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7 Triggers of Writing Imposter Syndrome: Reclaim Your Confidence

Writing Imposter Syndrome. It ain’t fun. Anyone who’s ever written anything will tell you that there are some days the confidence in your writing just doesn’t come. You read over yesterday’s words and you ask yourself, “Why anyone would read this junk?”

Confidence issues can come out of seemingly nowhere, and if they aren’t handled with care and grace for yourself, they inevitably lead to writing impostor syndrome.

Here are some of the things that can contribute to writing Impostor Syndrome so you can stop them before it destroys your writing confidence! Keep writing, Writer!

7 things that Lead to Writing Imposter Syndrome

There are a few things that can take a toll on your writing confidence and you’ve probably experienced all of them at some point. You may be experiencing some, or even all, of them now. Sometimes, they can hit you hard enough to leave you with a bad case of Writing Impostor Syndrome.

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What’s Writing Impostor Syndrome?

Impostor (or Imposter) Syndrome is when you feel like you are a fraud. And Writing Imposter Syndrome is when you feel like your writing is no good.

Here are some of the most common ones and what you can do to get the chaos out.

1. Confidence Struggles and Low Self-Esteem

We all get twinges of low self-esteem sometimes, but the difference between confident people and unconfident people is what we do when we feel those twinges. It’s no judgment—it’s just that one reaction will help you stay confident, and the other will make it harder to feel confident.

It takes conscious effort to push yourself back into the confident box, but it’s worth that effort.

When you feel those twinges of low self-esteem, stop and tell yourself, “This is a normal feeling that all people and all brains feel sometimes. It’s just a little brain glitch, and it’s not true.”

The hardest part about being confident is believing you’re confident. But it’s also the ONLY part to being confident.

2. Setbacks & Failures

Everyone has setbacks and everyone experiences failures, especially writers who often receive multiple rejections a day during submissions. It’s part of the human experience and it’s a GOOD thing.

When we don’t ever have setbacks or fail at something we want to do, then we don’t ever grow. We need to fail sometimes. It doesn’t have to lead to Writing Imposter Syndrome… it can be a chance to learn!

  • It strengthens our resolve… or breaks it entirely, so we build it anew. 
  • It toughens our skin… even though it can sometimes take a few tries.
  • It teaches us to see details… and sometimes the big picture.

Appreciate your setbacks and failures. Value them. And then milk them for everything they’re worth so that next time you start a new piece of writing, you’re that much more confident than you were last time.

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3. Decision Fatigue

When you have too many options to choose from, your brain goes haywire. When you are trying to decide what to work on—the short story, the blog post, the newsletter to your readers—it’s going to pull you in too many directions, and you’ll get decision fatigue.

It doesn’t matter how complete your pro/con list or how precise your statistics are. We are not logical beings, and there will always be some degree of emotion attached to every thought we ever have.

This is a good thing.

This keeps us human and allows us to live meaningful lives.

But it can also be a pain in the ass when it comes to things like deciding which novel project you want to work on. 

You can set yourself up for success here by scheduling days you work on each type of writing project.

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4. Information Overload

Similar to decision fatigue, but more often to do with the fast-pace of our modern lives. It’s your Facebook and Twitter feeds, your “Pin Now, Read Later” pins, your TBR pile, and all the tabs you have open related to the ‘acoustics of pine wood panelling’ for your next cozy mystery.

When it comes to research, sometimes we really do need to go wide before we go deep, but learning when and how to narrow down our focus is the key to staying on track and not getting bogged down in irrelevant details.

Writers need to be especially aware of this because when you spend too much time on the details that your productivity suffers, your writing confidence can take a hit, too.

Check Out: Write a Book that Gets You Noticed with the Heroine’s Journey

5. Comparing Yourself to Others Leads to Writing Imposter Syndrome

You know you shouldn’t do this, and yet, sometimes it still happens. It happens to everyone. Even the really confident people can get Writing Imposter Syndrome — or any of the other Imposter Syndromes! But the more you do it, the more you’ll feel those twinges of low self-esteem and questions about the worth of your own writing.

I can’t force you to stop comparing yourself to other people, but I can offer you this:

By setting your path to someone else’s, you are more likely to fail. In fact, you WILL fail.

Because what you see on the outside of someone else’s success is not the full story. In their heads are all of the insights you can’t grasp, the failures you haven’t learned from, the intuition you don’t have the years of experience to form, and the understanding of what it means to succeed the way they do—because you can’t read their mind.

You have your own path. Walk it, and let other people walk theirs. Your writing will be so much better if you do.

6. Indecision on What Direction to Take

Questioning your decisions isn’t a bad thing. It’s a trait that we humans developed to keep ourselves safe and alive. If we never second-guessed running down a ravine like a wildebeest, our species would’ve died out well before the holocene.

But now, we have more on our plate than “Should I chase that leopard into its den?” and “Are all red berries poisonous?”

Now we have decisions like, “Will wearing red make me seem powerful, romantic, daring, or sexually frustrated? Maybe I should just wear blue? Or will that make me seem boring and sad?”

And this feeds into the rest of our lives, too. We aren’t sure whether we should invest money in Amazon ads for our books, or if it’s a waste of time. We aren’t sure if we should look for another job, or ride this one out until we hit the NYT Bestsellers List. We aren’t sure if we should start This Is Us, or if there are too many seasons to catch up on at this point.

When you constantly second-guess yourself, you are inviting chaos into your Spirit. Trust your instincts. You’ve honed them for a reason.

And yes, sometimes, your instincts will give you a gut feeling without knowing the full story, and sometimes, that will lead to failure.

But most of the time, it’ll be the right choice. It doesn’t have to lead to Writing Imposter Syndrome for you.

7. Thinking Your Writing Isn’t Worth it Inevitably Leads to Writing Imposter Syndrome

Without something you’re passionate about, you can’t expect much from your life. Write something you love. Be confident in your decision to write it. And enjoy doing it.

Your confidence will thank you for it, and you’ll kick Writing Impostor Syndrome to the curb!

What do you do to keep up your writing confidence?

Let me know in the comments.

Let’s change some lives,

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PS — 🩵 When it feels right, here are 3 ways I can help you turn the page:

  1. The Book Map. Imagine having a GPS for your book-writing journey, guiding you from “I think I have an idea!” all the way to “OMG, I did it! I wrote a book!” That’s what the Book Map can do for you. It’s a supercharged roadmap for your writing journey. It’s not just about outlining chapters; it’s about diving deep into what you want to say and the best way to say it, ensuring every word pulls its weight. You’re not just writing a book; you’re crafting a masterpiece that feels as if it almost writes itself. Ready to make your book dream a reality? Let’s Book Map it!
  2. One-to-One Book Coaching. I have a vision of changing the world one book at a time, by teaching world-changers to create a book in a gentler, more effective way. A way that takes both you and your reader on a profound journey. I see a future where we build trust in our words, worlds, and work with our books, and where the world becomes a better place because of the books we write. My commitment is to bring to life books—fiction and nonfiction—founded on integrity. I’ll bring the map, and you’ll take us on the journey. If you’re ready to change the world with your book, your quest awaits. Apply for a free discovery call here. It takes 3 minutes.
  3. Listen to the Podcast. The Book Coach Chronicles: A podcast for writers of books, people who want to be writers of books, and y’all in the back who’ve been thinking about it but don’t yet consider yourself a writer. Listen on AppleSpotify, or Everywhere Else.

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Holly Ostrout is a book coach with a vision of changing the world one book at a time, by teaching big-idea entrepreneurs, coaches, speakers, and authors to create a book in a gentler, more effective way. A way that takes both you and your reader on a profound journey.
Holly Ostrout

Hi I’m Holly. If you’re going to change the world with your book, fiction or nonfiction, I can help you do it.

I'm a book coach for high-achieving, creative coaches, consultants, service providers, speakers, and authors who want to build a sustainable business around their book—whether that’s fiction or nonfiction.

I help you share your wisdom, ideas, and gifts by writing & publishing a life-changing book that helps you streamline your business, bring in more money, and change more lives.

I believe books are the most important human invention. And yours can change the world.

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Joyful, Easy Writing Can Be Yours​

Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Tracker & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.

Mockup of The Writing Ritual Creator from Holly Ostrout

Joyful, Easy Writing Can Be Yours

Writing Ritual Tracker from Books & Alchemy

Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Tracker & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.

Mockup of The Writing Ritual Creator from Holly Ostrout
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If You Want to Change the World with Your Book, You've Got to Write It.

Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Creator & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.