Uncategorized, Whispers

Beating Imposter Syndrome

by Rosie Wylor-Owen

Ambition isn’t simple. It’s a glorious hope of a better life, a contented life; maybe the ideal life that we’ve always wanted to lead, but it isn’t simple.

It feels that way when we first set out pursuing whichever dream we have latched onto with gusto. Isn’t it just a case of setting goals, taking a deep breath and diving right in?

I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember and the path to success seemed straightforward at first. Write a book and plonk it on Amazon, just like everyone else did. But before long, I realised that there was much more to self-publishing than I initially thought – I needed newsletters, advertising, a tantalising social media presence complete with engaging posts and hilarious tweets.

One thing was clear as time went on: the more I learned, the more I realised how little I knew.

Before I released my first full-length novel, Scorpio’s Grace in November 2019, I tested the waters by publishing a short story The Witch’s Touch. That soul-crunching combination of flinging my first piece of work out to the world for everyone to see, plus the realisation that I was woefully new to the industry, created a feeling I was all too familiar with. The feeling of unearned praise and bewilderment that someone might enjoy reading what I wrote: imposter syndrome.

My first 5-star reviews of The Witch’s Touch really sealed the deal. I was plagued with thoughts that the reviewers were just being nice or that their standards were so low that even my books looked good to them. From then on, every smidgeon of praise came with the same light elation and a side helping of despair. Because someone, somewhere was going to realise that every book I ever wrote was an overrated pile of garbage.

When I finished work on Scorpio’s Grace, my nerves were shot. This wasn’t just some short story; this was a full-blown novel. Over 6x the size, which would surely give everyone 6x the chance to realise that I was a fraud.

But as release day approached, the feelings of inadequacy got pushed to one side. Who had time for that when there was release parties to plan, newsletters to send and those side-tickling tweets to post?

By the time Scorpio’s Grace was released and had seen its first 5-star review, I had forgotten all about being an imposter. An occupied mind has little time to worry.

Two things happened when I finally took a moment to consider my self-worth again.

Firstly, I got a chance to reflect on what an amazing experience the release of Scorpio’s Grace had been. Organising the release and celebrating with author friends powered me through the process of publishing and scattered all thoughts of insignificance to the wind.

Secondly, I realised that if I hadn’t had the time to remember to feel like a fraud, perhaps I had worked hard enough to have earned just a little of my own self-respect.

Just like that, the 5-star reviews started to feel a little more deserved, and I began asking myself more positive questions. Questions like: are you really that bad an author if this many people enjoy your books?

Imposter syndrome affects a lot of creatives and it isn’t easily fought. For many of us, imposter syndrome will always be a factor in our lives, but we have a medium of control over how it affects us. Remembering past successes and taking a brief moment to enjoy some of those good reviews are crucial to building self-esteem based on realistic feelings of achievement.

As sure as the sky is blue, there will be a 1-star review on its way sooner or later to test our self-confidence without us constantly questioning our own abilities.

So, if Imposter Syndrome is preparing to strike, give yourself some credit. Remember a crowning achievement, read that good review or maybe, just maybe, gift yourself an unexpected compliment.

The battle to recognise our self-worth is never-ending, so our efforts to combat our doubts must be relentless. Grab a cookie, we’ve earned it!

Rosie Wylor-Owen is a book blogger at The Secret Library Book Blog and an urban fantasy author. Her books include Scorpio’s Grace, The Witch’s Touch and A Druid’s Secret, an upcoming novel in the Darkness Rising boxed set.

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