HEY YOU! Why are you reading this? You’re not a real writer. Why would you even look at this? Go away!!!
Okay, so PLEASE ignore that and come back! Because this month’s Hints & Tips is about dealing with Imposter Syndrome – aka the fear that your writing is no good, that any success you’ve had is a fluke and that everyone will eventually realise you’re a complete fraud. Yes, that feeling.
The good news is that most writers feel this way at some point, even the very successful ones. Everyone is their own worst critic, but worrying that your writing is bad doesn’t mean that it is. If you’re trying your best and putting your heart and soul and all your creative energy into the story you feel compelled to write then you’re NOT a fraud. Published or not, you’re a writer. Welcome to the often neurotic, sleep-deprived and over-caffeinated club. It really sucks sometimes.
I think a lot of writers are afraid to admit what they do, especially when they’re just starting out (I definitely was) because of imposter syndrome. We’re afraid of people laughing at us or saying that we’re not good/important/interesting enough because deep-down we’re afraid they might be right. FYI they’re not.
So how can you stop feeling like an imposter? Well, firstly by remembering that it’s so common. Chat to other writers on social media or in your local RNA group and you’ll find out just how much.
Secondly, don’t compare yourself to other people (especially J.K. Rowling because that’s a pretty high bar). You might wish you’d written that fabulous new bestseller, but you didn’t, so write the next one. Jealousy never leads anywhere good so just enjoy that bestseller, learn from it and keep doing your own thing.
Thirdly and most importantly, don’t give up. This is really tempting because writing is so hard (I know I keep mentioning this, but it’s SO TRUE!) Writing a novel is like trudging up a mountain every day on your own. It’s mentally exhausting as well as isolating and you daren’t look up or down because there’s usually still so far to go. This is when things like Imposter Syndrome kick in because it would be so much easier to stop, but don’t! Keep your head down and keep going. Don’t procrastinate to avoid the mountain and don’t go down a few steps by revising that opening chapter a hundred and ten times. Just carry on until you reach the top. Yes, you’ll have to go back down and then climb it again with editing, but you’ll have muscle memory by then. By the end, you’ll be running up and down and you’ll totally OWN that mountain.
Finally, remember that the RNA will never call you an imposter. We’re all writers and we all know how it feels. So please don’t go away, don’t let anyone make you feel bad about who you are, and just keep writing.
Jenni Fletcher is the author of six historical romances for Mills & Boon and a Visiting Tutor at Bishop Grosseteste University. Despite her advice she is currently procrastinating.