Imposter Syndrome; I’m a Writer.
Write & Repeat.
Writing can be so scary. As much as I talk about how healing it is…I feel like I should also address the elephant in the room which is, how the hell do I call myself a writer without feeling like a fraud? It is known that writer’s are some of the most susceptible to be affected by Imposter syndrome; full of self doubt and feelings of unworthiness. I mean, how can I, ReBecca DeFazio, measure up to great writer’s like Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, or amazing modern writers like Lang Leav?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid, went to college, got a writing degree, and still at 27 years old…I feel a terrible ache in my stomach whenever someone asks me what I do. There is something so terrifying about telling people that you are a writer; the followup questions so nerve wracking! “What do you write? What are you working on? Where have you been published?” Ahhh!! All of these questions are so intimidating, especially if you are just trying to get a career off the ground. If you aren’t making any money, don’t have a book on the market, etc… People tend to look at you like “okay…?” and sweat starts to pour off of your body like you’ve been standing in 105 degree summer heat for an hour… I can say, it gets better with practice though. I have taken this year to really try to sit with the fear, to say the words, to answer the questions, to allow myself to feel like a fraud, and maybe accept it a little.
“You’ll be amazed how much you have in common with Edith Wharton (who struggled to feel worthy of success), Louisa May Alcott (who badly needed money), Madaleine L’Engle (who could have papered an entire house with her rejection letters) and other writers…”―Nava Atlas,The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life
Although, with a little research we can at least, not feel so alone in these feelings. So many writer’s before us have gone through all of the hardships of being a writer. Creating art is such a difficult and vulnerable thing, especially when it comes to something like poetry. Here we are, pouring our hearts and our minds into a piece of writing that is then read by people all around the world and comparing us to all that came before us! I don’t think the doubt of it all ever really goes away and if it does, then maybe I’d feel like I shouldn’t be writing anymore. So, there’s that… The love that I have for my words is an intense one, I would compare it to the way that I feel about my children; protective but unsure if I’m doing anything right.
I can say that sometimes I am able to pour my heart into a piece and it feels so good; doubtless and beautiful. Those are the winning moments. Those moments are the ones that I truly live for, the ones where this artist’s curse doesn’t dig into my skin and make me question all of my hard work or my emotions. I think though that a lot of our doubts are that we as writer’s tend to have some perfectionism problems lying under the surface. At least, I know I do. Whenever I catch a typo in a poem that I’ve already posted to Instagram, I feel as though I could die (a little dramatic, sure. I am.) and it will drive me crazy until I can bury it under new poems (or if I caught it early enough, take it down and repost it) until eventually it happens again. Writing is full of mistakes, full of lessons to be learned, full of growth…full of self-doubt and uncertainty… and yet we do it anyways and we love it. Maybe, this is what makes me and you, writers.
“Writing is always full of self-doubt, but the first book [Torch] is really full of self-doubt, and it was much more of a struggle to keep the faith. By the time I wrote Wild, I was familiar with that feeling of doubt and self-loathing, so I just thought, ‘Okay, this is how it feels to write a book.’” —Cheryl Strayed
I don’t think that every time you write a book, a blog post, a poem, a magazine article, etc, that you will feel self-loathing but I think there will always be that little voice in the back of our minds asking, “is this good enough?” and that’s okay! We just have to start practicing answering that voice with. “Yes! I’m (insert your name) and I am a writer.” Doubt is a feeling and we can feel it and move on!
So, now that we’ve figured out that Imposter Syndrome is just a thing that happens to some of us… Are there things you can do to get over it? I’m not an expert but I’ll give you some things that are helping me as I deal with this everyday…
- Sit with the feelings. Accept them. Breathe them out. Remember that doubt is just a feeling! You are in control of your feelings and even though sometimes they suck, you can say, “Okay, I feel this, I felt it and now I’m going to stop.” Meditation is something that really helps me to get out of my brain and into my heart and it makes a big difference!
- If part of your imposter syndrome is that you don’t feel like you’re good enough to be called a writer…practice. Write your heart out. Practice makes perfect, right? So, the more that you write, the more it will feel like it’s normal and “right.” I take a lot of time out my day to just write and I can say that it helps. There is always a little doubt in the back of my mind but I can say it’s becoming less.
- Read. Read. Read. Get to know other writer’s. Get to know their writing styles, their struggles, their stories, their books. I really think it helps to see that other people are doing it and doing it well. If they can do it, why can’t you?
- Relax!! Writing is supposed to be fun! I understand it won’t always be that way. Sometimes it will be hard, heartbreaking, emotional, etc, but if you love writing and you want to be a writer then you also have to allow time to just write and enjoy it! Don’t always compare yourself to others around you, greats before you, etc. If you are meant to do something, the space is yours. No need to always take it so seriously, there is no rush. No one can take this from you.
Thank you so much for reading this blog post! I hope that you enjoyed it and found it relatable and helpful. Please leave me a comment if you believe you struggle with Imposter Syndrome! I’d love to hear about your experience. Happy Wednesday and have an amazing rest of your week!