Feeling inadequate? Like you’re a fake? A person only pretending to be a writer who’s about to be found out?
Take heart, bunky. Not only are you not alone in your misery, you don’t even have to suffer this way at all.
by Nathan Bransford
Writing a novel is a challenging process and positive reinforcement is gaspingly hard to come by. Accordingly, it is hard to avoid imposter syndrome: the feeling that you are a fraud and that your lack of skills will be “discovered” at any moment.
Nearly every writer I know is afflicted at some point by the sense that they are a complete and total imposter who does not deserve to be writing a sentence, let alone a whole novel.
- Before you get published you say: “Oh but I’m not a real writer.”
- Then get you get published and you say: “Oh but I’m not a good writer.”
- Then you get good reviews and you say: “Oh but I’m just a fluke writer, I’ll never be able to do this again.”
And so on and so forth, through countless sleepless nights.
Writers and imposter syndrome
Writing a novel is, in many respects, a completely crazy enterprise.
You spend months and months of your time on a seemingly open-ended and immensely difficult project without any notion of whether it is any good, whether it will ever be finished or see the light of day, and whether you will ever see a dime for your troubles.
And that’s before you show it to the world, where it will invariably be met with various forms of rejection and heartache you theretofore did not know existed.
As I said in How to Write a Novel: This is the life you’ve chosen.
It’s hard not to struggle with the “am I crazies,” that feeling that you are on some impossible path and wondering why in the world you’re doing what you’re doing.
And here’s the kicker: IT DOESN’T GET BETTER THROUGH TIME.
An imposter’s history
I spent a ton of time doubting that I was really a writer, let alone a good one. I didn’t even tell anyone I was writing a book until I landed an agent for the second novel I wrote.
After all of that, when I finally found a publisher for the novel that became the first book in the Jacob Wonderbar series, I was positively euphoric.
No one, I thought, would ever be able to take that away from me. I was going to be a published author. I did something really hard, and I pulled it off. I would no longer doubt whether I was meant to be writing a book.
That was a fun couple of weeks. Then it was back to imposter city.
First I worried about whether I’d be able to write another book that was any good. Then I wondered whether I’d be able to keep going and write anything more….