’t mean it’s not genuinely wonderful to someone else. I try not to criticize anyone else’s success because I wasn’t there every step of the way seeing what they went through.

      Thank you for stopping by!

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  17. I feel like this very often. Even when my short story was published, I was like, “This can’t possibly be as good as the others in the anthology. People will hate it. I’m a fraud.” It’s awful, and who can convince us otherwise!?

    Thanks for co-hosting!

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    • Yep, I’ve been through that before! I’ve been in a few anthologies. It’s hard to even read the other stories because you’re sighing “look how good they are…why didn’t I think of that…” I wonder if the other authors feel the same?

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. Well that’s nice to know. =)

    I will never think the same when faced with that doubting inner voice. That doesn’t mean I won’t listen, but I won’t think about it quite the same. Here’s to pushing past the insecurity, eh?

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    • Wonderful! I’m glad I helped change somebody’s mind with this. I think if we pay more attention to that inner voice and see it for what it really is, maybe it’ll help shut it up a little bit.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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    • I had the same reaction! And then I went about trying to convince myself it doesn’t apply to me because I’m ACTUALLY a fraud–and then I realized that was the definition of Imposter Syndrome. 😀

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  19. Yup – Imposter syndrome was a term created for business women – when we actually succeed, we start to doubt ourselves and feel like imposters. I used to talk about it when I taught in the business faculty. It’s hard to keep up the confident front. In our writing biz, man, it strikes with a vengeance. Nice to meet you Megan!

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    • Thanks for stopping by with your insight! I’ve never worked in the business sector but I can imagine how it sprung up there, where everything is so competitive and fast-paced. I’m glad for groups like this where we can connect and tell each other ‘hey it’s okay, you’re doing great!’

      Very nice to meet you too! Thanks for stopping by!

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    • I think it said that in one of the articles I read, that doubting ourselves like that makes us try harder, which makes us better, which makes us doubt ourselves more…what a vicious cycle! I’m glad for groups like this where we can all air our worries and give each other encouragement and cyber hugs.

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Like

  20. Hi,
    Thank you for co-hosting and many, many thanks for your article. It was just what I needed to read because I am getting my first novel ready to send out next year.

    All the best.
    Shalom,
    Patricia

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  21. Yes, we joined IWSG for a reason, maybe so similar that it’s amazing we’re not related. One thing I noticed is you have an aptitude for understanding people. Thanks for co-hosting, Megan.

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    • Thank you so much for the compliment! Maybe it’s from years of working in the service industry. You meet so many different people and as a bartender, you end up talking to a lot of people and being that stranger they end up baring their soul too. I love watching and reading people.

      Thank you for stopping by!

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  22. Thanks for co-hosting this month. So there’s a name for what we all feel, huh? Funny. We do our best. That’s all anyone can expect of us.

    Best wishes,
    Diane
    IWSG #85

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  23. Wonderful post! You’ve touched on so many universal feelings that, I’m guessing, almost all writers experience from time to time (Imposter Syndrome high among them). It’s so nice to know that we’re not alone with our crazy (sometimes irrational) emotions. Happy writing and holidays to you!

    Like

    • It’s comforting to know others are going through the same struggles. We could all get together in a big group and talk about how capable we aren’t and how much we suck….wait, isn’t that IWSG?! 😀

      Thanks for stopping by and happy holidays to you as well!

      Like

  24. Thanks for co-hosting today! When I first read the green lettered words ‘accepted,’ in my submittable account, I was shocked. Then excited. And when those feelings passed I was plagued with doubt. Thoughts like if this is for real, why would FLP want to publish my poetry chapbook, this could be a vanity press, etc. Ran through my mind. So yeah, although getting published is what I’ve dreamed of but still, when it happens can’t help but wonder if it’s a fluke.

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    • Oh gosh I know those feelings! You want to celebrate but you’re also afraid because someone must be messing with you. I got a phone call from the head editor of Lyrical right on the heels of an acceptance email I hadn’t even finished reading yet. When she asked if this was ‘Megan’ (my real name isn’t Megan, so if someone is calling me that it’s writing business) and I swear my blood ran cold. I was so sure one of my friends was pranking me, even though none of my friends have a New York accent. LOL! I think when she told me they wanted all three books I said “You’re kidding, right?” What a way to start a professional relationship! 😀

      Congratulations on your poetry book! That’s wonderful! And hey…you’re awesome! Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. It’s interesting–I wrote for 20 years before I got a book deal and I still felt undeserving. I knew I’d feel that way when the time came! You just see so many other talented authors out there who aren’t yet published. But you have to feel that authors who have huge success feel that way. Someone like Stephenie Meyer or Suzanne Collins…how must they feel?

    Stephanie
    http://stephie5741.blogspot.com

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    • Absolutely! It’s really interesting because people talk a lot of trash about authors like Stephenie Meyer and EL James, so I wonder if it ever gets to them and they really start to doubt themselves despite their success? I think every super-popular author probably has their haters, it must be hard to ignore them despite all the success.

      Congratulations on your book deal by the way, that’s awesome! Thank you for stopping by!

      Like

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