Updated: Jan 12
Imposter syndrome can happen to any writer at any time. Even you!
If you start thinking you are not: 1. good enough, 2. experienced enough, 3. successful enough (or any other negative self-talk) to call yourself a writer, then you may be suffering from imposter syndrome. I always tell people the degree I have the most use out of is my bachelor of science in psychology. It is the foundation for pretty much everything else I earned a degree in. I applied it at work to myself and as a supervisor. I apply it every time I coach a student with their writing. These are based on my opinion and professional experience. I'm not diagnosing you or providing a cure for anything. I'm offering up my personal experiences and hoping they can help you connect in some way.
All that necessary disclosure out of the way, here are my top 10 ways to overcome imposter syndrome:
10. Identify as a writer and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
9. Write. Write. Write.
8. Set yourself up for publication. This means using free resources such as social media where you can build your audience and establish your brand or identity as an author.
7. Research. You have to be able to talk back when people throw jargon and other industry terms at you.
6. Membership. There are plenty of ways to become a member of a writing association or organization and some are free or low cost. Professional membership matters on a job application, so it matters to this job, too.
5. Mantra. Negative talk can become a habit, so every time you think or say something negative about your situation as a writer, counter it with something positive. Example: No one has accepted the article I submitted. Counter: Stephen King had so many rejections the nail he slid them on eventually fell out (from On Writing) so I can deal with more than one rejection and if no one accepts it, I'll start a blog and share it there.
4. Business Plan. Nothing makes a business more manageable and overwhelming and reality than a business plan. You remember that number 7, right? You've done research on the life of authorship and you know you need certain things. What is your plan to get those things? It is ideal for writing to cover the cost of writing, but very few writers start out in that position. Like any other business, you need to save for the startup costs.
3. Register. Once you have a business plan, register your "author" as a business. I'm registered as Creative Writing With Dr. Nagle and that includes N2: Nagle-North Publishing whose authors consist of Tonya Nagle, Ph.D., Cara North, September North, and Echo North. All of that is on my registration. Each state is different, but all the ones I have lived in allow me to report my earnings at tax time and I pay my taxes on them then and there. I distribute through Amazon and Draft2Digital or other retail platforms so I do not collect taxes, those companies do. Again, number 7. Know what you need for your state or country if you are outside the USA.
2. Walk the Walk. Some people will feel like an imposter because they are not doing the work. If you want to tell people you are a writer, you have to remember number 9 and repeat that!
Logic. Here is where the simple truth comes in. If someone volunteers their time twice a week for two hours, are they not a volunteer? If someone works 5 hours on the weekend, are they not employed? The simple fact is...your writing career will not be like someone else's. It's yours. You might only have a few hours a week or a month to dedicate to it, but if you dedicated the time and get the work done...well, you are a writer.
I hope this article reminds you that YOU ARE A WRITER! You are not an imposter. It is normal to feel the strain of professional growth. Stick with it. This is YOUR journey. Set your own compass, measure your own goals, and remember: Every author is a new author to someone! You can quote that. :)
Until next time,
Tonya Nagle, PhD