Battling Imposter Syndrome

Journal and pen

I have a confession to make.  When it comes to writing, I feel like an imposter.  I have this idea in my head of what a writer is and I am not it.  I didn’t go to college to major in any form of writing, I don’t have any writing credentials, I haven’t published anything with my name on it (except for this blog), and I don’t make money writing.  I started this blog in hopes that maybe it might touch one person’s life, but I saw myself as a blogger not a writer. I have always written as a hobby but never dared called myself an actual writer.  Despite having people in my life tell me that they think I am a great writer, I felt like actually calling myself one would just be this facade that everyone would see through.

Imposter syndrome creeps in through the cracks and makes itself at home.  It has paralyzed me for many years.  Every time I have gone to start writing a novel I would quit writing it shortly after.  What right did I have to be writing a book if I wasn’t really a writer? I had done a brief stint in the past as a volunteer writing product review feature articles for an online organization, but none of them were ever published with my byline.  I never put myself out there to pitch story ideas to websites because I thought I wasn’t good enough.  I never gave myself a chance.

My mother-in-law invited me to an online group for women writers a week ago.  Very shortly after I joined, a discussion popped up about imposter syndrome.  To my surprise, many of the women in the group felt like imposters.  Women who have been published, have books on the shelves of bookstores, and editors; women with MFAs, impressive credentials, and even those without any college degree have all been caught in the grasp of imposter syndrome.

I felt encouraged and inspired by the confessions of these women to take a hard look at myself.  Where did these feelings of imposter syndrome evolve from? How long had they been there? These were not easy questions for me to answer.  These feelings have been inside of me for as long as I can remember.  They had latched on and seeped into my very being.  I realized the most important question was: What was I going to do about it? I sat with that question and came up with one answer: I had to break through it.

It took a lot of courage to allow myself to be vulnerable, but I went ahead and pitched a story idea to a website.  I really didn’t think I would hear back.  That voice inside my head whispered to me that they would see right through my pitch and know that I wasn’t a writer.  The very next morning I received a reply.  In the email she said, “We like you! And we would like to publish your story.”  They were even going to pay me for my story.  I re-read the email a couple of times not believing my eyes.  They like me? They want to publish my story with my own author byline and bio? And they are going to pay me for it? I was so excited that I did a happy dance.  My son got excited at my excitement and began clapping for me.  Those feelings of being an imposter began to start slipping back into the shadows.  This victory even gave me the courage to write a whole chapter of a book I am aspiring to write.  I have even started looking into venturing into the world of freelance writing.

Despite feeling like I have done a complete 180, a sheepish voice in my head continues to ask, “Am I a writer?” Right now I am still trying to get comfortable with calling myself one.  I am taking baby steps and feel I have made some great progress.  I can’t let imposter syndrome win.  One day I will hold my head up high and  confidently say, “I am a writer.”