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Imposter Syndrome in writers and beyond

Does every writer (and aspiring writer) suffer from Imposter Syndrome?

I feel that I have achieved something by getting the words out of my head, onto a page and finally into print, but I still struggle to know if they are any good.

Image: theinner hour.com


I have been lucky in finding some people brave enough to tell me when the writing needs work, and sometimes plenty of work is required. These people are treasured for their frank and fearless advice. It would seem that there are far too many polite people out there.

Maybe it’s because writing a book is such a bucket list item. You should be congratulated for achieving a goal that is loftily out of reach for many. But a poorly achieved goal is not what you set out to accomplish. No-one wants to write something that is half-baked or less than it could have been.

Is it only those with out-of-control egos that don’t suffer imposter syndrome? You know the type, those that never let reality get in the way of their over-inflated self-belief. The blustering bullshit artists that take the piss as far as they think they can get away with. Maybe even these hyper-inflated types suffer, they just don’t let on. They focus on the prize, not on the path required to get there.

I recently had a discussion with two snake oil salesmen (my term not theirs), who were flogging a product that they were convinced defied the basic laws of physics. I wonder if they believed what they were saying, when mountains of robust scientific evidence contradicted their sales pitch? Maybe their goal of flogging a product that had cost them a few dollars to make and then enable them to sell it for thousands was enough for them to suspend their principles.

A recent LinkedIn post by Ting Wei Toh, suggested that many people suffer from imposter syndrome. A quick search came up with at least a dozen LinkedIn groups that focused exclusively on Imposter Syndrome. This is probably enough to suggest that Imposter Syndrome is more common than we think.

If the evidence experienced with the snake oil floggers is anything to go by, those that don’t suffer Imposter Syndrome are those that need to. Mr Toh suggests that a good support system is essential in overcoming imposter syndrome. I think this, in itself, could be part of the problem. If you are genuinely not as good as you feel you should be, maybe you’re not. The only antidote is to find those valuable people who will tell you like it is. When you find them cherish them and make sure they don’t change-even if you need to.


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