Who Am I To…? What To Do When Imposter Syndrome Sets In

“I assure you, all of my novels were first-rate before they were written.”
– Virginia Woolf

I’m sure most – if not all – of us can relate to this statement. The idea comes, the characters take shape, we start hearing dialogue, and the setting comes into view. We sit down, we write, and when we read our words a few days later, it feels flat. Or like it’s missing something but we don’t know what, exactly.

We start to have doubts. About our initial idea. About our writing. About ourselves. We can start to question whether or not we should proceed – at the very least, with this new idea – and at the very worst – with writing at all. Ever. We lapse into self-flagellation, even if only metaphorically.

It’s easy for imposter syndrome to set in. And it’s easy to compare our “less-than” prose to all those polished, finished, printed books on the bookstore shelf. We believe we don’t – maybe even, can’t – measure up.

You’ve become enmeshed with your work, much like a person who’s become enmeshed in a relationship. You can’t find the edges of yourself. (Where do you end and the writing (or the other person) begin?) It feels icky. It feels claustrophobic. It’s unhealthy.

When this happens, take a step back. Separate yourself from your writing – the work. You and it are two separate entities. And as Chuck Wendig says, “Your First Draft Does Not Require Your Faith In It.”

What matters most is that you just keep moving forward. Keep massaging the idea and the story and the character, and like a bound-up muscle, it will start to relax. In subsequent drafts (and it could mean – almost always means – A LOT of drafts), you may just start to see a glimmer of the brilliance that first came to you.

And always remember Virginia’s quote: For most of us – even the greats – the original idea may always feel like a dream.

And that’s okay…

 

Reason you aren’t writing #1

WTB_EBook_Welcome

I’m sure your days are full (otherwise, that book or writing project would be finished by now, yes?).

Let’s think of ways to build writing time into your busy life.

But first, I have two requests.

1) Please avoid putting pressure on yourself to write every day. If it isn’t possible, it simply isn’t possible. And getting two pages each week is better than no pages, right?Take some time to think about how you spend your days. When do you wake up? When do you go to bed? What do you do in between those times? If you have a job and/or a family, chances are, there are plenty of other people wanting and needing your time.

2) Please don’t put yourself last on the list! As you read in the Intro to Writing Through the Body™ eBook (and if you haven’t, sign up for my email list and it’s my gift to you), Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who coined the term and concept of flow, says—in a nutshell—when we achieve flow, we experience happiness. So—in the interest of your happiness—please stop viewing writing as a luxury or a frivolous desire that you’ll fit in after all the “important” items on your To Do List have been taken care of.

I know from experience that that day will never come if YOU
don’t make it a priority.

You must make a point of privileging your writing
and sharing your brilliant ideas with the world.

Of course, your job or your clients need your attention, as do your important relationships, and if you have kids of a certain age, they still need your help, BUT there are ways to make time to honor the gems in your fabulous, creative brain, extract them, and transform them into stories and characters that will touch people, affect people, and create positive change in the world.

Which brings me to Time Banking.

Time Banking is like saving money, only with time.

First, track how you spend your time for at least TWO DAYS (a week is even better). Be as exact as possible. If your life doesn’t allow a minute-to-minute accounting of your days, get as close to 15-minute segments as possible. Pay attention to the amount of time you spend cooking, doing dishes, taking care of other people, phone conversations, watching TV/Netflix/YouTube, social media, at the job, driving, etc.

Then, begin to sort out which items are absolutely essential, and which are not.

For instance, a few suggestions:

1) If you’re spending a fair amount of time cooking every day, how can you cut down on that time? Can you do bulk cooking on the weekends and store it for use all week? Can someone else at home take care of clean-up throughout the week?

2) If you find yourself mindlessly sucked into Facebook, Instagram, or some other social media platform on a regular basis, give yourself an allowance. As with changing any habit, if we attempt to go cold turkey, it usually backfires. So… allow yourself your indulgences, but plan for them: 3 times per day, 5-10 mins. each time. That’s a total of 15-30 mins. FOMO be damned! Your life will be no less rich if you miss a few random posts. Promise. (In fact, it might be richer if you do.)

3) If you watch a lot of TV, Netflix, YouTube, or some other such outlet (I know I do), shorten the amount of time each day, or allow yourself a one- or two-hour viewing session 3-4 times per week. Or avoid watching all week and indulge in a little binge watching over the weekend. Set a pre-determined amount of time and stick to it! Set a timer if necessary. It will always be there…

4) Do you have a friend or family member who likes to call you and strike up lengthy phone conversations just to shoot the breeze, gossip, or complain? If so, ask yourself if this is truly a good use of your time. Think of all the writing you could be doing, all the words and ideas you could be unloading in the time this uses. If this is one of your time stealers, do what you can to enlist your friend’s/family member’s support in helping you realize your writing dreams. (If they care about you, they won’t want to continue to abuse your time this way.)

Then, after you’ve accounted for all your time and deconstructed your days, reconstruct it.

Make a plan to wake up at least 30 mins. earlier. It’s AMAZING what a quiet house can do for still-fuzzy morning brain. (For some people, this is the BEST time to write.) Or if you’re a night person, stay up at least 30 mins. later, after everyone has gone to bed. If you can’t do this every day, schedule it for 2-3 days/week. As I’ve said before, something is better than nothing. And when your brain gets accustomed to its new schedule…

Magic will unfold.

Then… head over to the closed Writing Through the Body™ Writers Group and let us know what changes you made. Let us know how it’s going after a week, two weeks, or more…

Note: This is not a way to check up on you… it’s a way to celebrate your successes!

I’m pulling for you. I want you to write! And any change or progress you make—no matter how small it might seem to you—will be a gold star in my book!

Sending you mad writing mojo…