This 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 article: Despite 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:
- They don’t have enough authors (Kensington has hundreds of authors on their roster).
- 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’).
- 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.