Dealing With Imposter Syndrome As A Writer

What is a writer? This is what pops up when you Google it:

Three definitions for “writer” via Google

Are you a writer?

According to the dictionary, if you haven’t published anything, don’t write for work, or aren’t known for writing in a specific way, you’re not a writer.

But that’s not true!

If you regularly write stories, poetry, essays, or anything else for fun, or write in a journal, you’re a writer. There isn’t a specific task you must complete to be considered a writer. There’s no “write” of passage.

If you write, you’re a writer.

It took me forever to believe that.

I didn’t feel like I could call myself a writer for the longest time. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I wrote stories for fun, but I didn’t call myself a writer. I certainly couldn’t call myself a writer in college because I never wrote for fun and spent a lot of time questioning if I even liked writing while I obtained my degree in English. (Dramatic, I know.) When I got my first freelance writing job in March 2020, it took me a couple of weeks to realize that I was “officially” a writer.

This is imposter syndrome.

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is when you can’t give yourself the credit you deserve because you feel like you’re faking it or doing it wrong. It’s not something you can be officially diagnosed with, but many people experience these feelings.

If you’re a writer with imposter syndrome, you might find writing challenging when you can’t even recognize your own talent. Perhaps you think that every paragraph or stanza is utter garbage, and your piece gets worse with every page. Maybe you deny yourself the title of Writer because you don’t have anything to show for yourself. Maybe you have awards, certificates, and degrees, but you still feel like you haven’t earned any of the praise you receive.

Imposter syndrome rears its ugly head in many ways.

My imposter syndrome looks like this:

  • I don’t like to tell people I’m a writer because then they’d ask me about what I’m writing, and I don’t have anything good enough to show them yet.
  • I don’t have a book published yet, so how can I be a writer? I’m a blogger, at best.
  • So many writers are better than me.
  • It’s difficult to write for more than thirty minutes at a time without distractions. Writers can write effortlessly.
  • I don’t read often enough which affects my ability to be a writer. If I don’t read, I’m not a writer.
  • I always have to look up definitions and I tend to spell a lot of words wrong. What kind of writer struggles like this?

It’s all silly, right?

I know I don’t need a bookshelf full of my work, be capable of focusing for six hours straight, or have perfect grammar to be a writer. Yet, I often worry about things like that.

Imposter syndrome can also cause you to work harder just to feel like you earned the title you already have. If you’re on the payroll as a Writer, Blogger, or Editor, or perhaps someone who manages these roles, you may find yourself working twice as hard just to feel like you deserve that title.

What To Do About Imposter Syndrome

Overcoming imposter syndrome will require a lot of work on your part because it will require you to change your mindset and thought patterns. Here are some things you can try if you don’t know where to start.

Look At The Facts

Those who tend to feel imposter syndrome are likely so overwhelmed by feelings that they overlook logic.

Analyze your life. What makes you a writer? Do you write poetry, fiction, or personal essays? Do you earn money for what you write? Do you volunteer your writing skills?

I’ll say it again: If you write, you’re a writer.

Perhaps you’re hesitant to call yourself a writer because there are Writers who get paid to write for a living. Don’t confuse the noun with the proper noun. You can be a writer without being a Writer. The only difference is that corporate gave you that capital W!

Talk About It

I don’t like to talk about how I feel, but I start to feel better when I finally do. Whether you turn to a family member, friend, Twitter mutual, or a therapist, talking about it will likely make you feel better.

If you’re not much of a talker, try writing it down in a journal first. Taking the time to sit with your thoughts and put them on the page might benefit you, too. Once you’ve faced your feelings, you might be able to talk about them with someone else.

Show Off Your Work

This one will contradict how you’re feeling, and that’s the point. If you don’t show people your work because “it’s not good enough,” that’s more of a reason to show it off! You think it’s not good enough, but how will you know if you’re right or wrong if you don’t receive any feedback? You may be pleasantly surprised once you let others see what you’re capable of.

Here are simple ways to show off your work:

  • Let a friend or family member read what you wrote recently
  • Start publishing posts on a blog
  • Trade stories or poems with a writer friend
  • Ask someone to critique your work
  • Post a sample of your work on social media

If you haven’t convinced yourself that you’re a writer, you might benefit from hearing others saying it. Letting others into this part of your life is difficult, but it’s worth doing.

I don’t let anyone see the novel I’m writing, and I spend far too long making sure my blog posts are near perfection before I publish them. I know firsthand that this suggestion is difficult, but that’s why I’m suggesting it!

Connect With Other Writers

Grow your circle of writing buddies and have them look at your work from time to time, whether it’s for critique or just a simple, “what do you think?” Writers can give you more helpful insight than your non-writer friends can. You’ll get more honest feedback if you’re in a writing group. The people you know typically spare your feelings, so it’s good to let people you’re not as close with see your work.

If you’re short on writing acquaintances, join groups, follow writers on social media, or follow writers’ blogs.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Stop Writing

Everyone deals with self-doubt at some point. The best thing you can do to overcome it by yourself is to keep writing. Imposter syndrome may convince you to give up, but that’s the last thing you should do!

Even if you can’t bring yourself to let others see your work, write every day. If you can’t convince yourself you’re good at what you do, write every day. You’re going to struggle, especially when your imposter syndrome is hard at work, but that’s all the more reason to keep trying.

4 Reasons Why It’s So Hard to Start Writing

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You know how hard it is to start writing.

Although I will be specifically talking about writing in this post, I think this difficulty of beginning can apply to any project. You have an idea, you think it through, you promise yourself you’ll start it tomorrow, and then tomorrow never comes because you keep putting it off.

I often find myself staring at the blinking cursor at the top of the page with no words there. I have an idea, but how do I start it? Dialogue? Describe the setting? How do I start off a blog post? I’m sure many of you can relate to this to some extent.

Why is it so hard to start? I have a few ideas about this.

We fear not being able to finish what we started.

Failing doesn’t feel good. Nobody wakes up excited to fail something. So if we don’t start a project, we can’t have the opportunity to fail…right? That’s not a great philosophy to live by, but I think some of us might have that subconscious thought from time to time.

The only way to overcome this fear is to attack it head-on. It can be difficult to finish what you started writing, especially if it’s long, but imagine how accomplished you’ll feel once you have it done. Let that be what drives you to the finish line.

The blank page is daunting.

A cursor blinks amid a sea of white, sending a shiver down your spine. How is one supposed to create a brilliant blog post, a highly-detailed universe, or moving poetry out of nothing? Isn’t it wild how our imaginations can create absolutely anything we want it to through words?

To do this, we need discipline. I’ve learned that if I don’t sit myself down and say, “You’re going to write whether you like it or not,” it won’t get done. The empty page is the biggest speed bump. Just crack your knuckles and get to writing, even if the words don’t flow right away.

We don’t know how to start.

If you’ve ever heard of NaNoWriMo, you probably know what planners and “pantsers” are. I tend to be a “pantser,” meaning that I rarely plan out what I’m going to write. I’m becoming a planner, however. I’ve learned that it keeps me focused. But my pantser way of life always leaves me wondering how I’m going to begin a story.

I spend a lot of time thinking about my story ideas as movies. Do I picture a drone-like view of the setting first, or dialogue between two characters that reveal a little bit about the situation? It’s difficult to decide most of the time, but the best way I overcome this is to pick one and write. If I end up hating it, that’s fine. I can always change it later!

I have also learned that the best way to start writing is to start writing. Sometimes I begin with a journal entry in a different document. I spend a few minutes writing about my day or what I hope to accomplish in my writing session. Once I get started, it’s easy for me to switch over to my story and write for that because I already built up the momentum.

Writing can be hard work.

Writing doesn’t sound hard. All you have to do is transfer your idea onto paper/word processor via writing or typing with the power of language. That’s it. Easy peasy.

Sometimes, writing is neither easy nor peasy. Focusing can be a chore, there are one hundred other things you should be doing, you’d rather take a nap, the chair is too uncomfortable, or you have to face a topic that’s really uncomfortable to write. There will always be a reason not to write. When you’re faced with the temptation to back away from the computer or paper, ask yourself this:

What made me want to write this in the first place?

What put that blog post in your mind? What sparked that idea for your next chapter? What is that thought you so desperately want to share with the world? Things worth doing will be hard to do. Remind yourself why you wanted to do it and use that as motivation. Write it down on a sticky note and put it on the wall in front of you, if you have to. Write it on your hand, if that will help. You’ve set out to write for one reason or another, so you need to commit and finish.

What are your reasons for not writing? What makes it so hard for you to start a new project? I’d love to discuss it in the comments!

Creativity is Necessary

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Hey there! My name is Kaleigh. This is my new blog, although I’ve tried blogging before as a young teen. Hopefully, I erased all traces of them from the internet – some things you just don’t want your name on after a while!

I have always loved writing. As a kid, I’d write all sorts of little stories, and when I was eleven, I decided I wanted to be an author when I grew up. Ever since then, I’ve written for fun but have never really shown anybody my work. Being shy and wanting to be a writer is not a great mix. Fortunately, I just graduated from college with a BA in English and a minor in technical writing, so my writing career is about to begin.

I graduated from Texas Tech University on December 13, 2019.

That’s why I wanted to start blogging. I wanted a way to make sure I’m writing each week and getting it read by people, so I thought blogging would be a great way to get things started. This blog will be a mix of lifestyle and writing. At first, I thought I wanted to stay professional on this blog, but I personally love a blog much more when I feel like I’m getting to know the person behind the keyboard. I plan to keep it mostly about writing, but I might get enthusiastic about something else here and there!

I aim to post on this blog at least once a week, preferably on Mondays, although this is subject to change. I’m transitioning from college to job hunting, so I don’t know what my schedule will look like. My comments are open, so please feel free to leave your thoughts! I think it’s essential to speak your mind, and I love engaging in conversation with others online, so I will be sure to respond!

Creativity has always been important in my life. When I was very young, I wanted to be an artist. I would often draw a picture of myself painting on an easel. I guess I lost interest or faith in my ability to draw because I eventually turned to storytelling. I can’t remember exactly when my love of writing began, but I do remember my fourth-grade language arts teacher using my essay as an example to the class of what good writing looks like. She was impressed with my metaphor, “an ocean of relief came over me.” That must have given me enough confidence to keep writing because I’ve been doing it ever since. The next year when I had a friend spend the night, I let her read a story I had been writing for fun, and she told me that she forgot it wasn’t an actual book. I often wonder if she truly meant that, but the fact that she even said it meant the world to me.

Throughout my teenage years, I started to seek out other means of creativity. Writing was fun, but I needed more. I tried knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, embroidery, scrapbooking, soapmaking, and that’s only naming a few. I liked crocheting the best, and I still crochet from time to time.

I think it’s essential to create, no matter what medium is used to do it. We can put so much of ourselves into the things we make without even realizing it. No two pieces of art – whether it’s a story, a painting, or a hat – look the same. All forms of art allow us to connect with its maker in a unique way.

I found myself in a funk when I was about fifteen years old. It seemed like the writer’s block would never end. For the longest time, I couldn’t think of a single decent idea to play with. Eventually, I did think of something, but then I couldn’t get started. I thought I had finally lost interest in writing and almost gave up on my dream of being a published author even though I hadn’t yet tried. Maybe that’s why I searched for other creative outlets. When I can’t create, I feel silenced as if I’m unable to speak my mind. I feel this way when I’m uninspired to write, when I have no ideas about what to crochet, or when I can’t find the motivation to do anything artistic. It’s not a good feeling at all, and admittedly, I’ve been creatively silenced for a long time.

Yes, I’m blogging to make sure I keep writing so I can get my name out there, but I’m also blogging to get my voice back. The past few years have taught me that waiting for motivation and inspiration is silly; sometimes, you have to force your way through the mud and take back what’s yours.

I struggled quite a bit with how to get this blog started. I wanted an About Me post to help me establish who I am and what I want this blog to be, but what was I supposed to say? If I wrote about school and experience, I could just point you to my resume, which is on the website already. If I wrote about my dog, it might attract more readers (because who doesn’t like dogs?), but that wouldn’t be about me. Asking “what’s interesting about me?” can quickly turn into an existential crisis, so I tried to avoid that question.

I can’t mention the family dog without showing him off! This is Pepper. He’s a 13-year-old dachshund/rat terrier mix that may also be part Chihuahua.

Creativity. That’s me. This introductory post stems from a realization about myself I had within the past year. I’ve changed a lot over the years, but my passion for creativity has always stayed the same. So that’s how I’m choosing to introduce myself. That’s all you really need to know about me, and don’t be surprised if it becomes a common theme in my blog posts.

What I find to be comical about this is my deep interest in technical writing, which is a straightforward form of writing that cuts out the fluff. This is usually found in instruction manuals, business documents like memos, and so on. In my “About Me” blurb on my website, I mention that I used to make technical documents for fun.

Technical and creative. I loved getting to imagine and create characters and towns of my own in my stories I wrote for fun, but I also enjoyed writing out rules and explaining processes. That was genuinely fun for me. I believe I also made a newsletter from a template with Microsoft Word that had “news” about what was happening around the house. At one point, I made a business card for grammar corrections since I had one specific friend that I seemed to always correct when it came to grammar and spelling. I suppose I have two sides of me, and I find them both equally enjoyable.

My website is mostly geared toward technical writing since creating it was a requirement for one of my last college courses. I’m grateful this was an assignment because I’ve wanted my own website for a long time, but for me, starting is always the most challenging part. My goal is to slowly integrate my creative writing side into the site because creative and technical writing are both equally important in my life, and I want to be able to use both skills in my career. I don’t necessarily want one without the other.

Some questions I’d like to leave you with: What is your creative outlet? How do you speak your mind without saying a word? I believe everyone is creative in some way. (Organizing a closet to death counts! That is definitely not my voice.)