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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Insecure Writer's Group post #`1

I love support groups, in my previous life as a psychotherapist, I used to facilitate therapeutic groups. The thing about working with people who have various types of mental illness is that you are able to recognize your own, shall we say, eccentricities. In one of the first stories I ever finished, my protagonist was thought to be a genius and he feared that everyone would at some point recognize him as a fake and a phony. The story resonated with a lot of people and at some point I realized that his fear is my own. Not that I am a genius, far from it. But in almost everything I do, especially writing, there is a fear that I am not as good as other people think I am. That I am somehow using light and mirrors to create an illusion of good. There is a name for this. It is called Impostor Syndrome. In other words, people (in this case, I) can't seem to internalize that I could actually do something well. 

Even as I crave positive feedback when I give someone a story to read, there is a part of me that almost brushes it off when I get it, in order to hear the things that need to be changed. It isn't modesty, it is a true belief that on that second reading the story they enjoyed the first time will suddenly morph into crap that they want nothing more than to wash off their hands. If I struggle with this now, who knows how out of control it will get if I actually become successful? Now, I am off to Jiu Jitsu, where the instructor told someone that I caught onto things pretty fast. I don't really believe that could be true though. 

Thank you to all who are willing to read and comment. Most of all I want to thank Alex J Cavanaugh who conceptualized and hosts The Insecure Writer's Group's. I am still trying to figure out how to get the link thing to work so I cut and pasted this one. (See, I faked that I could do it). Gulp, maybe I was a Mili Vanili in another life. 


  1. Imposter Syndrome, what an interesting concept. I worry when people think I'm good at anything, because I don't want to disappoint them, and I know I always will. There's some deep seated insecurity for you. But,I'm getting better. A little self-deprecating humor helps.

    Thanks for the post. It's nice to know we're not alone.

  2. I think a lot of writers have thought this to some extent. I often ask myself if what I write is of any worth. I feel like if it came from my brain does it hold the same value as writing from other people brains? That's a quick way to feel like a failure before you've even begun.

    I'm loving this hop, great to meet you!

  3. Oh, I hear you loud and clear. I spent 23 years in my last job feeling like an imposter and now, as I wrote in my post today, I wonder if I am a fraud in my writing too. We wait for validation from publishers, from readers, but even when it hasn't arrived yet, you must trust yourself. Regardless of the thoughts echoing in your brain, just keep writing. It is the only way.

  4. I think I know how to fake it really well - just don't tell anyone!
    And I'm really glad you joined the group - hope it is a blessing to you.

  5. I worry the same thing too, but I don't know if I have Imposter Syndrome. Probably because when I hear that someone liked what I wrote, I feel elated, I don't doubt their opinion.

    Try to look at the silver lining, it will drive you to excel.

  6. So, is it true that people who say their crazy really aren't, because crazy people think their normal?

    I've been meaning to ask that for years now. It just cam gushing out here.

  7. To the eyes, I am a huge fan of self-depreciating humor. I think it is how I pick my friends. Not sure what that says about me, hmmm

    J.A., nice to meet you and thank you for stopping by and bringing the empathy.

    Liza, I think you are right the answer to all our writing insecurites is to just keep writing anyway.

    Thanks Alex, I appreciate you coming up with the idea and sending out there.

    Patricia, I get elated too until I start questioning it all. Not that I am suggesting you should. I love those silver lining.

    Rusty, there is some truth to that but I don't know that when dealing with people you can ever make a blanket statement. However, I will say that I have never met someone truly psychotic who doubted the reality of his/her hallucinations or delusions. But it does take a sane mind to rationally go through the process of seperating reality from delusion.

    Sometimes, I have sat in a session with someone really psychotic and wondered- what if he really knew what was going on and I was the one who didn't. Everyone is a little crazy in one area or another. That is what allows us to stand one another.

  8. This. You've hit the nail on the head. I'm a master of self-deprecating humour, although I call it 'putting yourself down before someone else does.'

  9. I always say, fake it 'til you make it. I've had episodes of that imposter syndrome, like one day people will discover than I've had just lucky stumbles all my way through life. Glad to know it affects more than just me.

  10. bWelcome Julie, thanks for following. I think everyone probably feels like this at times, which is one of the reasons I think that first story did so well. Sarah, I knew there was a reason I liked you :).

  11. Yeah, imposter syndrome is pretty common. Do you find that those with it alternate from that to an "I'm ALL that and a bag of chips" attitude? Maybe an impartial critique group would help; they aren't as concerned with your feelings as a friend or spouse.

  12. We all think we're imposters because life is an improvisation and we've been taught we're supposed to have a script! I remember the first time I told someone I was an "actress" - I felt like such a fraud. Even tho, at the time, I was making my living on stage.

    But after all these years, I'm
    finding my endless insecurity SOOO boring , In fact, I've started talking to it the way I talk to my dog when he goes crazy. "I know sweetie, you want that squirrel, but you can't have it. You can bark all you want, but it ain't gonna happen. But go ahead, wear yourself out."

    Somehow, not fighting my frantic inner imposter makes it shut up little!

    Love the blog, my friend!

  13. Thanks for the suggestion Will. I haven't always seen the alternating attitude or maybe I just recognize it in myself. I have my writer's group but fear I may have tricked them too :). Jayne, you, as always, make me smile. Thanks for following. Hope to see you soon.