Imposter Phenomenon and writing blocks

You can take an online test and see if the Imposter Phenomenon (IP) is interfering with your life or writing. Basically the IP describes competent people who feel that they are frauds. Many aspiring and even successful writers carry feelings of not really being “writers.”

Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck confessed grave doubts about his ability as a writer in The Journals of the Grapes of Wrath. This example illustrates how powerful self doubts for a writer can be, even in the face of enormous accolades and success.

Steinbeck persevered with his writing, despite his uncertainties, but many do not. Imposter thoughts are just the kind of mental habits that are capable of undermining your ability to stay motivated and confident enough to initiate or sustain writing.

One of the issues for those experiencing the IP is that they do not accept or believe positive feedback from the universe about their capabilities. They attribute success to luck or other people’s inability to see their flaws, and they discount compliments.

If your self concept is that you are a fraud who has not yet been found out, then writing creates risk, because the written word exists as a concrete testament to your ability as a writer. If you secretly harbor suspicions that you are not a writer, you might not want that confirmed by negative feedback coming from the reading public. It may feel safer not to write, or at least not to publish.

If you feel the inclination, need or compulsion to write, and you do it – you are a writer. Period. There is no magic initiation ceremony, no checklist of required accomplishments, no minimum SAT score required. If you write you are a writer, and not an imposter, poseur, fake, or charlatan.

And if you can’t release the belief that you really are a fraud, keep in mind that there is no law prohibiting an imposter from writing a book.

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About David Arnot Rasch

Author, psychologist, speaker, workshop leader
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