I’m a Fraud and So Are You

ja09_books_creative_writingIt’s time for the truth to come out.  I’m a fucking fraud.  I’m a hack, a nobody, a nothing.  I’m just faking it and no one has noticed yet.  I’m a failure waiting to happen.

But so are you, so stop judging me, you asshole.

You’ll reach a point — maybe it’s today, maybe it’s tomorrow, maybe it’s in a hundred billion years, right before the sun goes supernova and blows this planet to teeny little bits — where you’ll begin to doubt.  You’ll say to yourself, “What am I doing?  I don’t know shit about this, but people keep paying me.  What the Hell is wrong with them?”  Your will is gonna threaten to break, your calm to turn into a fucking tsunami of panic.

And you’re gonna wonder if that’s it, if you’re done.

I’m here to tell you that no matter what confidence problems you’ve got today, you’re not alone.  Hell, the whole damn world goes spinning around uncertain if the next wobble will be the last.  We all get there, that’s what I’m saying.  In fact, it’s such a common problem that some science guy gave it a name.  It’s called Imposter Syndrome, and it affects all of us high fliers.  If you’ve got it, I guess that means you’re pretty awesome — but I’m not a psychologist, so I could be wrong about that.

As it turns out, we’re all insecure bags of meat, stuck to this planet by forces beyond our control.  I’ve known a lot of Creatives that hit the Imposter Wall and they were done — they had no idea how to climb over it.  That’s why I’m writing this post.  I think it’s fair to let you know that you’re not the only one.  In fact, the best writers I’ve ever met all share this particular problem.  Their great challenge in life is in overcoming these feelings so they can get their work done.

For me, I find great relief when I remember that what I do is insignificant.  Sure, it might help some schmuck sell another hundred dozen widgets, but in the grand scheme of things — it’s nothing.  I’m not curing cancer or finding a way to feed whole starving countries or inventing technologies that will revolutionize everything — I’m just a writer.  And while that’s important for a lot of people, it’s not a big deal.

Imposter Syndrome is a plague on our kind, it plugs up our writing tubes, keeps us from being at our best because we’re fighting demons at the same time we’re fighting the blank page.  At some point in your career, you’ll meet its ugly face — you’ll start comparing yourself to others — and you’ll stand on the precipice.  How you come out is up to you.  It’s a choice: climb that wall or let it become your prison.