You’ve made the leap by quitting your full-time job, and you’re fully committed to going freelance.
You’ve done your research, taken a course or two, and you’re pitching your heart out.
But, the hours turn into days, and the days turn into weeks. You still haven’t gotten that great paying gig that you hear so many other writers gushing over, and you barely even have a portfolio.
“What am I doing wrong? Why am I not as successful as these other people? Do I have what it takes? Am I just not good enough?”
These fears and doubts begin to paralyze you, and you find it tough to even touch the keyboard without feeling discouraged.
You try to go about your day and distract yourself, but in the back of your mind, you know you should be writing.
You can’t bring yourself to do it because you think whatever you do will be worthless and be a waste of time.
What Exactly Is Imposter Syndrome?
This affliction can be described as a person’s feelings of inadequacy and incompetence, in spite of real proof of their talent and success.
Ask yourself if any of these statements apply to you:
- I am a perfectionist
- I feel like I should always be working
- Free time and hobbies are stressful to me
- If I have to put a lot of effort into something, then I’m doing it wrong
- I don’t like to receive help from others
- If I don’t exceed all of the requirements for a job, then I shouldn’t apply for it
If one, some, or maybe even all of these struck a nerve for you, then you might be stuck in a very debilitating way of thinking. These mental prisons you’re building for yourself can end up creating self-fulfilling prophecies.
The Circular Trap
If you agree that you’re both a perfectionist and that good work should be effortless, then you could end up not doing any work at all.
You might think, “I can’t complete this task without any errors at all, and so it isn’t worth doing.” But how much do you think would ever get done if everybody had this mindset?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret…
Nobody, in the history of humanity, has EVER known how to do something before they actually decided to do it.
Barely any of the successful and talented writers that you compare yourself to have degrees in writing or in the niches that they’re authorities in.
And yet here they are, making money and churning out seemingly endless streams of powerful writing. How do you think they got there?
Were they born with master writing ability and savvy business sense? Are they superhuman?
No! They started out exactly where you did, and the chances are good that they experienced the same fears and doubts that you’re feeling right now. Those dark thoughts that keep creeping into your mind are going to make or break you.
Successful writers are made by them.
How do you stop them from breaking you?
Defeating the Imposter
It’s all too often the case that we become our own worst enemies. When this happens, we need to fight back and channel the parts of ourselves that will be our greatest allies.
It might be difficult, but it can be done when you have a good approach.
Remember Your Talent
You didn’t decide to become a freelance writer because you’re terrible at writing.
You did it because you know you have skills to offer as a writer that nobody else can. Be proud of who you already are and the talent that you have right now.
Look at back at something you’ve written in the past. It could be an old essay, a journal entry, an old blog post – anything.
Pay attention to how you used a consistent voice, presented your ideas with a logical flow, formatted wonderfully, etc. Praise yourself for your accomplishments, and remember that you are still the person who accomplished them.
Remember Your Struggle
It’s doubtful that you’ve made it this far in life without mastering something that was really difficult. Was it learning to drive? Learning to cook? Riding a bike?
Chances are, you were pretty terrible in the beginning.
You probably gave yourself a beating and told yourself that you couldn’t do it. But for some reason, you kept doing it.
Despite the stress and the outright it may have brought you, you kept at it. What was that spark that never went out?
It was the desire to gain the skill. The belief that you were good enough to do it. The shame of not achieving your goals.
It was the combination of thoughts and emotions and experiences that we call the human spirit.
Remind yourself of the hardship that you’ve experienced. And, most importantly, remember that you defeated it. Be your own #1 fan, and remind yourself that you are:
You have faced more difficult things in your life, and you’ve overcome them and become a better person because of it. Writing is just another “thing,” and you need to believe that you will achieve it.
Putting It All Together
Now that you’ve identified your harmful thoughts and tendencies, it should be easier to recognize when you start to fall back into those patterns in the future.
It’s alright to be afraid, and it can even be helpful to have fears, but you can’t let them control you.
Keep reminding yourself that you are an accomplished person with a lot to offer the world, and that you are strong enough to achieve anything you put effort into.
Step back from your work and take a few breaths if you need to. Realize that you aren’t alone when it comes to self-doubt, and reach out to others and talk about what you’re experiencing if you think it’ll help you.
Most importantly, don’t give up.
Stay strong and stick to your guns, and I promise you that it will all be worth it in the end.
Over to you – how did you overcome imposter syndrome? Share your tips in the comments.