What exactly is #ImposterSyndrome? And how can you over come the feelings of self-doubt? Well, I’m not an expert by any means, just a writer (like you) and a consummate dreamer with a desire to share my own experiences. So, let’s dig into this thing that forever plagues all us artsy creative types.
Has anyone ever called you a name? Maybe something like:
Okaaaaayyyy... So maybe no one ELSE has called you those names, but have you ever called yourself those things? You know, the nasty words your mind says to itself after you’ve written a piece you think is mildly or even really good. That's exactly what Imposter Syndrome is; the little seed of self-doubt that plants inside your brain, trying to grow and creep and force you to give up your dreams. It makes you want to delete the work or never hit send on a submission. It makes you believe that your work could never measure up to anyone else’s and that your work is not worthy of being read or being loved.
If you are reading this and saying, NO! I’ve never heard those words in my head. I’ve never felt that way. I only think happy, pink, fluffy marshmallow thoughts about my writing—well gentle person, I commend you. Because you are a rare bird to have never trembled with fear, to have never had that moment in which you felt like you weren’t good enough.
But, for the rest of us totally normal writers, Imposter Syndrome is real. Wait! Don't go! That's not how this story ends. I have some advice for getting over it.
But, if I tell you my secret, you have to promise not to laugh. Pinky swear? Okay—
My secret is Jack.
No, not Jack Daniels.
You know, the other Jack.
If you don’t know who I’m talking about, open a new tab and Google the show LOST. Now that you're familiar with Dr. Jack Shephard, a heroic survivor of flight Oceanic 815, I can tell you about his method for overcoming fear and how easily it relates to overcoming Imposter Syndrome.
The Jack Shephard method tells you to let the fear in. But only for a few seconds. Then you banish it, you cast it out and move on with your day.
Example: My brain, "Your latest YA sci-fi sapphic romance is complete and utter shit and no one will ever want to read it.”
Solution: I count for five seconds. One, two, three, four, five… and after that, I get busy. I send out a query letter or an email to a writing contest. Or I engage with my writing group. Or I go to the library or bookstore and pick a new book to read. I don’t allow the moment of fear ruin the rest of my day. Instead I choose to participate in activities that will help me succeed as a writer.
At its core, Imposter Syndrome is the fear of success. Once you understand that, and you choose success, it's really easy to count to five.
There, that’s my secret on how to overcome and destroy that seed of doubt. You can also check out my blog 3 Things Every New Writer Needs to Hear for more helpful tips.
Head on over to Twitterverse and let me know what you think @writingwithreed. Also, shout out to all the fans of LOST. You get me. We can be friends.