Knowing the eyes of other humans will be on my work gives me the howling fantods, but I still crave the feedback and connection of being part of a writing community. Seriously, writers toiling in isolation: don’t do it! (Or do. I mean, you do you. I’m just saying it’s a lonely endeavor. Besides, one generally improves with feedback.)
Anyway, why has widening my circle by sharing on a site such as Wattpad kept me up at night?
The answer: impostor syndrome. Fear of being “found out.” For a writer, it may manifest as crippling anxiety that they don’t really know how to write and that, any day now, they will be exposed. It’s a ceaseless waiting for the other shoe to drop, for someone to point and laugh . . . and laugh some more.
I’m not alone in this. My cursory Google search of “impostor syndrome writers” yielded nearly 200,000 results and some very good articles on the subject. (I recommend a good googling, because there’s great advice out there.)
So what do you do when you find that, for you, there’s an inverse association between success and self-esteem?
FIND A SUPPORT NETWORK
I asked this of my friend, James, who is a published author, and his response was heartening. Pretty much every writer feels this way, he said. The solution? Surround yourself with people who are uplifting.
Being believed in goes a long way, let me tell you.
Lean on your family and friends, yes, but if you can, find other writers. If you can’t find them close to home, lean on an online forum. Join a writing site or app; Wattpad is just one. (I haven’t used the others, but they’re out there.) Check out your local library for a writing group, or, failing that, a book club.
Here’s a tip: be respectful and kind to your fellow writers in these places. Kindness goes a long way to building your support network!
FOCUS ON YOUR SELF-ESTEEM
If you have impostor syndrome, you may have some self-esteem issues to unpack. Seriously, if your fear of failure/success/being found out is arresting your ability to write, maybe it’s time to talk to someone about it. I do. We all received messages about our abilities when we were children, and we may have internalized some unhelpful things. Maybe it’s time to embrace the extraordinary, creative creatures we truly are and to let go of the BS.
The bottom line when dealing with impostor syndrome is to be proactive in finding ways to cope. Don’t languish at your desk, writing and deleting, writing and deleting, ad infinitum. Alone. Seek help. Your writing will thank you for it.