The Shadow of Imposter Syndrome

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(Sorry.  The November 28th post went live by accident right after this one.  So, most people commented on the Hat Shop instead of the real November 2nd post.  Didn’t realize it until someone actually commented on this one, so I’m reposting it in the hope of it getting the attention it deserves.  Sorry.)

The first time I heard the phrase ‘Imposter Syndrome’, I shrugged it off.  Never really thought it would be a factor in my author life.  Yeah, I was fueled by arrogance on that one because I’ve come to realize it’s fairly easy to fall into.  So, what is it?

Simply put, Imposter Syndrome is when you doubt your abilities and think you’re nothing more than a fraud.  It doesn’t matter how much you’ve researched, trained, or practiced.  You just feel fake and worthless.  Many high achievers get this because they question if they earned their victories or it was handed to them.  This can stem from being a natural or practicing so much that you ace the challenge on the first try.  Things can be seen as too easy and you start to doubt everything.  It can roll into a self-destructive spiral where a person sets out to prove they’re worthless.

Much of this can be caused by internal sources such as doubt, low self-esteem, or routinely comparing yourself to others who may be further along.  There can be outside causes as well such as devil’s advocates and haters.  A personal favorite of mine are the people who think giving only negative criticism is helpful, so they tear your work apart with the belief that you’ll be happy and make all the changes.  All of this can result in a person who loses faith in themselves since negativity tends to be louder and more forceful than positivity, especially with the Internet.

Now, these won’t trigger Imposter Syndrome all the time or right away.  Many times it will be a build up to the ‘event’.  Usually, the person finally achieves a success or an award after being filled with doubts and getting criticized.  Many believe that this will wash away their fears and help them realize they are good at what they do.  In reality, a person may think there is a mistake and they weren’t supposed to win.  After being told for so long that they aren’t as good as they think or they still need work, reaching the finish line can be fairly jarring.  You have full-blown Imposter Syndrome instead of the victory driving them to keep going.

My recent achievement of Imposter Syndrome started at in May/June.  After 10 months of not writing anything, I finally got back to my books.  It took a few sections to get all of the rust off, but it still didn’t feel right.  Many times, I’d feel like a fraud after a full day of writing by focusing on a part that I had trouble getting through.  Sometimes, it was a part I hadn’t gotten to yet and I couldn’t shake the idea that I had been away from my imagination for so long that I had no business being near Windemere.  Long covid exhaustion and brain fog added to this situation since I couldn’t tell if that was making me an even bigger hack.

One also has to add in the fact that my books don’t sell and my blog doesn’t really get a lot of attention.  For a long time, I’ve been thinking that I screwed up my one shot at making this a career and should give up.  Having people around me practically saying so doesn’t help here.  It’s probably more doubt than I’ve ever had to handle, so I start believing it on some level.  So, when I’m stressed or tired, I think of myself as a hack and walk away from my laptop even in mid-sentence.  Takes more time than I’d like to admit to get back to it too.

I’m going to talk about Imposter Syndrome on Friday too.  It’ll be a Questions 3 since I wanted to give this topic more time.  I believe many people suffer from it even if they don’t realize it.  What does everyone else think?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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12 Responses to The Shadow of Imposter Syndrome

  1. Imposter syndrome can render a person to a state of helplessness. The big fight is for a person to concentrate more on those things that give them pleasure . The hope is unpleasant things take on less importance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. L. Marie says:

    I didn’t see this post before. Sorry. I commented on the hat one, which was great.
    Weirdly enough I heard someone talk about this the other day. I have felt like an imposter every time I write anything. Getting any words written is a fight. What doesn’t help is when people measure “success” by famous authors whose books they see at the airport and feel free to mention said authors.


    • Yeah. It showed up and then the hat store did a few seconds later. People probably didn’t notice the first since I don’t typically do more than one a day.

      I didn’t have much imposter syndrome until recently. Think it’s the treading water and barely writing situation. I have run into many who compare a new author to an established name too. It’s always disheartening.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think every creative goes through this and not just authors. Part of it stems from us having to organize everything. Who remembers the Olympians that won bronze medals? My sales are way down and my blog doesn’t get as much action as it used to. I admit to toning the blog down because I don’t have as much time as I used to. Writing is also my escape and it makes me happy. That’s reason enough to keep going. If someone else enjoys my efforts that helps a bunch. We tend to beat ourselves up more than the outside world ever will.


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