What Impostor Syndrome Looks Like From The Inside

Impostor Syndrome, the belief that one is a fraud, sometimes hits a lot of writers.  Most of the writers I know, both professional and not, suffer from it from time to time.  I feel lately like I live there.  It makes writing very difficult–how can you focus on the work when you’re convinced you’re terrible at it?

I suffer from it both as a teacher and as a writer, but mostly as a writer.  And when I’m in the depths of Writer Impostor mode, these are the things that go through my mind  (In case it’s not obvious, I need to point out that every single one of these is BS and I know it):

  • I’m a hack.  My book sucks.
  • I’m not analytical enough.  All my friends are waxing eloquent about that book’s structure and plot and character, and I’m sitting here with my Literature degree thinking only “I liked it; it was a good story.”  How can I be a good writer if I don’t analyze everything I read like that?
  • Writing is hard.  It wouldn’t be this hard if I was any good.
  • Fuck (insert writer whose career I’m jealous of that day)
  • I’m good at grammar but I suck at everything else.
  • I am never going to be published.  What’s the point of bothering to put my soul into this if it isn’t going to go anywhere?
  • It would be easier to just stop and be a reader.
  • My ideas are all trite and unoriginal.
  • Taking a dump would be more productive than this writing session.
  • VP lied to me to get my money. The instructors all laughed about how bad I am.
  • All my VP classmates think I suck.  They just tell me it’s good because they like me.
  • They don’t even really like me.
  • I’m wasting time I could be doing something more fun chasing a dream that will never come true.  I’m a fool.
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About Michael Johnston

Father of a fifth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Forty-six years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA
This entry was posted in Viable Paradise, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What Impostor Syndrome Looks Like From The Inside

  1. Jerry says:

    Yes, a million times over. Add to this pile the doubt that comes from having been dead wrong about my core beliefs for the first 37 years of my life, and I can barely write a sentence without spending 30 minutes wondering whether I did it wrong. It’s a nuisance.

  2. Laura says:

    I saw your post and I just want to hug you, but I don’t want to be that creepy stranger who is waiting in the bushes to hug you. Don’t ask why I’m in the bushes, it’s a long stalky story.

    Your points were all too familiar. I’m also a VP grad and think we all go through periods having the Impostor Syndrome. It sucks. Just know that you’re not alone and I hope you escape its evil clutches soon.

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