Squawk! Pesky Parrot here. The old bird who sits on your shoulder and cackles about how rubbish you are. Imposter! Why are you bothering?
But, wise-up, friend. If you answer back, I’ll fly away and find someone else. Plenty of others around, you know. I’ll leave you a stray feather. Use it as a reminder to banish me.
I’ve left feathers everywhere. Joanna Harris has some:
“Every writer you know feels afraid – and the feeling seldom goes away. Thus, every word you write is an act of courage.”
And Maya Angelou, (boy, that was a long old flight to USA), she’s had me on her shoulder too:
“Each time I write a book, every time I face that yellow pad, the challenge is so great … each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out.”
I’m giving away my secrets now. You’ve caught me on a good day. If you want to banish this self-doubt, my friend, you need STRATEGIES. Because, another of my victims, dear Sylvia Plath, bless her heart, she got it in one when she said: “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
Think about it:
- A problem shared is a problem halved. Join a writing group. Share your work with like-minded people who can offer you honest critiques. Return the favour. Learn to be a judge of the written word. Go with your heart but let your head help you be objective. The writing community is generous and they’ll help you feel less lonely. I’ve visited, Jessie Cahalin, she’ll vouch for that: “Reaching out to the Twitter #writingcommunity with my writing questions helps to get me back on track…, making me feel my writing voice is valued. I am also a member of the #RomanticNovelistsAssociation, Cariad Chapter and New Writers Chapter where everyone is supportive, kind and keen to share their own doubts…. Turn your back on the imposter whispering doubts in your ear. In the words of the French philosopher Descartes, ‘I write, therefore I am.’
- I’m doing myself out of a bit of mischief-making here, but I’m on a break, so here’s another snippet. If you keep thinking you are an imposter, you’ll convince yourself. You’ve spent hours, months, years on your writing. Why does that not count for anything? I bet you work/ed long hours in your day job. Did you think that made you an imposter? I visit Sue Moorcroft from time to time, but she’s a hard nut to crack, this one. She starts to think her work in progress is “rubbish, the new book won’t sell and [her] reviews are going to be bad.”. But here’s how she reasons: “… my strategy for overcoming imposter syndrome is to keep writing, try my hardest with every book, learn from past hiccups and try to avoid them in the future. I’m contracted to write books and so that’s what I do.” This lady has published twenty novels, a novella, a writing guide, courses, serials and hundreds of short stories and columns … many around the world. Well, I know what she’s done with the feathers I’ve left her with. I won’t bother her any time soon.
- Maybe you’re not published yet. But my kind self is wanting to confirm you are still a writer. It helps to be published, sure; what you’re aiming for, I believe. Angela Petch (I know she pins many feathers on her noticeboard), she started off by winning a Flash Fiction Competition at the Ipswich Arts Festival in 2008. She couldn’t believe it when her name was read out. Her mouth was so wide open, my Missus could have laid an egg or two in her gob. Winning boosted her confidence; like an affirmation. She’d been runner-up in Writing Magazines, but this win encouraged her further down the path. From then on, I heard her shyly tell people she was a She’s even given her details to strangers on trains and aeroplanes. She’s connecting more, dragged herself out of the introverted state that the imposter strangled her with and engaged with social media.
Another lady I trifle with from time to time (Sarah Painter), she’s had the audacity to publish a book about the tricks I get up to. How very dare she. These are the last of the tips I’m going to share before I fly away to find another unsuspecting victim, so take note of what she’s written in The Worried Writer.
- Tell yourself he loves you, but he’s not very bright, so send him away to sit in a corner and turns him into a lovable critter. He cannot differentiate between fear and excitement. (Now, that’s just plain rude, don’t you think?)
- Use the power of habit to write and make sessions achievable. Plan and schedule ahead to make it into a ritual. Write in the same place at the same time. Put writing appointments in your diary to give them gravitas.
- Don’t think: “I should be…”. Tell your family what you do is important.
- Be nicer to yourself and don’t focus on the stick method. Think more about the practice of writing and not the product. Reward yourself and have fun days off.
- We are too close to our own work, so it is hard to judge ourselves. There is no universally agreed-upon good book. Stop judging books by good or bad. Just think, it’s not my taste.
- Concentrate on a positive outlook and choose to enjoy your dream job. Focus on your love of writing and don’t see other authors as competition. Every writer is a reader and we are a self-sustaining industry. THERE IS PLENTY OF ROOM FOR EVERYBODY.
That’s all, you sorry lot of writers. As much as it makes me hop from side to side on my perch, here is the link to this lady’s guide.
I’m off to hunt for more victims. Sqwalk… happy writing.
(c) Angela Petch
About The Postcard from Itay:
Italy, 1945. ‘Where am I?’ The young man wakes, bewildered. He sees olive trees against a bright blue sky. A soft voice soothes him. ‘We saw you fall from your plane. The parachute saved you.’ He remembers nothing of his life, or the war that has torn the world apart… but where does he belong?
England, present day. Antiques-shop owner Susannah feels adrift. Her beloved father has died, and her grandmother Elsie’s memories are disappearing. But everything changes when she stumbles across a yellowed postcard bearing a picture of a beautiful Italian stone farmhouse, tucked away in Elsie’s dressing table. A message dated from the Second World War speaks of a secret love. Could her grandmother, who never talked about the past, have fallen for someone in Italy all those years ago?
With Elsie confused and distressed by her questions, heartbroken Susannah tracks down the house on the postcard. Arriving at what is now a crumbling hotel by the sparkling Italian sea, she feels strangely at home. And after an unexpected encounter with handsome wine waiter Giacomo, she can’t tell if it’s his dark eyes or his offer to help solve her mystery that makes her heart race.
Together they find a dusty chest tucked in a forgotten corner of the building. The white silk of a World War II parachute spills out. And the British pilot’s identity tag nestled in the folds bears a familiar name…
As a story of lost memories, terrible betrayal and impossible choices unfolds, Susannah comes closer to a devastating wartime secret at the heart of her own family. Did she ever really know her grandmother? And when she finally learns the truth, will it help heal her pain – or tear her apart for good?
An absolutely stunning page-turner that will sweep you away to the olive groves and majestic views of the Italian coast. Perfect for fans of Kathryn Hughes, Fiona Valpy and Victoria Hislop.
Order your copy online here.