Impostor Syndrome: What it is, and How Writers can deal with it.

Impostor syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a psychological disorder in which an individual constantly doubts their skill(s), talent and ability. An individual suffering from impostor syndrome always fears being exposed as a fraud because they believe they are not as good as people think they are.

Despite evidence that they are deserving of their accolades and achievements, those suffering from impostor syndrome remain certain that they are ‘frauds’ and are not worthy of all they have achieved. 

According to Wikipedia, The first scale designated to measure characteristics of impostor phenomenon was designed by Clance in 1985, called the Clance impostor phenomenon scale (CIP). The scale can be used to determine if characteristics of fear are present, and to what extent. The aspects of fear include: fear of evaluation, fear of not continuing success and fear of not being as capable as others.

Writers are not immune to impostor syndrome; in fact, many writers suffer from it. If you constantly feel that your works are not good as others say they are, or you often wonder if the praises your friends give your works are authentic, chances are that you suffer from impostor syndrome. 

Impostor syndrome could strip you off the joy of having your works celebrated. It could make you feel miserable for the accolades you receive. It could also kill the zeal to continue to write; because in your opinion, nothing you write is good enough.

How to deal with Impostor Syndrome as a Writer:

1. Monitor Your Inner-dialogue: You have to become cognizant of your thoughts. Don’t just let thoughts move around your head. Ask yourself, “what am I thinking about?” Doing this would give you a better knowledge of the thoughts that cross your mind. You’d figure out if your thoughts are positive or negative(which is most likely if you suffer from impostor syndrome). After identifying your thoughts, replace every negative word and sentence with a positive one. For example, instead of saying, “I wouldn’t get selected for the next round,” say instead, “I’ll make it to the next round.”

2. Separate Feelings from facts: You must learn to figure out what your thoughts really are. Are they facts, or just your assumptions? You might feel that you do not deserve to be named the best writer in a contest. And this might fill you with guilt because you have the belief that there are others more deserving of the accolade than you. But take a moment to ask yourself if the judges and audience are all wrong. Truth is, they can’t all be wrong.

3. Talk to others about how you feel: Find online or offline groups whose members are individuals dealing with impostor syndrome. This would help you realize that you are not alone, and that many others suffer from impostor syndrome. Another tip is to seek support from family and friends.

4. Make sure to Eliminate Self-doubt before an Event: Be sure of one thing, you don’t want to take out the fun of an event by letting yourself be consumed by self doubt. Positive affirmations are a way to eliminate self doubt. Say to yourself words like, “I can do it,” “I am good enough,” “I believe in myself.” Make sure to speak these words into existence. Say them with conviction, and watch your confidence increase.

5. Love Your Works: Appreciating the work you created would help you manage impostor syndrome. You can appreciate your work by reading your work just to enjoy reading. I’d suggest that before you label a piece as ‘not good enough,’ leave it for a while, and read it after a few months. You’d be shocked to find that the piece is actually beautiful.

6. Allow yourself believe to you are a good writer: Give yourself permission to accept the accolades. You’ve worked hard. Let yourself enjoy the praise you receive. You deserve it, dear writer. And remember, we’re always rooting for you! So go out there, and take your place as the great writer that you are.

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