Thursday, January 26, 2023

The Imposter Syndrome by Connie Berry


Almost every author I know has it—the feeling, deep down, that whatever success they’ve achieved in their writing career won’t last; that the book they’re working on now will never come together; and that their next book will never be as good as their last one.

In every book I’ve written, there has come a time (usually late at night in the dark) when I think, “Nope. This time I can’t pull it off. I’ve written myself into a corner. I’ll have to give up.” Fortunately (so far), I haven’t given up. I’ve soldiered on, counting on my unconscious, creative brain to offer suggestions, fill in plot holes, and give me renewed hope.

January has been an encouraging month for me—mentions on several “Best Of” or “Favorites of 2022” lists. And then an Edgar nomination. Believe me, I’m thrilled. But that old imposter syndrome suggests it’s all been a fluke. I’m trying hard not to listen.

If you’re plagued by the imposter syndrome, I have some encouragement and a practical suggestion.

·       Encouragement: You can pull it off. Yes, you can. You’ve done it before. You can do it again. Stop fretting and get to work.

·       Suggestion: When plot holes loom and everything seems hopeless, make a list of possible solutions, the crazier and more off-the-wall the better. If familiarity breeds contempt, toss out the familiar. In my experience, desperation breeds creativity.

Have you experienced the imposter syndrome? How do you battle against it? 


Susan said...

Absolutely, Connie. And I do what you do—soldier on. Congrats again on your nomination!

Jim Jackson said...

Connie -- It happens frequently enough that I call it a friend, toast it with a glass of wine, and tell it to get the hell back to its cave.

And it eventually does, after it realized one glass of wine was all the attention it deserved.

KM Rockwood said...

Congrats on your successes!

If I hit a real roadblock, I back out of the project & let the characters, who are always clamoring in the background, take over. They always have a solution.

Of course, I have to admit that I do have several manuscripts filed away, never to see the light of day, that just aren't that good. I consider them learning projects.

Shari Randall said...

Oh, my, yes, it never goes away, does it? Love your suggestions, and Jim's.

E. B. Davis said...

Yes, I feel that, too. But then, I focus on my work that I not only like, but know if I hadn't written it--I'd want to read it. That's confirmation for me.

Kait said...

Oh, yes! Jim, I'm adopting your solution - win/win!

Like you, Connie, I soldier on - it's all we can do.

Molly MacRae said...

If I try hard enough, I'm able to feel like an imposter in almost every aspect of my life. Thank goodness I'm mostly too lazy and just let it bug me about writing.

Lori Roberts Herbst said...

Congratulations, Connie—I'm so very, very happy for your successes. Well-deserved, my friend!

As for imposter syndrome, oh my, yes. I blogged about it myself not too long ago. As with an exorcism, it helps to call it out by name.

Grace Topping said...

You are doing great, Connie. No worries about succeeding. I hit a major roadblock with my first book and didn't know how to solve it. I put it aside for about two weeks, and a very simple solution suddenly came to mind. If I could solve that major problem, hopefully I'll be able to do it again.