Walking Through Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a real thing and has flares week by week—sometimes day by day. The definition that came up when I typed it on Google is this:
Have you ever had seasons of life where the writing was almost nonexistent? Where word counts and inspiration were nothing more than a dripping faucet that annoyed you more than it refreshed you? Not to mention scrolling through Facebook or Instagram and seeing all these other authors post their thousands of words they got logged for the week, when you struggle to remember how to get your WIP to The End in the first place.
Then though, you have an opportunity to own that title of Author—and yes, it is a title you can own proudly no matter if you're published or unpublished, traditionally or indie.
That opportunity comes and you smile, thinking about that story or sequel and all the places it'll go. Or a future reader expresses excited impatience as to when it'll be released? The smile gets tight, your heart rate goes up a notch or four...well, y'all get the picture, right?

Imposter Syndrome is an occupational hazard of being a writer. Even the most seasoned pros will admit to it. There are ways we can combat it. But first we have to identify what exactly flares it into that paralyzing, self-loathing beast.
  1. Comparison
    The thief of all joy. Social media plays huge role in this. On one hand, we get real-time engagement with so many dear people, opportunities to get involved in communities for support, and we can make new friends! All the while getting our name/work Out There into the great, wide world.
    The curse? Comparison. It can creep in subtly. Scrolling aimlessly on our phones really messes with our already-shaky confidence as we wonder how we can get our Instagrams to look like that, or we wonder when we'll reach That Milestone a favorite author just met, or How on earth does she log that many words a day?! What's the secret formula?! You get the picture.
  2. Impatience
    I think I've thrown the phrase "Patience is a virtue" into every one of my novels at some point. I grew up with it—you may have, too. This, like comparison, is both a blessing and a curse. An eagerness to meet goals, to cross finish lines—to hold that book baby in your hand after perhaps years of hard labor&mdahs;is something to be clung to. When it morphs into bitter impatience (see point about comparison above), that is when we're edged closer and closer to the high point of Imposter Syndrome: giving up.

See that selfie of mine over there?
Mere minutes after signing in at the second annual Christian Fiction Reader's Retreat, I ran up to my room to drop off a few things so I wouldn't be quite so burdened whilst mingling the entire day. I had to walk slow back down to the main event space, because my Imposter Syndrome was at the highest it's been in a while. I can't even remember the last time I wrote out an entire scene of Margaret and Connor's continuing story.
But here I was, a Participating Author who ended up signing books next to THE Rachel Hauck
As amazing as a time I had at CFRR, reinvigorated to get back to my books? That Imposter Syndrome waxed and waned and I had quite a battle to keep it from utterly paralyzing me.
But why? I already published two books. Ohh yes. Those two books. Aka the most nervewracking and humbling learning curves of my entire life thus far. Because the heart of Imposter Syndrome is inadequacy. The fear/belief that me and what I do/write will never be enough. And it has plagued me my whole life long.
But this is not who I am to define myself as. We are not good enough—without  Christ. But in Christ? He is enough, and so are our best efforts.

How to Combat Imposter Syndrome:

    These black and white numbered tips are like exercises. Good, helpful—but really, really hard to actually do. But so very worth it. 

  1. Remember Whose you are
    Remembering Whose we are takes a lot of mental self-discipline, and even more honest, open communion with the Ultimate Author. He can take anything and everything we're feeling, and is so unbelievably faithful to send us just the right words to sooth our hearts, spur on our stories, and lift us up. He heals up the brokenhearted, the wounded in spirit, and with Him alone we can soar on wings like eagles. Remember He gave you this gift and calling of Author—so keep on talking His ear off about it and don't rely on your own understanding. Without Him we have nothing. Including our books.
  2. Own your title
    Take your art seriously. Honor the calling God's placed on your life by prioritizing it. By planning and setting flexible goals prayerfully. And you are totally allowed to be excited and talk about your books! :) I swiped red lipstick on before my selfie above and pretended to be psyched until it was (quickly) real.
  3. Be humble
    Yes I did just say "Own your title! Proudly!". But being humble is perhaps the hardest part of the last two points. It involves asking for help. Confessing your feelings of inadequacy, doubt and anxiety. First to the Lord—and then to one of your ride-or-die friends. One of those who has seen you through the good, bad, and the ugly. Someone who won't be afraid to tell you the hard things you need to hear—after listening to you without judgment or a platitude bandaid to slap over it.
    Ask for help. Ask even to be reminded why you write in the first place! And don't be afraid to ask someone who's read your story(ies) why they enjoyed it. Or what you could improve on.
  4. Limit social media.
    This, to me, feels like that machine at the gym that does crunches "for me." All through my own effort, but on a bench thingy. Aka my least favorite machine at the gym because my core is super weak. This is SO neccessary, y'all. And trust me I'm preaching to myself here. Keep in close connection with those ride-or-die friends I mentioned, but set a timer. Something. Unless you honestly need to find some information on the interwebs.
    Bonus? You'll have more time to write.

Can you share a time when Imposter Syndrome tripped you up like it did for me at CFRR? And other practical tips to combat it? Asking for a friend. #not.


Words, history, and grace color my days here in The Burgh where I seek out the perfect coffee and red lipstick.

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