If you're a creative or non-fiction writer, you likely have felt the tendrils of imposter syndrome wrap around your chest. Its hissing whisper will encourage you to give up on your dreams, you're not that talented anyway, and everyone will eventually see you for the phony writer you've become.
I've been there. You've been there. And these intrusive thoughts do nothing but bruise our confidence and turn us away from the keyboard, relegating our ego to nothing but a husk of what it used to be.
But it's all drivel. And you have to shut it down as quickly as a fingersnap by picturing these voices like another bothersome gnat you swat daily, if not hourly.
Pop-up ads on websites.
You know them all too well by now: You visit a website and suddenly all these pop-up ads spring up on the screen, telling you to subscribe to this or that newsletter or begging you to try this new shampoo. You're no rook, so your wrist is quick to react and your fingers click on the ad's 'X' on the top right and the ad disappears. Another pop-up appears, though, but you're feeling like a Call of Duty sniper and that ad is quickly X'd into marketing oblivion.
Now, apply that same reactive measure to those thoughts of being an imposter in your craft. You have no more skill than anyone else. X! You think your idea is great, you think the editor will like your pitch, but he's laughing at you right now. X it up!
Be merciless with your pop-up ad whack-a-mole. Don't let those ugly thoughts pull you away from the blank page, because writers write; they don't worry about writing, or what people will think about their work. Your first draft, especially, should be anxiety-free, otherwise you'll fret about every sentence or paragraph transition until those loud thoughts begin to worm their way into your brain once again.
Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird has a similar piece of advice for quieting those voices poised to defeat your writing sessions with critical and barking accusations: Picture them as mice you drop into a jar. Then imagine there's a volume-control button on the jar, and turn it all the way down to dismiss those "angry, neglected, guilt-mongering voices." Then watch "the frantic mice lunge at the glass, trying to get to you. Leave it down, and get back to your shitty first draft."
Whatever fantastical journey you go on to trash those unhelpful voices, find your way to writing peace by recognizing that you are not a fake, not a charlatan just trying to rake in dollars by passing yourself off as a mediocre writer. No, you have something valuable to stay, you have talent in how you want to express it, and you're not going to let any unwarranted doubt get in your way.
About This Blog
I write about levelling up your career as a writer and the steps you need to take to get there.