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Writing struggles: impostor syndrome

May 28, 2017

 

Do you remember when you moved into your first apartment? You probably felt like a pretend adult. You were thinking, this isn't real, this can't be my life. Grownups know what they're doing. Grownups don't eat cereal for dinner, or hide the dirty clothes under the covers when guests come by.

 

It's the same feeling as when you're 10, and being 16 seems so grownup. By the time you get there, you realize it's not really that special. (Actually, this may be a bad example. Being 16 in states where you can drive and your parents give you spending money is pretty much the best thing ever).

 

It's not exactly impostor syndrome, though I titled this post that way because it brings to mind a similar feeling. It's not about feeling like a fraud in your accomplishments, despite all the evidence to the contrary. It's more about mental perception, and how you thought it would "feel" to be or do something. When you get there, you find out you still feel like you, but with an extra word attached. I struggled with associating the words "fiancé" and then "wife" and now "mother" to myself. (Maybe this actually is impostor syndrome, and I need to read more about it than just a wikipedia article...)

 

Anyway, whatever it's called, this is what I feel like right now. Like a pretend writer. Like I don't deserve to spend time on writing, because it's not really what I do. I have a job. A job that I'm good at and that I love. Why would I spend so much time and money on trying to have another job? What's the matter with me? Why do I think I deserve more than what I already have, when it's what so many others would be thrilled to have?

 

You can see I hesitate to use the word "author" even though really, since there is a book out there with my name on it for sale, that's what I am. Well, a book with my pen name on it. Actually, even using a pen name was a kind of shield against attaching "author" to my real identity. It seems like too serious of a word for me.

 

I know I am not the only one who feels this way. A lot of the resources I read/watch/listen to talk about how if you want to be successful (however you may define that), then you need to have an outlook/mindset that goes along with it.  

 

My struggles with distraction are related to this - if I don't ever write, then I'm not really an author. Problem solved! However, someone asked me recently if I'm a runner, like my husband. I haven't run in months, but I said yes anyway, because it's part of how I define myself. So the struggle is to work "author" into the list of words I have internalized as part of my identity.

 

One way I'm doing that is (trying) to say "I'm an author," rather than "I write."  I also bought a book to help improve my writing and plotting (which I love and will blog about soon). Finally, I'm trying to remind myself that when I take the time to be an author, and when I spend money on an activity I enjoy, it's not selfish or playing pretend. It's something I am committed to exploring right now, and I need to give it the attention it deserves. I didn't get to be a runner by only running for a few weeks. It took time and regular practice before it truly became a part of who I am.

 

 

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