The Good and Evil of Book Writing Impostor Syndrome

By: Mary Anna Rodabaugh in Book Writing and Editing

Nearly all of us can remember a time when we read a book that profoundly moved us. You know that book that you just didn’t want to end but couldn’t put down. Perhaps the author of that book wrote other works that you enjoyed. Or maybe they just wrote one epic story and that was that.

Then, one day, you decided you wanted to write a book. You had a story to tell. You had a lesson you wanted to impart on readers. You had an inspirational journey you thought others could benefit from knowing. So you sat down at your computer or notebook and began to write down some initial thoughts. The premise was exciting. The overall task seemed daunting. But you were meant to write this book.

A few outlines or draft chapters later, everything seemed muddy. Your words didn’t seem to make sense. Your story felt mundane and ordinary. You began to question if you even had a story to tell. Who would care? Why should you be the one to write it? Do you even matter in a world full of billions of people?

Dear writer, this is the dreaded impostor syndrome. It hits everyone at different points of the book writing journey. Sometimes in the very beginning, other times at the very end. It is a moment where crippling self-doubt paralyzes the author into thinking they are not good enough and their story doesn’t matter. Comparison comes into play, followed by extensive research into other authors. Now your book looks like a watered-down version of some other famous author’s book.

Do you abandon your project? Do you play it safe? Do you give it a few weeks and hope the impostor syndrome will pass?

Absolutely not.

The Good and Evil of Book Writing Impostor Syndrome believe in yourself

The Evil Side of Book Writing Impostor Syndrome

Today, comparison is rampant. Social media has made it so easy to see into the filtered lives of others and can make you question everything about your own life. The same goes for writers. When you see your writer conference friend snag a trilogy book deal or your favorite bestselling author pump out another winner, it is easy to feel inadequate.

Humility is a gift, but it can also push your down into the ground. When you believe your story is not good enough, you can literally convince yourself not to write it. Then no one gets the privilege of reading your work. Impostor syndrome can instill such a sense of doubt within your creative soul that you will rob the world of ever getting a chance to experience you. That’s kind of selfish, is it not?

So while you think you’re being humble on this book writing journey by assuming “who is going to care about little old me?” You’re really robbing the world the opportunity to experience your hero’s journey and the incredible, resilient, inspirational human that you are.

The Good Side of Book Writing Impostor Syndrome

Instead, channel that self-doubt, anxiety, and fear into something good. Lean into your uncertainty by making sure you are developing a story you can be proud of. Challenge yourself to dig into detail at a microscopic level so your readers feel like they are standing in the room with you. Allow your emotions to spill onto the pages. Make your book as authentically you as you possibly can.

Because here is the thing, you are the only you that has, does, and will ever exist. Your journey may have some similarities to others’, but it is uniquely your own because you lived it. Your story is told through your lens, your heart, and your perspective. No one else can replicate that. Which is why impostor syndrome is really just a little book writing cold feet you can simply shake off.

Readers will never know what it means to be you, learn from you, or experience your life until you give them the opportunity to do so. Your book is important. You are important. And your story needs to be told.