What to do about imposter syndrome

March 2022

Imposter syndrome feels like an old friend (using the loosest possible definition of ‘friend’ here). We know each other so well. It doesn’t even knock. It just rocks up, pushes the door open, dumps all its stuff and gets comfy. Do you find that? 

It’s something so many writers struggle with at every single stage of the journey. I find that last bit reassuring (YAY! It’s not just me!) but also terrifying (AAAARGH this will never go away!). So I’ve decided to take action. Here’s what I’m going to do when imposter syndrome strikes and if any of this resonates with you, maybe you’ll join me: 

Accept that it’s there. Observe it.

I can’t unthink those impostery thoughts. But I can watch them with the mindset of ‘AHA, YOU AGAIN…I know what this is. And it WILL pass…’. It makes a difference. It’s that ‘you have no power over me’ moment from Labyrinth.  

Remember that you’re not alone.

Connecting with other writers and building safe spaces where you can share struggles will give you an outlet for your worries and frustrations.

Make a scrapbook or folder of good things to hold onto and go back to.

Collect the tiniest things. This is hard evidence for when you need serious convincing that you are a good writer and you do belong here. 

Look back at your writing journey and remind yourself how far you’ve come already.

Look at how your writing has grown. How you have grown. You didn’t dream that stuff. It’s real. And no one can take it away from you. Not even you on a self-doubty day. 

Feel free to switch off from social media if all the whooping and winning is sending you spiralling down a comparison trap.

Mute people if you have to. It’s possible to love a writer and be happy for them AND be wildly jealous and you’re not a bad person if that happens to you. 

Remember that there are many ways to be a writer.

No one has the exact life that you have and no one is the exact writer that you are. You’ll see people who seem to be racing ahead and doing ALL the things but check yourself. What works for you? What’s sustainable? What does success look like to you? Not compared to someone else. Go back to WHY you’re doing all this. Hold onto it. 

Wait. Or get busy. Or step away and do something entirely different. Fill your time with good things and good people. Imposter syndrome often drops in and slips out quietly. Just because it’s dropped in, you don’t have to sit with it. You don’t have to offer it biscuits. You do your thing. And tell it to shut the door on its way out. 

If you try any or all of these tips, I’d love to hear how you get on. And if you find a clever way to banish the rascal for good, TELL ME. In the meantime, good luck to us all! 

Want to learn more from Rashmi?

Rashmi is 2022 Picture Book Writer-in-Residence for the Hub, WriteMentor’s community learning platform that connects like-minded storytellers and provides all the tools they need for writing success.

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