Why do so many writers suffer from imposter syndrome? Despite a career as a professional writer Natalie Persoglio felt she was an imposter when it came to her personal writing. Find out how she shook off her self-limiting beliefs to embrace her new found writing identity.
My name is Natalie and I am an imposter
We’re all friends here so it only seems fair that I lay out my stall from the outset. I’d cultivated my identity as an imposter for many years. Believing myself to be alone with this condition, I didn’t believe for one moment that there was a tribe of like-minded folk out there who also struggled to call themselves ‘writers’ because of the dreaded Imposter Syndrome.
Despite having worked as a professional writer, in differing guises, for years (journalist, PR, copywriter, to name a few), I’d played host to nagging doubts about my fictional skills. As a result of this debilitating syndrome, I’d avoided establishing any kind of habit and left that writerly stuff to real writers while I sulked somewhere in the background. This attitude helped no one, and so it was time to grab my love of fiction by the balls and shake off the self-limiting beliefs.
“It was time to grab my love of fiction by the balls and shake off the self-limiting beliefs.”
Taking the #100DaysOfWriting challenge
I’m a sucker for creative writing workshops and always signing up to short story, flash, and novel-writing courses where I can satisfy the gnawing need to write creatively without revealing too much of my soul. Having reached Day 14 of a Writers’ HQ workshop (14 Days to a Solid Writing Habit), I read Jenn Ashworth’s blog on Prolifiko and was instantly smitten with the idea of a 100-day writing challenge.
Daily deadlines set on Prolifiko, coupled with the daisy-chain effect of building a habit, appealed to my serious-work side, which requires deadlines aplenty.
Attacking the symptoms of imposter syndrome
I knew it was time to directly attack the symptoms of my Imposter Syndrome, end the faffing and go gung-ho for this habit-forming experience.
Obviously, I’d need the perfect Christian Lacroix notepad, brushed-steel Schaeffer pen, sparkly office-in-the-garden, and Instagrammable setting first, of course.
Or perhaps I just needed to sit my backside down every day for 100 days, as the very act of ‘turning up’ is, as I was about to discover, as much about being a writer, as bashing out 6,000 words a day until the end of time.
I made a simple deal with myself – all writing activity counted; whether a sentence, 3,000 words, a short story, reading about characterisation/narrative, figuring out a knotty plot on multi-coloured post-it notes – it all counted towards a day of having written.
A commitment and a challenge
Don’t get me wrong, there were days when I faced a blank screen/page/mind, devoid of creative juices. On these days I set a timer for 25 minutes and freewheeled with anything that came to mind or worked with one-word prompts to kick-start the word flow. Often that’s all it takes.
“There were days when I faced a blank screen/page/mind, devoid of creative juices”
I need prompts, deadlines and accountability, which is what I love about the Prolifiko anticrastination (it’s a real word) platform. Attempting to reach a goal can be an insurmountable pressured task (zero-fun), breaking the goal into bite-sized (fun-sized) pieces helps overcome a mountainous task.
Developing a personal routine
As a natural night owl, I take my daughters for a walk and tuck the dog into bed (or is that the other way around?), choose a Deezer music *soundtrack and settle down to work. Other days I’ll catch 20 minutes in a wi-fi-less café and scribble in a notepad (disclosure: any brand of notepad will suffice).
If it’s a tricky day with little space for physical writing, I will make notes, sketch out a character vignette or spend ten minutes thinking through a development in my novel, but it all counts – and it’s been essential to the success of my 100 days’ challenge.
A few fellow writers joined me on the challenge (via Prolifiko and a private group on social media) and we check-in each day as an extra layer of accountability. We have moaned, stressed, celebrated and drank virtual wine whilst exchanging sweary rants and links to articles and thoughts. Here I found my fellow Imposters, and they turned out to be a bunch of prolific and impressive writers – who knew? They didn’t!
>>Related read: How to build a daily creative habit
Milestones: entering competitions
Each tenth day of my challenge I forced (and I mean forced) myself to submit pieces to lit sites, flash fiction competitions, schemes, which was virgin territory for me. What’s more is that I began to have some small successes – being longlisted and shortlisted for many of those to which I’d submitted. The hum of my Imposter Syndrome decreased with each successful submission.
“The hum of my Imposter Syndrome decreased with each successful submission.”
Day 100 and onto a #yearofwriting
Today I reached my 100th day. I’m approaching 30,000 words of my novel, seven short stories, ten flash fiction submissions, and 70 or so files of sketches, notes, research, plans, and this blog (I started with Prolifiko and so it seems fitting to end with a guest blog for Prolifiko).
There is less than an hour left of my Day 100 and I already know that the story doesn’t end here. I’m riding the roller-coaster to the bitter end and moving on to my next challenge #ayearofwriting – believe in yourself and join me! The future version of yourself who is waiting to work on the edit of your first draft will thank you for it.
“My next challenge #ayearofwriting – believe in yourself and join me!”
*Writerly, write, writer soundtrack by:
Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails (for angry scenes), Massive Attack, Happy Mondays, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against The Machine, Sigur Ros, Lenny Kravitz, The Doors, The Charlatans, Stone Roses, Moby, The Wombats, Royal Blood, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Faith No More, Marvin Gaye, Bastille, Simply Red, Alanis Morissette, The 1975, Jamiroquai, 90s indie, Prince, The Doves, Viola Beach, Wolf Alice, Arctic Monkeys, Outkast, Jimi Hendrix, Snow Patrol, Linkin Park, MC Solaar, Elbow, Beastie Boys, and more.