Impostor Syndrome: When Writing Isn’t Your Main Gig

Estimated reading time: 10 minute(s)

Who You Are

You are not a full time writer. You have to work a non-writing related job in order to afford luxuries like food and running water. Gasp! You don’t make enough money to live on from your writing? You haven’t made any money from your writing? Cue the Impostor Syndrome!

Impostor Syndrome

Maybe you even feel bad because the money-maker that distracts you from your writing is something you love. You have this whole career that’s making you money, but you’ve been working on the same damn book for two years now. Or five. Or ten. Whatever.

Point is, as long as you’re writing and trying, you aren’t an impostor. It’s normal to have to take time away from things you’d love to be doing to focus on things you have to be doing. It took me fifteen years to learn that for myself.

You Can’t Write During Earthquakes

In the past, I would look at my shelved WIP and throw my hands up at my job. “No, no, no! I refuse to let my dreams die!” and my work would suffer as I wrote. Hey, did you guys know that employers prefer people who work hard and show up on time? Who’d’ve figured?

Anyway, I eventually realized that in order for my writing to thrive, I needed a solid foundation from which to create. If it helps, imagine you’re sitting at your writing desk and typing away at your laptop. The ground begins to shake and split, crumbling beneath your writing chair. Soon, you fall into a deep chasm and you can’t write anymore.

That is the consequences of neglecting what you have to do for what you want to do.

Writing Is Always Going To Be There

So, if you’re currently on your grind and not writing your novel, don’t let any impostor syndrome bullshit creep into your psyche. You are a writer. You will always be a writer. That is never going to go away. Right now, you might need to focus on building up your foundations so that you can write in a safe and secure place. That is fine! Books aren’t written overnight. Good things take time and you will get there.

Sometimes when I start to feel like I’m taking too long to finish a project, I remind myself that I can still publish when I’m 50. Or 60. Or 100. It’s okay if this doesn’t happen right away. And that’s another thing…

Impostor Syndrome & Biological Clocks

I’d rather this project I’ve worked so hard on for so long be the best that it can be before I try sending it out to agents. Impostor Syndrome can kinda be like a writer’s biological clock, though. Just like how a woman might feel pressure to bear a child before it’s “too late,” a writer can feel pressure to publish to assuage these feelings of “not really being a writer.”

Don’t do this. It doesn’t help. I self-published my first book before it was ready and I regret it. I regretted it weeks after I did it, to be honest. Almost a year’s worth of work pissed away because I wasn’t patient enough to take the time to polish it the way it needed to be polished. No real editing, no critique partners – just uploaded to Amazon so that I could finally feel like a writer.

All it did was make me feel like a bad writer. You owe it to yourself and your project to take the time and effort to make your WIP the best it can be. Trying to outrun a clock that just doesn’t exist is a recipe for disaster. And it will only make you feel worse in the end.

Impostor Syndrome Is Trash

But you aren’t. They call it a syndrome because it’s like any other disease – an illness or disorder that is not your fault. If you write, you are a writer. If you love to write and aren’t able to write right now, you are a writer. Nothing will take that way.

See you on the bestseller’s lists, fellow writers! You can find my short stories here and my Doctor Who fanfiction here. And Jenna Moreci has some excellent thoughts on Impostor Syndrome here! And remember:

You are a writer.

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