Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Happy Anniversary, IWSG!


It's the first Wednesday of September, which means it's time for another IWSG post.  First of all, many congratulations to Alex J. Cavanaugh, creator of this amazing blog hop.  IWSG has been going strong for two years, and hopefully has many more years to go!  If you haven't joined this community, stop by Alex's blog to sign up and post with us!

Image credit
My insecurity for this month (yes, I'm only picking one, thank you very much) is related to impostor syndrome.  You've probably heard of this--it's the feeling that you are incompetent, and your successes are due to the fact that you've fooled everyone into thinking you know what you're talking about.

For those of you who don't know, I started my professional life as a scientist, which means I spent a little over five years in graduate school. Looking back on the experience, I think grad school is designed to foster impostor syndrome--imagine year after year of failure punctuated by the occasional success, so that you begin to think those rare successes are due more to luck than any skill on your part.  Anyway, I digress.

My well-developed sense of impostor syndrome often rears its ugly head in other areas of my life as well. And why not?  If you really put your back into it, you too can experience feelings of doubt and insecurity in any aspect of your life!

Lately, I've been worrying about my writing, and feeling like maybe my successes to date are due to a combination of luck and fooling people. Making them think I can actually write, when really, I'm nothing more than a hack with a computer.  What if no one buys my book?  What if I'm the biggest flop in the history of publishing, and I never get to write in this town again, and...  Or, perhaps worse, what if people buy my book and they hate it?  What if I disappoint all the people who have invested in my writing career?  They'll figure out that they caught me on a rare good day, and that really, most of my work is bad and they wasted their time on me.

One of the problems with impostor syndrome is that it's terribly insulting to those around you.  You really think you're good enough to have fooled everyone?  Please.  That implies a near mythical level of skill, something you don't have in the first place, right?  So how could you possibly sneak past all the 'gatekeepers' of your field?  My rational brain knows and accepts this, but still...  Fear is a powerful thing, and it doesn't play by rational rules.

So I guess I'm going to do the only thing I can: try my best to ignore the voices of doubt and worry, and keep plugging away, day after day (like the failed poet I am <g>).

How do you deal with doubt?  Are you a fellow sufferer of impostor syndrome, too?

28 comments:

  1. OMG... how did you know about me fooling everyone? I'm so on this feeling right now lol

    You are wonderful and not fooling anyone, though, because you don't have to! As a fellow sufferer of impostor, I'm not quite sure how to deal. So I'll come back here to check the other comments o_0

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hang in there, S.K.! I think we're in the same boat, so let's stick together! :)

      Delete
  2. "If you really put your back into it, you too can experience feelings of doubt and insecurity in any aspect of your life!" <---Love this.

    I am definitely a sufferer of impostor syndrome. I am constantly worried about disappointing those who have invested time and interest in what I've written. I really don't want to let them down.

    So I do the ignoring that nagging doubt thing as best I can, and keep writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that's all we can do--keep going, ignoring the doubt as best we can.

      Delete
  3. Oh. My. Gosh. OMIGOSH! Impostor syndrome (I didn't know it had a name) seems to be the theme.

    Do we *all* feel like impostors? Or do we think others *think* we're impostors? I don't feel so alone now.

    Maybe it's that we are aiming for a target and coming closer and closer, but haven't hit it? But we're still aiming...

    Diana at About Myself By Myself

    Diana at About Myself By Myself

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As long as we keep aiming, I think we'll be okay!

      Delete
  4. I think every writer feels that way. Try embracing that feeling for motivation. The instant you stop thinking you're an impostor, you'll probably stop putting out your best work.

    Glad you're part of the ISWG.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point! Fear is a powerful motivator (maybe not the best one in the long run, but still...) and I never want to take writing for granted.

      Delete
  5. LARA! Have you READ Lean In yet?! You must have, right?! Sheryl Sandberg, the freaking COO of Facebook, writes an ENTIRE CHAPTER on Impostor Syndrome. Even uses those exact words to describe it.

    WHY WHY WHY did you and I not have this conversation while we were both in grad school?! I think we would have BOTH felt a lot better knowing that we felt exactly. the. same. way. Dang, missed opportunity.

    You ARE a brilliant writer and the fact that you, with your PhD in emerging infectious disease, are out there writing ROMANCE novels, means that you must have a crazy amount of passion about it-- and passion means you are going to be good. No doubt!

    I can't wait to read your first book! Although, I'm torn... because after reading your blog post about talking to the audio book person, I kind of want to hear what she thinks you sound like, so maybe I'll listen instead ;)

    You're amazing!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, Rachel! I wish we had talked more in grad school--I think we weren't the only ones who felt this way.

      I haven't read Lean In yet, but I will see if I can find it at the library. Sounds like a good book!

      Thanks for stopping by! (((hugs)))

      Delete
  6. Yes, a syndrome, that's what it is. See, I knew all along there was a name for it! So true, the doubts that invade - but you my dear are no imposter! You are the real deal! An amazing writer with talent, talent, talent!

    But me, I know all the angles! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Yolanda! Sometimes, I think having a name for something makes it easier to deal with, you know?

      Delete
  7. I totally can relate to what you're saying...unfortunately! I started off life as a mathematician - we have that in common, too. Here's what I think: as long as you've got them fooled, might as well take advantage and keep writing that amazing stuff!
    Seriously, that's what insecure writers are all about, "Am I really good?" that's the bottom line no matter what the insecurity, I think.
    Just keep swimming, just keep swimming... ;-)
    Tina @ Life is Good

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome, fellow STEM'er! :)

      I like your attitude--keep doing what you're doing until you get called on it. Love that Nemo quote, by the way--it's one of my favorites! :)

      Delete
  8. Good think I didn't go to grad school as planned cause I already have a pretty big helping of imposter syndrome.

    Love your post though. Very encouraging! Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You've made very good points. I think many writers feel the way you do, even bestselling authors wonder when people will realize they're fakers (so I've heard). I've had a really good time visiting your blog for the past year. Thanks for being one of the IWSG-ers! :-D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lexa! :)

      I think you're right--it's easy to forget that the 'pros' are human just like we are, prone to the same fears and doubts that plague us. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  10. Great post.

    I'm not to the stage in my writing career to deal with this yet, but I can relate when it comes to my online author persona. I'm not much different from the real me--I'm pretty much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get person all around--but interacting online helps me seem more socially adept because I can think about what I'm going to say and edit it before I click 'send.'

    I worry that if I were to have a phone conversation or face-to-face meeting with my writer friends, they wouldn't like me as much.

    Wow, I'm really laying myself bare with this admission.
    *squinches eyes and clicks 'publish'*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Believe me, you're not the only one who feels more comfortable expressing herself through writing rather than face to face :)

      Delete
  11. I totally relate to the poser/hack worries. Heck, I think we all do. Thankfully we have each other, right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the idea, Julie! Thanks for stopping by! :)

      Delete
  12. I'm like you- I work really hard to be insecure in just about every area of my life and my good days (read: bad days) I suceed and doubt EVERYTHING.

    Rational thought, as you pointed out, is powerless to stop irrational fear so I do what you do: just keep plugging away knowing that that's the goal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are so many of us out there--why do we always forget that other people are just as insecure, but perhaps better at hiding it? :)

      Delete
  13. Love that raccoon cat!
    And I hadn't thought of it that way before - it's true, who am I to think I could fool everyone all the time?!
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I work in a science lab and often wonder to myself when I'll get caught out. I can't even call myself a scientist because I don't believe it myself. Thankfully my boss can see more in me than I do so trusts me to do my job.

    I'm becoming more comfortable with my writing than I am with science.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you have a good boss--sometimes it takes a person we respect to help us see our own abilities!

      Delete

Got something to say? Share with me! :)