Fighting Imposter Syndrome as a Writer

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

In 2016, I wrote a blog post that went viral and got a lot of attention, including attention from a literary agent who encouraged me to turn my blog post into a book proposal. I did not write another blog post until February 2017 because I was so paralyzed by the fear that my successful post was a fluke, an accident, a mistake.

I spent 2017 working on various versions of the proposal and we pitched it to 15 publishers in early 2018. All 15 wanted the proposal — which meant my idea was compelling and people wanted to know more. I accepted an offer to publish from an independent publishing house near Miami, FL and spent 2018 alternating between confidently expressing my ideas in the written word…and freaking out that I should definitely not be writing a book.

Who let me write a book? I’m just a blogger!

I felt out of place writing a real life book, when up until that point I had been “just a blogger.” But I had also made the leap into full time marketing after being “just a freelancer” and now I’m a content manager.

There is no “just” about my work.

Every time you practice your craft, you’re getting better at it. You are developing your work. You are becoming the person who does your work and who is confident in it.

It was easy to joke that my writing was a fluke. It was easy to believe that it was a product of right-topic-right-time rather than a product of making a point well enough that other people related to it on a massive scale.

The reasons I write

I write because talking about my traumatic experiences is healing for me, and inspirational for others. I write because I have ideas that other people relate to. I write for the people who are in places I used to be, who need to hear something that helps them stay hopeful.

I write poetry, essays, blog posts, and long, rambling Facebook posts about trauma and love.

I turn on the audio recording app while I’m driving because I thought a great line I need to remember. I keep a list of ideas I’ve had for future projects.

At the heart of it all, I write because I need to write.

What I write about

At the end of October, I filled up a list of 30 ideas for November with a goal to publish one story on Medium per day in November. But sometimes I wasn’t feeling the topic so I’d write about something different. I have found that when my overall mood and motivation feel lower, I need to stick to topics that are so related to my core story that telling them is easy.

Sometimes I can take an assignment (even one I gave myself) and churn out a good piece of writing. But I find that being able to write about whatever I want feels really good. My heart races when I get deep into a topic about my journey and my healing and the ways my story can inspire others.

I can definitely write about resume writing tips or how to set up a budget. I can write about how to declutter your closet and the best apps for reading enthusiasts. But those topics, even if I’m jazzed about teaching you something, aren’t at the core of who I am as a writer.

It is authentic to my own heart to share stories of my experience so that I can help others get through the parts of their stories that share a common thread with mine.

Stephen King says, “I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.”

What lies does your brain tell you?

Imposter syndrome isn’t just a writer problem — it can affect any of your creative pursuits or even your sense of belonging in social settings or relationships.

Imposter syndrome is always being skeptical that you deserve praise, or love, or acceptance, or nice things.

But imposter syndrome is lying.

You are doing enough just as you are.

Also, you should be writing.

Prone to sudden bursts of encouragement. They/them. Queer, autistic author of bit.ly/GaslightingMillennials

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