My conversation with the BFF this weekend was very long and fruitful. We both have problems with feeling like we’re frauds. She is a high-achieving woman in Network Security and I’m a high-achieving woman in writing, so why do we feel like we are frauds?
Neither of us could supply a definite answer to this.
I work my ass off, putting in long hours and learning new things. Not just about writing, but about running a business (see yesterday’s post). As a result, I have a dedicated group of readers that is consistently getting larger and I have been invited to join a few organizations aimed directly at what I do. I also freak out every time I publish a book, because I have this feeling that it isn’t good enough. That anxiety tripled after putting out Fortified Dreams.
That fear that every other D&R novel is going to suck by comparison is real for me. Even my betas telling me they absolutely loved Triggered Reality and knowing they reacted exactly as I hoped they would, did not ease my apprehension. As the day of it’s release gets ever closer, I feel myself having more difficulty with my anxiety.
When I talk to other writers, I am somewhat embarrassed. I feel like I don’t belong there. I also feel like my success is a fluke and that I should still be scrambling to find a job – despite writing paying the bills.
It’s incredibly hard to explain. However, as my BFF and I discussed it at length, I’m finding it isn’t that unusual. There’s even a psychological term for it: Imposter Syndrome.
Let my start by saying it is important to understand that Imposter Syndrome is not a mental illness nor is it a personality trait. For some interesting information try these sites: Science, Wikipedia, and BBC News.
Essentially, it’s the feeling that whatever you have achieved, you have achieved via good luck, good timing, or an over appreciation of your mediocre skills. It’s a personal perception and devalues all your work.
Until I became a full time writer, I had never had this feeling of disconnect before. My job achievements had always been earned in my opinion. Now, I often feel, especially when talking to other writers, that I am some how a fraud and they will discover it. It’s a strange feeling, especially when your rational mind tells you this isn’t true, but your irrational/emotional mind is in a panic thinking that you might be discovered.
For me, no amount of praise or reassurances will convince me that I am not an imposter. It is not a reflection of my self-esteem either, which is very high. Also, there isn’t really a counterbalance for it, the more successful I become, the more I feel like a fraud.
While feeling like an imposter makes me anxious, it also forces me to continue. I can’t tap out now because then everyone will know that I was indeed a fraud. This is good for my readers, because it means I continue to pump out books and worry over them and try to make them the best that they can be. Even when they seem muddled, confusing, half-hearted, or disappointing, that’s normally my intention. I’ve mentioned before that I want people to read all of Mercurial Dreams and feel like he got off too easy and that they didn’t get their questions answered. I want readers to feel like Brenna made a terrible decision at the end of Dark Legacies. I haven’t a clue what I want readers to think about The Dysfunctional Chronicles except maybe my life isn’t that bad, but it’s my strange series done purely for the laughs, so…
Anyway, be aware that I’m not looking for praise when I ask if you liked my newest book or say things like “I hope it’s up to snuff.” It isn’t praise or gratification that makes me asks, it’s my own internal feelings of being a fraud that causes that to jump out of my mouth.