We all have moments when we start to doubt our ability to succeed as writers. It’s normal — especially early on — to hit walls and almost convince yourself you can’t do it.
Some people deal with these false beliefs more frequently — and more intensely — than others. Experts call it “impostor syndrome.”
Impostor syndrome makes successful people feel like they’re somehow faking their accomplishments. Many of them think they did not actually earn them.
I am one of those people. I have been for a long time.
My impostor syndrome rises and falls in unpredictable intervals. Several weeks ago, it went from halting work on my novel to impacting my performance at my full-time job.
I began to believe I wasn’t actually qualified to write for my employer. This was, of course, not true. But it felt as though it was.
It affected me so deeply that my weekly production dropped. I became paranoid that I would forget to cite a fact, spending too much time going over every article I wrote trying to eliminate every possible reason someone could come up with for tearing me down.
Despite multiple reassurances that my work was exceptional and I had nothing to worry about, I could not stop wondering if I was secretly living a lie.
I let it affect my work. So much so that the performance hit became noticeable, and might have cost me my job if I hadn’t snapped out of it and stuffed those feelings down for later consideration.
Impostor syndrome will do everything it can to try to break you.
And no matter how many attempts you might make to shake it off, it will continue to follow you. It will become the shadow you cannot get rid of. The aura you cannot ignore.
Impostor syndrome is not something you get over. You can never fully break away from it.
But you can learn to live with it. And thrive despite it.
If you deal with impostor syndrome, you may live your whole life feeling like your accomplishments aren’t real. That you aren’t as good at what you do as everyone says you are. That you do not deserve the praise and recognition you are given.
That does not mean you cannot achieve your biggest dreams, that you aren’t skilled, or that you won’t earn that praise.
You just might have days that are hard to get through. Moments you doubt your ability to create good things. Weeks when it feels like nothing you’re doing actually matters.
You can continue on anyway. You have to. You don’t have a choice.
Not if you’re serious about your success.
Don’t let this thing hold you back or keep you from your goals. It makes things harder, but they are not impossible. Push through, and keep going. You won’t regret it.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.