Sheryl R. Hayes

Figuring out writing one word at a time.

Imposter Syndrome

Originally posted at The Snarkology for Melissa Snark’s Puzzling Through Writing

A few months ago, I posted about my first rejection. I made the comment that now I could call myself a real writer.  I had two friends reply to that post, pointing out that I was already a writer long before I was rejected.  I had fallen prey to something everyone struggles with at one time or another.

Imposter Syndrome is the belief that your accomplishments are not valid, that you are a fraud that will be discovered at any moment.  Although many people have studied this syndrome, it is not an official diagnosis found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  Some reports state that up to 70% of people feel that they are imposters at some point of their life. Physicist Albert Einstein wrote in a letter to Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, “The exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.”

In my case, I do not see myself as a writer, despite evidence to the contrary. I have written two novels and two short stories at this point.  I regularly post new content to my blog.  Before I turned my attention to purely original works, I was active in several fanfic communities for over twenty years, creating everything from one hundred word drabbles to a series of novella length stories. Even as a small child, I told stories to my stuffed animals. I may not be a published author, but I am clearly a writer.  But more often than not I do not see myself as one.

What is the solution?  I’ve been told that I should fake it until I make it.  All authors go through this at some point or another, and sometimes repeatedly.  But if I keep calling myself a writer, if I keep acting like a writer, eventually I will believe I am a writer.

So here it goes.  My name is Sheryl R. Hayes and I am a writer.

1 Comment

  1. As a reader, trust me, you are a writer. Put it at the top of every page you start (you can delete it later when the page is full) I AM a writer. There must be a manual that lists the skills required to be a writer, what qualifies one as a writer, none of which has anything to do with publishing. How long did Margaret Mitchell leave Gone With the Wind in a drawer because she didn’t think she was a writer and it was the only book she had published. It might never have been published and yet based on that book you would say she qualifies as a writer.

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