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How to Overcome ‘Imposter Syndrome’

I’m in the wrong place. I’m not supposed to be here. My work shouldn’t be listed among these other blogs. The ones posted by literary students, journalist, and seasoned authors. My incessant ramblings seem out of place amongst them, interrupting their beautiful flow like a shell-less turtle rolling itself into a shallow pool (in order to experience the fully appreciate my sentiments here, it’s best to read that last bit once more, this time as Sir. Ian McKellen might. It’s better this way).

I work in construction. Project Management for an Electrical Contractor in beautiful New England. Before this, I spent several years in the field as an electrician. Days were long on construction sites. I listened to music through my headphones and avoided meaningless small talk by working in solitude as often as I could.

All the while, I would daydream of classic fantasy stories and popularized fiction. Over time, the music transitioned to podcasts and audiobooks. I spent thousands of hours adventuring through hundreds of stories.

My own writing started as snippets. A collection of folders saved on the ‘notepad’ of my cellphone. Pieces of ideas that fluttered through my mind. Names of people with faces I’ve never seen. Places in worlds that don’t exist. I didn’t know at the time, but these were glimpses into a fantasy world I myself would later construct.

Though I’ve never written one, I understand that blog aren’t meant to be autobiographical. I’ve told you my short story with comparative intent. YOU… no matter who you are… can write too.

Over the past few years, I’ve allowed myself to feel a considerable amount of ‘Imposter Syndrome.’ This, of course, is that nagging self-doubt that whispers “Only writers can write.”, and “No one will read this anyway, so why bother?”, or “You could never be a published author like ______ ______.” It’s a persistent downplay of our own abilities to create, and unfortunately, it prevents a treasure trove of stories from being written.

I have a minor case of dyslexia. I have to mentally fight the instinct to read paragraphs and sentences backward, and often out of order. This makes reading and writing incredibly difficult and frustrating for me. So, my special brand of ‘Imposter Syndrome’ sounds like “Bother you do why write so you can’t” (or, at least, that is how it gets jumbled up in my head).

And so, here are three things I think I’ve learned are throughout my endless bout with ‘Imposter Syndrome’:

1. Skills can be acquired:

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” E.L. Doctorow

We all start from the beginning, unless it’s me reading in my head. Everyone writes differently, which I believe is the very point of it. We can develop our individual voice through what we consume by others, mixed in with our own personal touch.

Every piece of literature is a lesson. Rather than compare ourselves to other authors, we can follow their works and use them as an inspiration to mold our own. Through this, we can collect the skills we need to project our own voice and to quiet the nagging whispers.

Nothing feeds ‘Imposter Syndrome’ like the anxieties surrounding negative feedback. But never take a bad review as a sign to give up! Rather, we can use this to fill our motivation and grow as writers. It may seem daunting, but we need to be vulnerable and open to accepting advice and direction. We can listen to critiques and spin them into opportunities to develop new skills and fine tune our craft.

Finding the right community is paramount. It’s important to remember that we aren’t alone in this. Look to others. Not everyone needs to live alone in the forests of New England for two years in order to get their story written… Henry Thoreau.

2. You are your only gatekeeper:

“You’re always going to be good enough to get started.” Sydney Alexis

I kept my writing a secret for many years. I was intimidated and embarrassed to think that I might have anything worth printing. But once we break through that barrier and recognize that no one is explicitly telling us we can’t, that’s when we realize we’ve been standing in our own way.

Sure, there are publishing houses that decide what gets “traditionally” published. But our ‘Imposter Syndrome’ often sets in long before we’ve even thought about publishing. Most times, it’s born before you touch the keyboard, and needs to be nipped in the bud every time you sit down after. Break down that self-imposed gate. Light it on fire. And then write about it.

Prove yourself wrong for doubting yourself. And prove yourself right by showing yourself you could do this all along.

3. Use your ‘Imposter Syndrome’ to your advantage:

“All right, it’s just fear. I don’t have to let it control me. I see it for what it is.” Morrie Schwartz

This one is wild… but I believe ‘Imposter Syndrome’ can help us. As soon as we identify it, we can detach from it. Rather than let it stop us, we can harness it, and allow doses of it to keep us humble. We can use it to remind ourselves that writing can be difficult, yes, but it’s worth our time and efforts. Our writing has meaning. Because otherwise, why else would we be talking ourselves out of it?

I’m no imposter. I belong here. Though I work in construction, I am a writer still. Though I have mild dyslexia, I’ve learned more through writing. Writing is not my profession or my life’s entirety, but I love it just the same.

The first draft of my first novel is nearing completion, and there’s an outline for a second and third to follow. I still fight my ‘Imposter Syndrome’ every time I sit at my desk. Through every word of this very piece you are now reading, actually. I literally copied and pasted three other blogs here first to find out the average length and structure. I have piles of short stories, poems, and sketches. And now, as you bear witness, I’ve written my first blog.

Meet Frankie V. Fichera III

Frankie V.F. is a writer from southern New Hampshire. He is currently working to complete and self-publish his first fantasy adventure novel. His passion and inspiration is found through hiking, photography, and yoga/wellness retreats.

You can follow his self-publishing adventures on Instagram @frankie.v.f

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