You and I both have this friend that likes to come bother us from time to time. Outsiders call it the imposter but we both know it is more.
It is a friend that nudges us in the best way it knows how to. It is like a coach who never appreciates when we do something good but continues to question our abilities when we slip.
Imposter syndrome is real and we all live with it on a daily basis. It only needs a sliver of opening to protrude its head up and question us. It will remind you, every time you are taking a break you don’t deserve it.
Every night you are out with friends, it will keep whispering in your ear, telling you that you need to work on honing your skills. Every setback will give the imposter in you an opportunity to unleash itself.
Every time I take a break or due to some circumstances, am not able to write for days at a stretch, the imposter inside of me comes out to make me feel guilty. It is also very persistent and refuses to go away, until I get back to writing again.
Here is how I fight it:
Read My Own Articles
Especially the ones with got good engagement. Writing more than 75 articles is no joke. It might not be as good as writing 500 or 1000 but it still amounts to considerable work! It only reinforces the fact that I can write. It gives me faith that I can do it if I put my mind to it. It shows me what is possible — again.
I also know I have a lot to improve on, with respect to my writing, so I read about how to improve or watch videos that teach me something I can apply, the next time I write. It grows the itch to sit and write, bringing the want and hunger back.
Read About Improving My Writing
Keep reading and making note of ways to improve or tactics to use to get better engagement or views or whatever it is you are looking to improve and you will reach a point where the urge to apply and try will hit so strongly that you would have no choice but to act — to write, draw, sing or create!
Applying what I learn helps me improve and the improvement helps me shut down the imposter. It fosters excitement and often distracts me from whatever I am doing. I have found myself making notes, adding it as a reminder or making it a part of my To Do List just so I don’t forget.
Read What Others Write
This might sound counter-intuitive but reading through other writer’s articles also helps oil my thoughts. It allows me to gather content ideas, inspires me to create and makes me think. I have a document where I add potential content ideas and I also have a moleskin notebook I use to capture any sentences that make me stop and think because they have the potential to become a full blown article. All from reading what others put out there!
You don’t have to do it my way. Do what works for you — flash cards, one note, Evernote — there is definitely something out there for you.
I have a tendency to start articles but not complete them in one sitting. This means I have a lot of drafts in my Google drive on any given day which need to be completed, making it easier for me to write again. Completing an unfinished draft is easier than writing something from scratch when you are uninspired and coming off of a long break. Completing incomplete drafts allows me to warm up and makes me re-familiarize myself with what this looks like.
At the moment as I publish this, I have 22 unpublished drafts in my one drive folder. Drafts that are either incomplete, or unpolished or just ramblings from a night spent alone thinking about life! It is easier to pick them up and polish them instead of starting afresh.
In 2019, I took big breaks from writing four times. I am talking 4–6 weeks at a stretch! And I am not going to downplay the fact that it is difficult. It is very difficult to start and then to reach the same level of momentum you were at before you took that break. I am still trying to recover from my most recent one, which is also why I have figured out how to deal with it.
This does not mean you can or should be inconsistent like me. Neither does it give you the liberty to take big breaks. But if the damage is already done and you are trying to get back on track, hopefully some of this will work for you as well!
To summarize, you can try to:
Read your own writing
Read or watch videos about improving your writing
Read the work of other writers
Work on unpublished drafts.