“I can’t really call myself a writer, I haven’t yet been published.”
“I know I’ve written seventeen books, I just hope nobody ever finds out I never finished college.”
“My book has been on the bestseller list for three months running but I have no idea what I did to get there or how to replicate it. I’m such a fraud.”
“Sure I’ve been studying the writing craft for years and working on this manuscript for almost as long but what in the world makes me think I can submit a proposal. That’s for real writers.”
Do any of those sound familiar to you? I’m always surprised at the self doubt excellent writers suffer. I recently stumbled over the term Imposter Syndrome. There are a number of interesting articles about it, like this one from TheMuse.com or Ted Talks, like this one. But here’s the simple definition:
im·pos·tor syn·dromenoun: imposter syndromethe persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.
Back in the days of my first career as a dollmaker, I employed the same two sister seamstresses for all my pattern drafting and sewing. For more than thirty years they created tens of thousands of complicated historical costumes in miniature using the finest materials— swiss batiste, woolens, homespun, silk, leathers— using intricate techniques. Betty and Mary never took a sewing class. They were self-taught and often invented new techniques that were far better than the standard techniques. I could do nothing but laugh every time one of them said, “I hope nobody ever finds out we don’t know how to sew.”
Do you think someone like author Harper Lee could have suffered from imposter syndrome? She wrote her beloved novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, and never penned another book. (Ignoring the posthumous debacle of a found manuscript.) What about those recording artists known as one-hit wonders?
How about you? Do you ever suffer from imposter syndrome? I certainly have over the years, as an artist, then as a writer and yes, even as an agent. But I thought it would be interesting to hear from you. Have you ever said to yourself, “I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m just faking it until I make it?”