How to Kill Impostor Syndrome

Trust me, it’s a lot of crap.

Admittedly, I’ve been a long time sufferer with chronic Impostor Syndrome.

I guess as a writer, the disease should be an expected condition. But it’s not like I asked for the opportunity to spend weeks at a time feeling like I’m never good enough.

I don’t remember a time I longed to experience horrific bouts of envy and jealousy because other writers were hitting the mark and I wasn’t. I sure as hell don’t remember signing up for terrible bouts of depression and self loathing. Episodes made worse when the words just wouldn’t come.

I never signed up for all this.

Okay, maybe it was in the fine print. Damn, I’ve got to start reading that stuff.

For the longest time I suffered. Oh God did I suffer.

I’ve told you folks this before but it bears repeating. I suffered with it so bad I stopped creative writing for almost ten full years.

Yeah, I was still forced to write things like process and procedural manuals at my side hustle. But I’m talking about the good stuff, the fun writing, the creative writing. The only writing I really cared about.

Impostor Syndrome was running in my head so bad it wouldn’t let me even think about that kind of writing.

After ten years of fighting however, I eventually learned to play mind games with Impostor Syndrome. You know, tell it I wasn’t going to write anything with the intent of getting it published.

I told it hey, I’m just jotting down a few notes here. I know my writing will never be good enough to publish.

Don’t worry Impostor Syndrome, I’m listening to every word you say.

And it sat in my brain, it’s laser focus on every word I typed, every story line I created. It sat there and waited for a chance to smash any bit of hope it saw.

And it did.

Each time I wrote something I thought was pretty good, Impostor Syndrome made me believe it was crap. Not good enough, never good enough. You’re not, and you never will be, a writer.

I remember I kept thinking “When God? When will this madness end?”

Then I discovered Impostor Syndrome’s weakness.

Yes, my friends, Impostor Syndromes are strong and the population of these vile creatures is probably in the millions, but I’ve discovered a way to eliminate them.

You have to not give a crap.

You read that right. You have to not give a crap whether someone likes what you write, or even reads what you write.

Of course, you should want people to enjoy what you write and want to read it. Don’t get me wrong, I do too.

I’m not that freaking crazy.

Don’t go there.

My psychiatrist says I’m doing fine thank you very much.

The point is you have to not give a crap when they don’t.

Because if you do start giving that much of a crap when your stuff isn’t liked or read, you’re going to open the door to your brain and let Impostor Syndrome come waltzing right back in to set up house.

Is that what you want?

Okay then, here’s the damned ledge. Go ahead and step off it why don’t you?

Listen, you have to write first for yourself, then if you want, share what you’ve written with others.

Guess what?

Some of them will read. Some of them will like. And many others will neither like nor read what you’ve written.

You can’t control what they do so stop giving so much of a crap about it.

The only control you have is when you sit your butt in the chair (or lounge on a comfy couch) and lay down the words. When it comes to writing, the ability to pen words to paper is the only thing a writer completely controls. The better you get at it, the more people will like it. The more people like what you’ve written, the more they’ll read.

It’s a “if you build it they will come” kind of situation.

Except there’s no cornfield.

Unless you write in the middle of a cornfield.

That’s so totally strange, but I kind of think it’s really cool.

Anyway, when it comes to your writing why are you giving so much of a crap about what other folks think, do or say?

Stop it.

Stop giving a crap about whether your writing is good enough. Stop telling yourself you’re a fake and a fraud when people praise your articles, buy your work, or you hit a big Medium pay week.

You are not a fake. You are not a fraud.

You’re a writer.

Tell Impostor Syndrome you just don’t give a crap about the web of lies it’s trying to spin. I found a way to kill my Impostor Syndrome and so can you.

Just don’t give a crap.

Let’s keep in touch: paul@pgbarnett.com

Written by

A published author enjoying married Texas bliss. Dog person living with cats. A writer of Henry James' stories. Featured In MuckRack. Top Writer In Fiction.

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