Navigating Writer Imposter Syndrome with Confidence and Creativity

A new approach to a self-defeating feeling

Photo by Erika Fletcher on Unsplash

We hear the term imposter syndrome a lot these days. It appears that when someone tries something new, they must be completely confident; otherwise, they have “imposter syndrome.” For a while, I wondered if it was a real thing. Isn’t it natural to feel like you don’t know what you are doing when you begin something new? Does it have to be a syndrome?

A syndrome consists of symptoms that signal a disorder and possibly a disease. It suggests that there is something wrong with us.

Looking at this from a writer’s perspective, I can assure you there is nothing wrong with not feeling like a writer when you begin. It’s to be expected and logical. Even experienced writers feel they “just got lucky” and don’t deserve to be published. Writing is a creative endeavor that will always contain an element of not feeling worthy or good enough. So, we don’t have a syndrome; we are artists.

I wonder if we can come up with a new term that is more positive and encouraging? Let’s look at the symptoms of “imposter syndrome.”

· Anxiety

· Doubt

· (a feeling of) Worthlessness

· Lack of Confidence

· Feeling like a liar or fraud

There might be more, but this is bad enough. No one wants to feel these emotions and have these thoughts running through their heads, so what if we renamed them? I want to share what I think is really going on with these symptoms, and how we can begin to think of them differently.

· Nervous Excitement: Instead of anxiety, what we are really feeling is excitement. We are trying something new, and we want to do it, so there is a degree of anticipation that can feel like anxiety. When you moved from elementary school to middle school, you felt it. If you’ve ever changed jobs or homes or brought home a new pet, you’ve felt the nervous excitement that change always evokes. You are excited, but you also don’t know what to expect, so you have another emotion tied closely to excitement — doubt. Let’s talk about that one below.