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5 Things to Kill Imposter Syndrome

I have just returned from the Romance Writers of American National Retreat in Nashville, Tn. It is the first such event I have attended since the pandemic hit. I won’t say I wasn’t nervous, though I am fully vaccinated and try to be good about wearing a mask. I knew, however that I needed to go and be around like-minded people to fill my well and prove that I do belong with these amazingly talented and exceptionally motivate people.

Imposter syndrome is a thing, and it is no joke.

book with stones piled on it on the beach
writers need community

It can keep someone from pursuing their purpose and reaching their goals without even batting an eye lash. Some of the most experienced and successful CEO’s struggle with it on the daily. I believe that writers across all genres are more susceptible to Imposter syndrome than others because of the very nature of our craft which can be isolating, and very subjective. But imposter syndrome does not have to keep you on the side lines, or off the bookshelves if you can acknowledge it and be more present with your thoughts and actions to combat those things that trigger imposter syndrome in you. Here are 5 things you can do to help combat your inner mean girl.

1. Do not let your thoughts run unchecked. It takes practice and daily awareness, but try to pay attention to the thoughts you have when you begin to feel imposter syndrome sneak in. What activities are you doing? What is your own energy/sleep/health levels?

woman holding blocks to her face that read either fact or fake depending on where you turn the blocks
Base your thoughts on Facts.

Then ask yourself are there any solid facts behind what your inner mean girl is saying? Remind yourself that words like “always” and “never” are red flags that the statement is not based on actual events. Once you can realize that the statements are not true you have a weapon to combat them.

2. Make a list of ALL the reasons you deserve to be called an author, writer, artist, whatever your imposter syndrome is telling you, you do not deserve. Put down everything. Including things like my inner mean girl is not the boss and doesn’t make the

rules. Do you write? Then you are a writer? Here is a nugget of wisdom, good writers never think they are good enough and continue to hone their craft over the lifetime of their careers. It is when you stop thinking you need to improve that you may want to consider if you still belong. Put the list somewhere close to where you work, so you can refer to it every time you catch a negative thought intruding.

3. Understand that there is a difference between a critique and criticism, and you get to choose what you accept and reject. A critique of your work is an object consideration of the piece with solid suggestions of where the author may want to improve or further work on it to make it better. A writer seeks out these critiques on their work, because again, a good writer always wants to improve. However, a confident writer also knows when a critique is just criticism and should be released back into the wild without even a consideration.

My rule of thumb with my own work is if 3 people mention an issue or say something similar about a piece, then I will consider that an area of concern to work on. A 1 Star review that doesn’t have any constructive information is not something I waste my time on. I don’t know that person’s story and can’t possibly know what frame of mind they were

in reading my story. Perhaps something in my story triggered them, perhaps they are just a mean person, but it is none of my business thank you very much. (This takes time, and copious amounts of comfort food to start this, but you can train your brain to filter useful vs. non-useful information)

At the end of the day critiquing is about the piece of writing not the author, so like in any business you need to learn that your writing projects are not really part of your soul, and the critique is not personal.

4. Have a folder either on your desktop or near your work area that you put those 5-star reviews, positive comments, or anything else that makes you remember why you are doing what you are doing, and why you deserve to be where you are. I won’t lie, sometimes I must take a deep dive into my 5-star reviews, and then also I check my Goodreads average rating, which is better than my favorite author’s Goodreads average rating. If it helps to go and read all the Harry Potter 1-star reviews to show you, you are not alone do it.

5. This one circles back to the RWA retreat I attended this month. There is nothing better for a writer’s soul than to surround themselves with other writers. I know there is something romantic about the idea of Hemingway toiling alone in Key West with nothing but his cats and his black label bottle, but I don’t want that for you. The cats are fine, really, but community is more important. When you meet and interact in community with other authors you quickly see that even those writers at the top of their game can let imposter syndrome hover over them like a storm cloud. The difference between the author at the top of her game and an author who chooses not to write is that one is pushing past their fear and the other is allowing their fear to rule them. I have yet to go anywhere in my life that I was told I didn’t belong or that I wasn’t a (fill in the blank). The only one who sees you as an imposter is your inner mean girl and you, if you are allowing her to hijack your thoughts.

diverse women embracing
community will help ground you in the world you wish to be part of

Imposter syndrome is not something to play around with if you want to live your most fulfilling life and accomplish your goals. The longer you let that be part of your story, the more ingrained it will become and harder to get rid of. You do not want the story you tell yourself and share with the world to be one of such limiting beliefs, so once you notice it take charge as soon as possible. You can start with this affirmation if it helps:

"I am writing who is learning everyday and

becoming the author of my dreams"

How do you combat imposter syndrome if it strikes you? Let me know in the comments. Join my mailing list to get tips and doses of positive vibes, plus information on up coming courses, events, and places to meet me at events.

Cheers -Clair

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