It’s been a while since I posted anything. I even put together a schedule and have several topics that I want to tell y’all about. Most of them are related to research I’ve been doing for my Young Adult series about genetically-engineered teens. I hope to get a few things posted soon.
Writing has been hard lately. And to be perfectly honest, life activities and responsibilities have been chipping away at my writing time to the point that I feel like an imposter writer.
And to top it off, I get asked all the time about my writing—how’s that “little” project going, when are you going to publish something, are you writing, and what have you written since the last time we talked—and any number of similar questions that don’t do a dang thing to make me feel accomplished about the work I have done.
I’m not a newbie writer, but I’m still unpublished. “Imposter!”
Some friends have said, “Just self-publish your book the way it is…” Uh, no. If something isn’t finished, why would I put it out there? Why would I self-publish something I know needs revision? (I tweeted a few things about if people talked to other people the way they talk to writers. You can see the thread here.)
I’m not picking on family and friends who ask these questions. I know people are genuinely curious about what I’m doing and how things are going. I just want you to know what’s going on in my head when you ask those questions.
“Imposter!” <<<<That’s what happens.
So that imposter voice plays around in our thoughts trying to make us think we’re not “real” writers. At a conference key note speech a few years ago, the speaker said that imposter syndrome affects people in most fields and industries, including famous people. Most people have doubts about their skills, abilities, or qualifications at some time or other, especially in (but absolutely not limited to) creative fields. This doubt doesn’t make it true.
Some of the doubt is because we compare our progress to others in our field. We should never compare our progress to that of someone else’s. Nor should we worry about someone else’s opinion about what we should be doing with our work or let those opinions turn into imposter syndrome thoughts.
A wonderful friend of mine turned imposter syndrome into a pirate. We should punch that pirate in the nose and continue doing the thing that we want to do.
But even knowing that I’m not an imposter writer, sometimes I still doubt myself. I’ve been writing stories since I was nine! I wrote a scene during my typing class my freshman year in high school. It made me cry in class. It made me cry every time I read it. I have a master’s degree in literature with an emphasis in young adult fiction and science fiction. I’ve taken many writing craft classes, including master classes. I have the qualifications. But I doubt myself because I’m not published, because the five novels I’ve finished need revisions or editing, because I worry they won’t be good enough. (To be fair, the first novel was a practice run…yeeesh.)
I’m a writer. I may not be a fast writer at the moment. I didn’t quit my day job only to write. I did it to be available to my kids, to rediscover myself, and to do all the necessary things after my husband passed away.
Not being published doesn’t make me an “aspiring” writer. Someone who aspires to do something wants to do that thing but maybe never does that thing. If I were an aspiring writer, I’d look at writing tools and think about using them or I’d say something like, “Someday I’ll write a book.” Someday, I’d like to be a plumber. Aspiring is not doing. I aspire to be published, but I am also doing things that lead me to that goal (even if slowly).
Writing is a thing I do. All the time. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about my work in progress, revision plans, new ideas… All the time.
So when life gets in the way of writing, I have to remind myself of the priorities. I know that the words on the page will happen and that the timing will be right. It doesn’t make me less of a writer when I have to step away from the laptop to get my clothes dryer replaced or help my daughter with homework or go out to eat with my guy.
When we have those doubts, we have to trust our training and make that imposter pirate walk the plank. We haven’t worked our tails off just to be self-effacing and submissive to the false thoughts that try to steal our confidence. We can use those doubts to set achievable goals and keep working.
We shouldn’t let those ridiculous beliefs keep us from achieving our dreams.
What is the thing you do that sometimes makes you feel like an imposter? What kinds of things do you do to help yourself overcome those thoughts?