Anyone who’s ever written anything will tell you that there are some days the confidence in your writing just doesn’t come. You read over yesterday’s words and you ask yourself why anyone would read “this crap”. Confidence issues can come out of seeming nowhere, and if they aren’t handled, lead to writing impostor syndrome.
Here are some of the things that can contribute to writing Impostor Syndrome so you can stop them before it destroys your writing confidence! Keep writing, Writer!
This is the 5th in a five-part series on finding and conquering the 5 areas of chaos in your life so you can get more writing done. You can catch the whole series here.
7 things that lead to writing Imposter Syndrome & hurt your writing confidence
There are a few things that can take a toll on your writing confidence and you’ve probably experienced all of them at some point. You may be experiencing some, or even all, of them now. Sometimes, they can hit you hard enough to leave you with a bad case of Impostor Syndrome.
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What’s writing Impostor Syndrome?
Impostor (or Imposter) Syndrome is when you feel like you are a fraud.
Here are some of the most common ones and what you can do to get the chaos out.
1. Confidence struggles and low self-esteem
We all get twinges of low self-esteem sometimes, but the difference between confident people and unconfident people is what we do when we feel those twinges. It’s no judgment—it’s just that one reaction will help you stay confident, and the other will make it harder to feel confident.
It takes conscious effort to push yourself back into the confident box, but it’s worth that effort.
When you feel those twinges of low self-esteem, stop and tell yourself, “This is a normal feeling that all people and all brains feel sometimes. It’s just a little brain glitch, and it’s not true.”
The hardest part about being confident is believing you’re confident. But it’s also the ONLY part to being confident.
2. Setbacks & failures
Everyone has setbacks and everyone experiences failures, especially writers who often receive multiple rejections a day during submissions. It’s part of the human experience and it’s a GOOD thing.
When we don’t ever have setbacks or fail at something we want to do, then we don’t ever grow. We need to fail sometimes.
- It strengthens our resolve… or breaks it entirely, so we build it anew.
- It toughens our skin… even though it can sometimes take a few tries.
- It teaches us to see details… and sometimes the big picture.
Appreciate your setbacks and failures. Value them. And then milk them for everything they’re worth so that next time you start a new piece of writing, you’re that much more confident than you were last time.
3. Decision fatigue
When you have too many options to choose from, your brain goes haywire. When you are trying to decide what to work on—the short story, the blog post, the newsletter to your readers—it’s going to pull you in too many directions, and you’ll get decision fatigue.
It doesn’t matter how complete your pro/con list or how precise your statistics are. We are not logical beings, and there will always be some degree of emotion attached to every thought we ever have.
This is a good thing.
This keeps us human and allows us to live meaningful lives.
But it can also be a pain in the ass when it comes to things like deciding which novel project you want to work on.
You can set yourself up for success here by scheduling days you work on each type of writing project.
4. Information overload
Similar to decision fatigue, but more often to do with the fast-pace of our modern lives. It’s your Facebook and Twitter feeds, your “Pin Now, Read Later” pins, your TBR pile, and all the tabs you have open related to the ‘acoustics of pine wood panelling’ for your next cozy mystery.
When it comes to research, sometimes we really do need to go wide before we go deep, but learning when and how to narrow down our focus is the key to staying on track and not getting bogged down in irrelevant details.
Writers need to be especially aware of this because when you spend too much time on the details that your productivity suffers, your writing confidence can take a hit, too.
5. Comparing yourself to others
You know you shouldn’t do this, and yet, sometimes it still happens. It happens to everyone. Even the really confident people. But the more you do it, the more you’ll feel those twinges of low self-esteem and questions about the worth of your own writing.
I can’t force you to stop comparing yourself to other people, but I can offer you this:
By setting your path to someone else’s, you are more likely to fail. In fact, you WILL fail.
Because what you see on the outside of someone else’s success is not the full story. In their heads are all of the insights you can’t grasp, the failures you haven’t learned from, the intuition you don’t have the years of experience to form, and the understanding of what it means to succeed the way they do—because you can’t read their mind.
I love this quote! Being a Ravenclaw, I get frustrated when I feel like I don’t understand some quantum physics theory, can’t figure out how to bake well, or don’t see myself improving when I try to do a handstand. A lot of the time, I put all of my self-worth on being *good* at something or *knowing* something. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But that’s stupid. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So when I need a little self-love pick-me-up, I think of this quote. The whole que sera sera attitude is a good reminder that I can’t control everything, so who gives a Faulkner whether I completely understand the Uncertainty Principle or have the core strength to flip myself upside down and stand there on one hand. I just have to keep trying, and if the fates are in favor, it’ll happen.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ PS – If you’re struggling with these feelings or any other writing energy drain, I’ve got some tips for you. (link in bio!)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #fantasyWIPdecember #writerssociety #writersociety #amwriting #writerslife #happywriter #writerssupportingwriters #authorssupportingauthors #authorlife #authorlove #amediting #writinginspiration #lifeofawriter #ilovewriting #writerlife #writersofinstagram #igwriter #igwriters #writers_den_ #writersonig #writerscircle #writewritewrite #wordsmith #authorquotes #writingquotes #instawriter #writerscorner #writerscommunityofinstagram #writerscommunityoninstagram #indieauthors https://www.booksandalchemy.com/causes-of-writers-block/
You have your own path. Walk it, and let other people walk theirs. Your writing will be so much better if you do.
6. Indecision on what direction to take
Questioning your decisions isn’t a bad thing. It’s a trait that we humans developed to keep ourselves safe and alive. If we never second-guessed running down a ravine like a wildebeest, our species would’ve died out well before the holocene.
But now, we have more on our plate than “Should I chase that leopard into its den?” and “Are all red berries poisonous?”
Now we have decisions like, “Will wearing red make me seem powerful, romantic, daring, or sexually frustrated? Maybe I should just wear blue? Or will that make me seem boring and sad?”
And this feeds into the rest of our lives, too. We aren’t sure whether we should invest money in Amazon ads for our books, or if it’s a waste of time. We aren’t sure if we should look for another job, or ride this one out until we hit the NYT Bestsellers List. We aren’t sure if we should start Grey’s Anatomy, or if there are too many seasons to catch up on at this point.
When you constantly second-guess yourself, you are inviting chaos into your Spirit. Trust your instincts. You’ve honed them for a reason.
And yes, sometimes, your instincts will give you a gut feeling without knowing the full story, and sometimes, that will lead to failure.
But most of the time, it’ll be the right choice.
7. Thinking your writing isn’t worth it
Without something you’re passionate about, you can’t expect much from your life. Write something you love. Be confident in your decision to write it. And enjoy doing it.
Your confidence will thank you for it, and you’ll kick writing Impostor Syndrome to the curb!