Saturday, April 13, 2019

Imposter Syndrome Is a Real Thing, and Yet . . .

When I meet people for the first time, sometimes our conversations turn to career. I tell them I’m a book editor, and then if they’re remotely interested in learning more, we might have to first get past their idea that an editor’s only task is to find and correct typos. 

This is a little like telling someone you’re a fiction writer and they assume you write books, but you write short stories. Or they assume you write for adults, but you write for the YA market. So you tell them what you do. You say, "I write [fill in the blank]." 

But do you say it with full confidence?

Knowing what line editing is, I like what the author of this article said about it as opposed to substantive or copy editing: “Line editing skills are all about our writing—as a whole.” But may I just tell you how intimidating that statement could be to me some days, skills or no? I could easily ask myself, Who am I to give input into anyone’s writing as a whole? Someone might find out I don't really know what I'm doing!

This, my friends, is an example of imposter syndrome, and I have examples from real-life experiences, toonot just as an editor but as a writer. Maybe especially as a writer. Sometimes when I tell someone I’m a writer, the next question is, “So what have you published?” And then my answer is thin because they’re talking about work published under my own name.

Yet this imposter syndrome is by definition unfounded. It's like phantom pain; there, but not from a source that exists. And it doesn’t consider the degrees we might want to assign to it, like beginning writer or unpublished writer. It sucks up the whole of us. Yet even the most gifted, published, successful writer can take a dive into the imposter syndrome waters. We know that because some of them have told us so!

Why is it so easy for writers to say to themselves, Who am I to think I can write anything someone would want to read? I think when we do that, we’re forgetting who we are. So I’m going to be brave enough to tell all of us who I think we writers (writers because we write) are—or in some cases, need to be to fight imposter syndrome:

·       We’re people to whom God gave a desire to communicate with the written word.
·       We’re people with a story or stories to tell.
·       We’re people who will never be perfect at the craft because we always have something to learn.
·       We’re people who are probably better writers than we think we are.
·       We’re people brave enough to put imperfect work out there.
·       We’re people who avoid saying, “I write, but [fill in the blank].”

If you write—for pleasure or for publication—remember who you are, and, if you’re afflicted, kick imposter syndrome to the curb. It might not be easy, and you might have to fight almost constantly, but then again, there’s this: “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence” (Jeremiah 17:7 NLT). Start there.

Jean Kavich Bloom is a freelance editor and writer for Christian publishers and ministries (Bloom in Words Editorial Services), with more than thirty years of experience in the book publishing world. She is a regular contributor to The Glorious Table, a blog for women of all ages. Her published books are Bible Promises for God's Precious Princess and Bible Promises for God's Treasured Boy. She and her husband, Cal, live in central Indiana. They have three children (plus two who married in) and five grandchildren.

1 comment:

  1. I love number one on your list. God gave me the desire for a reason,and His gift gives me confidence. May my words be Light and Life to individuals who read them. Whether those words are officially published or not!