Imposter’s Syndrome

There’s a lovely video based on Ira Glass’ series on storytelling:

It’s a great message for any storyteller, especially those of us who are getting into this later in life. This was the basis for my post Novice Writer, Advanced Reader. But I think this is also one of the main contributors to the prevalence of Imposter Syndrome among writers.

Emmie Mears has a great guest post on Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds Blog about it: We’re Here to Revoke Your Artist Card.

I think the reason this affects so many writers is that no matter how hard we work to close the gap, we run into two main problems:

  1. We don’t realize how far we’ve come
  2. We keep moving the goal posts

When I first started working, I used to install antennas on communication towers. The standard height was about 110 feet or so, and climbing the ladder to the top was an arduous process.

When working at height, the conventional wisdom is not to look down. But from experience, I can tell you that it’s much worse looking up. Seeing a hundred feet of ladder stretching away in the distance makes the whole thing seem really daunting.

And that’s the problem with not realizing how far you’ve come. Sure, you’re halfway up, but the ground looks so much closer and the top so much farther away. It’s hard to reconcile the fact that you’ve made a lot of progress.

As for moving the goal posts, it’s like an adage World of Warcraft players used to pass around: you kill mobs to get better gear, so you can kill more mobs; so you can get better gear, so you can kill more mobs. Ad infinitum.

No matter how good you get objectively, you still see work that so much better. And you strive to be that good, but then you get there and realize, well, know I know how to do it, so it’s not as good as I thought it was. Oh, look, that one over there is much better. I should do that. Ad infinitum.

There isn’t much that can be done except to keep pushing forward. But identifying the process helps to cope in some small way. And that’s all we can hope for, really.

If you want to check out Emmie’s work you can find it on Amazon:

Ayala Storm Series (Book 1)

Shrike Series (Book 1)

They’re both free to read if you’ve got Kindle Unlimited.



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