Imposter syndrome and writers — do you ever feel like a fraud?
Does the gender confidence gap affect writers as well? I’m curious.
A few months ago 3 of my Facebook contacts got their novels published: two of them, both men, were self-published, and it wasn’t a surprise because they had been sharing things about their writing all the time. The other one, a woman and someone I’m closer to, won an important literary prize. I didn’t even know she liked to write. I know insecurities are something all writers struggle with, but that got me thinking.
What do you think? Does gender affect your own confidence as writers?
I don’t know whether it’s gender related, but I definitely have a big case of impostor syndrome. Even though I have managed to build myself up as a writer, I feel like a fraud and each time an article gets published I’m terrified of being “found out”. It was the same when I did my PhD in physics, I thought any day I’d be found out as being a fraud and coasting along.
Self-published isn’t “published.” The more you evolve your writing, especially sharpening voice, sentence structure, details, narrative structure, the more you are likely to feel like a real writer. And, the more you write – daily if possible – the more you tell yourself that you are the real deal. I know lots of men with this problem. Write a letter to your writing and ask it what it wants from you? What does it need? ms
I have this issue. I’m not sure if it’s my gender as I’ve always been confident in many other things. I convince myself that I am good at things like math and science (these are what I studied at university) and therefore too logical for writing. I then feel like I tricked people when my writing goes well. I always think “fake it ’till you make it” so I figure eventually I’ll become accustomed to being a travel writer.
Interesting question Ana! Not sure your small sample from your FB is enough to draw any conclusions when it comes to gender, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a factor. Overall though, I think this – feeling like a “fraud” – is common across the gender divide. I’ve felt it in the past for sure and certainly feel it when it comes to playing music (comparing myself to the “real” musicians). The more I think about it though the more I can see how gender would play into it, it seems like that would be a natural consequence when a group of people is made to feel inferior for so long.
There are two deeper questions relevant to this kind of insecurity. How do you define a “real” writer? We live in an epidemic of commercial “star”dom. As Marge Piercy, a wonderful poet, has written: “The real writer really writes.” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/47399
And, you know best where you cheat your writing. Do you hate editing? Do you fail to proof-read? Are you working steadily to improve your craft? DO YOU READ? What is the ratio of your pitches to your actual writing?