Imposter Syndrome & Creative Writing

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

So here we are, nearly 1 year into the pandemic, 1 year into this blog being “live”, and I have made only 2 posts during the whole of 2020.

I honestly cannot say I am surprised.

Discipline for me has always been a struggle, starting and stopping and starting and stopping so many things I love to do has become a sort of routine at this point in my life. Guitar, biking, dancing, video making, ukulele, collaging, writing poetry & short stories: All of my creative pursuits seem to take a back seat when University and work demand my attention. But in truth, I cannot just blame busyness for my lack of drive towards creative activities. And though I cannot identify a singular cause of my lack of creative motivation, I can say, however, that imposter syndrome as well as the “Live to Work” mentality have certainly contributed to the problem in many ways.

Ah yes, good ole’ imposter syndrome come to say hello. For those who may not be familiar with the term, imposter syndrome is the feeling of not fully believing in yourself and your abilities and convincing yourself that you are a fraud who doesn’t deserve what you have worked hard for. For example, not deserving your position at a job or thinking you don’t belong in a certain space. It includes symptoms like:

  • feeling you will never live up to others (or your own) expectations
  • self-doubt (lots of second guessing)
  • self-sabbatoge
  • overachieving to the point of perfectionism
  • belittling your work or skill set
  • & immense guilt when you mess up

I could probably fill an entire book on how this mindset has negatively impacted various areas my life from school work, to my career choice, to relationships, but for now I will just focus on how it has impacted my creativity. I use to think I was just lazy. Surely I had enough time to focus on my creative hobby during a global pandemic? So why was I writing so little? Why had I not made any art? Why wasn’t I focusing on dance? What did I have to show for all my time at home? If we control for the fact that there is a literal pandemic going on, it is not so much laziness that has me in this on/off relationship with my art & writing but rather this feeling of “Who cares what I have to say? Everything meaningful that could be said seems to have been spoken hundreds of thousands of times by people far more influential and educated than me. I have nothing to contribute. I am not a creator. I am not an artist. I am not a writer. Those are things that other people are. People who I admire. But not me, never me, not possible. I don’t belong here.”

It is very self-indulgent, I realized, to keep up this kind of “woe is me“, self-deprecating attitude and use it as an excuse to why I decide never to finish anything or never to interact with the creative world. The truth of the matter is this: I am scared what people will say and so I avoid doing anything that could illicit judgement from anyone or any group.

But this is no way to live and certainly no way to get where I want in life.

Perfectionism doesn’t exist, and it is about time I learned to accept that. I cannot please everyone (most of all myself), but that shouldn’t keep me from sharing my writing with the world or doing something creative just for me. The fastest way to ensure I don’t grow and change is to choose not to do anything outside my comfort zone.

My creative writing teacher in high school gave me some of the best writing advice I have ever had. One popular piece of advice he echoed was to “Kill Your Darlings“. Though standard advice given by many experienced writers to aspiring writers, he put his own spin on it. The traditional advice is essentially to not be afraid to scrap scenes, characters or ideas when writing a story. My teacher took this a step further to include not being afraid to put your work through the shredder that is public opinion and scrutiny. It is taking the hardest step for many writers and letting ‘your darlings’ out into the world. A very necessary step of the process, though albeit not always a pleasant one. How can you become a better writer if you rarely write or never let anyone read your writing? Short answer: It is very difficult, no matter how naturally talented you may be.

There is so much about the process of writing that is mysterious to me, but one thing I’ve found to be true: writing begets writing.

-Dorianne Laux

In light of this realization and to help me get over my perfectionist attitude and fight imposter syndrome when it comes to writing, I am challenging myself to write every single day for the rest of the year. To start off I am going to post some form of writing publicly every day for an entire month.

The challenge starts now.

–Livi

By livilaree

Hey! My name is Livi. I am a travel enthusiast, writer, and biomedical student researcher. I write about my experiences with travel, graduate school, science, and being a womxn in STEM as well as short stories and poems.

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