I’ve been seeing a lot lately about people facing that lovely little feeling of Imposter Syndrome. That thing where your brain tells you you’re a fake, your story isn’t good enough, you’re not good enough. That piece of you that tells you you’re nowhere near the level you should be, there’s better people out there that have better stories and more talent. That part of you that screams just that little bit louder than you when you need to support yourself instead of being down on your abilities.
Here’s the thing though: writing isn’t a talent. It’s not something you either have or you don’t, it’s not something one person is better at than the other. Writing is something you learn, and writing only gets better the more you do it. The greats you look up to never had a perfect story their first time around. No writer you ask will tell you they had literary gold the first time they set pen to paper, fingers to keyboard. And if they do, they’re talking out their ass.
We’re all in this boat together. We all have days, good and bad, and the bad can seem like Hell when you look at the story you’ve been so proud of and have been plugging away at with progress and a love unparalleled to anything you’ve experienced. It’s your baby. But you look at it and wonder why you’re even trying, it’s terrible — the prose is awful or the timeline is choppy or the story unoriginal.
But it’s not. We’re our own worst critics, we know the story and characters and we spend so much time with them we can’t look at our own work with a new eye, we can only see the things we did wrong in our own opinions.
And that unoriginal story? It’s not. Harry Potter is Lord of the Rings is King Arthur. What makes them original is the author, the voice only they have, the characters only they can make, the twists only they designed. That’s what makes stories original. The brain behind the words, and every single person who writes is telling an original story.
When that feeling strikes, remind yourself we’re all imposters in some way. We’re all stumbling around like the new kid in class, awkwardly trying to appear like we know exactly what we’re doing and making it even more apparent we have absolutely no clue.
But it’s allowed. Especially when you’re writing your first draft. Write shit, make it incohesive and garbage and such trash you wouldn’t even show it to your blind fish for fear of being judged.
Because you can edit it. You can edit garbage. You can’t edit a blank page.
I know this is a case of “pot meet kettle”, I’m terrible for that Imposter Syndrome and I want to give up all the time. But, I’m still working on my WIP despite the fact I’m pretty positive it’s just…. Bad. But hey, bad writing can only be edited into passable writing, it can’t get worse.
How do you get out of that Imposter Syndrome slump? Let me know in the comments below, or find me on Twitter.