Toolbox 28: Imposter Syndrome

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This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.


Imposter Syndrome

What is it?

‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence. They seem unable to internalize their accomplishments, however successful they are in their field.

from Harvard Business Review

What does it feel like?

…can leave people fearing that they will be exposed as a “fraud”, usually in their work lives.

from Independent

Do you have these symptoms?

  • Have Difficulty Accepting Praise
  • Tend to Discount Your Success
  • Often Described as a Perfectionist
  • Actually Dread Success, in Some Ways
  • Focus More on What You Haven’t Done
  • Convinced You’re Not Enough
  • Attribute Success to Anything But Your Skill Set or Ability
  • Go Overboard With Task and Goal-Setting

What to do about it?

Talk it out. Learn more about it. Track your accomplishments and celebrate them. Accept perfection is impossible. And STOP THE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK.

We are people first; writers second. And we need to use self care and kindness not just on others but on ourselves. If you wouldn’t say something to someone you care about, then don’t dare say it to yourself.

Words have power. Each of us know this. Be kind to yourself and if you suffer from imposter syndrome don’t let it drag you down.

Because the bottom line is, self judgment and condemnation is bad. Very bad.

Have you ever dealt with this? What did you do to fend it off?

Gleaned from:

34 responses to “Toolbox 28: Imposter Syndrome

  1. Thanks for this post: I suffer from most of those symptoms but never realised it was Imposter syndrome. When I do well in my creative assignments for university I keep telling myself I could do better, or it was a fluke. I need to stop the negative self talk 🙂

  2. Be kind and respect each other.

    Sorry, with everything that’s gone on, I’ve forgotten about Riot.

  3. I’m kind of going through this with my latest WIP comparing it to an author friend’s work which paints lovely word pictures through her lyrical language. Her arc of the story is perfect. Mine? not so much. I keep telling myself to stop comparing, but it also makes me try harder and do better in my writing. I don’t want to lose my self confidence, so I have to stop. I thought I gave up perfectionism when I was 12, but it rears its ugly head ever so often even 50+ years later. Thanks for this informative post.
    JQ Rose

  4. I do suffer from a lot of those symptoms! It’s hard not to at times. The convinced your not enough is a big one. Always comparing myself to others and seeing what they do as what I can’t do. 😦 It sucks. It’s easy said than done some says to not give in to the negative thoughts, but gotta keep at it.

    • I think that we all do. Somehow it is worse for writers because we face so much rejection in our submitting lives. And honest reviews sometimes hurt too.

      Everyone has a right to an opinion. Unfortunately, not all of them are about how much they love our work.

  5. Good tips for those inevitable moments of self-doubt. Impostor syndrome isn’t something that bothers me much, but distractibility sure is–especially now!

  6. Yes, I struggle with it often especially when I am asked to handle something I feel inadequate for, but generally, do it anyways and it works out.

  7. Yep yep and yep. Luckily, I have a wonderful husband I actually believe when he offers praise.

  8. I’ve talked to some fairly successful and talented writers who STILL feel this way. Imposter Syndrome isn’t just a newbie thing, and talking yourself out of the ugly black hole it can land you in is not easy! Good post!

  9. Great post! I feel like writers and other creative people tend to suffer from some these things more often than others, or maybe it just seems that way. It’s good to be reminded not to discount your successes. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  10. What a sweet post Anna. Thank you 🙂

  11. I hadn’t heard of Sounds interesting. I’ll check it out more later. Great post and bullet points on imposter syndrome. I’m pretty sure I do a lot of that. Thanks, Anna!

  12. All the time. And often comparing myself to others; well, that just never seems to end well….

  13. Thanks for this post! It’s always a nice reminder that I’m not alone lol I literally feel like an imposter as a human. Like, am I even being a human right?

  14. Victoria Marie Lees

    Imposter Syndrome? Wow! I feel like that. A lot. Not all the time, but a lot. Thanks for the explicit definitions and attributes. All best to you, Anna!

  15. How do you know me so well? All those symptoms describe me. I’d heard of this Syndrome before, but never realized what it was or that it would apply. Wow! Thanks for the post. And, I like that image of the girl and the dog. Am I supposed to see two different images in that, like the young/old lady? It is drawn in a similar way. Take care, Anna! And, don’t forget to heed your own advice. 🙂

  16. Yep, I’ve been down this road more times than I care to count! Writing’s personal nature makes imposter syndrome in this domain all the more painful, I think. I’ve found that some meditation, talking with people I trust, and going back and reading old work that I feel proud of have helped me get past it, and it certainly has become less crippling in recent years. Thanks for sharing!

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