The feeling that you’re a fraud, that you’re not good enough, that all of your accomplishments are simply accidental, that’s Imposter Syndrome. It’s something I’d like to say we all face, but that’s not true.
As Bertrand Russell states, “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”
Most people who are terrible at something don’t suffer from Imposter Syndrome. They just think they’re amazing and it doesn’t matter (to them) that they’re not.
Having natural talent is nice and the development of skill is important, but action trumps everything else. Those who are sure of themselves (fools and fanatics, usually) keep pushing forward and are able to achieve, while those who are wiser and care about skill stop. We stall out
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.” – Bertrand Russell
As this applies to writing and business, those concerned with doing great work are hesitant because they want it to be amazing, while those who don’t care as much just send their work out into the world even if it’s not finished.
There’s a lot to be said about this ready, aim, fire mentality, but with writing, in particular, you do need to work on it if you want it to be great. (This is true even for people with whom writing comes more naturally.)
Something to note: more books were published in 2017 than in all of the 1980s.
It’s easier than ever to get something published, so you don’t need to be as good. Putting work into the world that’s shit should never be the goal, but on the other hand, if Stephenie Meyer had waited to become a good writer, Twilight would never have happened.
The same is true with Fifty Shades of Grey.
If each of these writers can sell millions of copies of a terrible book, imagine what you, someone interested in producing great work, can do.
That means you actually have to learn how to create great work, and then put it out there. You have to ignore the voice in your head, which by virtue of the fact that you’re listening to it and worrying about it means that you’re going to be more likely to produce great work.
Having Imposture Syndrome is the very thing that’ll make you great.
And maybe you never get over your Imposter Syndrome, maybe that feeling never goes away, but it does lessen and overtime, you stop letting it control you because you know that having Imposture Syndrome is the very thing that’ll make you great.
You begin to get over it by creating consistent work, and by seeing that you’re getting better.
It’s never going away. Those of us who consider ourselves artists will always sit in the overlap of absolute narcissism and crippling self-doubt, and that’s OK.
It’s better to struggle to produce truly good work than to put more bullshit out into the world just because you can.
In either case, you need to take action.
For some, action means just writing things and putting it out there. For others, action looks like putting in a little extra time to edit after creating great work. And sometimes it means knowing that you need help, and signing up for writing services.
Sometimes, action means learning. You improve your skills and learn to push down the artist inside of you who’s afraid. That’s a difficult place to walk, and that’s why mentorship comes in handy.
You’re always going to have to work to get better, whether on your own or with a coach or mentor.
As Neil Gaiman says, “The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something and that at any moment now they will discover you.”
As you get better, these problems amplify and you’ll need to keep dealing with them.
Welcome to being an artist.