by Kassandra Lamb
Today I’m guest posting over on Jami Gold’s site on the subject of Impostor Syndrome in writers. But there are nuggets of truth in the post for everyone on the topic of believing in the quality of one’s work, filtering feedback, and letting the good stuff in to bolster our self-esteem.
“Impostor Syndrome”—it’s the bane of a writer’s existence. Am I really a writer? Am I really any good at this writing thing?
Even after we’ve produced several books and they’re selling, we may still encounter those moments of fear—Am I a fraud? Have I just fooled everyone?
Why is writing (or any creative endeavor) so prone to impostor syndrome?
1. “Good” is subjective. No matter how great our talent, some people will love our work, and some will hate it. (Just look at the bad reviews on many of the classics.)
2. We are too close to our work to judge it accurately.
3. We feel things more intensely than others might. That’s what fuels our creativity, and also our self-doubt.
4. Our stories, poems, etc. are our children. Criticism of them is a knife in the heart.
5. Any insecurities we have about our worth as a person will feed into insecurities about our work. Criticism will seem harsher than it was intended to be; praise will be seen as people just being kind.
What to Do About It:
First, are you a writer?
If you write, you are a writer! Claim that title. You have a right to it. (Or to sculptor, painter, or even teacher, architect…whatever the case may be.)
Whether or not you are a good writer is something else. Being good at something almost always involves three things: natural talent, training, and practice.
Talent is the subjective, innate component. (I’ll come back to that.) But the training and the practice you can make happen. Take craft classes. Find a good critique group, editor, beta readers, etc. who can help you hone your skills.
And then write. A lot.
How do you know if you’ve got the talent?
When you are first starting out, have lots of people read your writing and give you feedback.
Then pay close attention to that feedback. This does NOT mean that you BELIEVE all the feedback you get, but pay close attention to it.
First, who is giving it? Do they have their own agenda (such as making themselves seem important), or are they sincerely trying to help?
Do they know what they are talking about? Do they normally read your genre? Are they writers themselves or editors? (They don’t have to be, and just because they are doesn’t mean everything they say is correct.)
I intentionally have at least one beta reader who is not primarily a mystery reader (currently my daughter-in-law, romance writer G.G. Andrew). This gives me…READ MORE