By Laura Drake
Having a hard time sitting in that chair and watching that cursor blinking at you? You are not alone. I’m afraid. Every. Single. Day.
We make excuses, like:
- No time – I have a busy life!
- Classes – I don’t know enough
- Research – I don’t know enough
- Too many plot ideas
- Not enough plot ideas
- No writer space – people keep bugging me
- I will. When…
- Never finish
- Edit – fo-evah
But honestly, don’t those excuses most often boil down to, ‘I’m afraid’? I know it does for me.
We’re afraid of success. We’re afraid of failure. We’re afraid to look stupid.
Let’s play, shall we?
Imposter syndrome Test
- Not at all true
- Very true
Choose your answers write down the number of your response.
- When people praise me for something I've accomplished, I'm afraid I won't be able to live up to their expectations of me in the future.
- At times, I feel my success has been due to some kind of luck.
- Sometimes I'm afraid others will discover how much knowledge or ability I really lack.
- When I've succeeded at something and received recognition for my accomplishments, I have doubts that I can keep repeating that success.
- I often compare my ability to those around me and think they may be more intelligent than I am.
- If I am going to receive a promotion or recognition of some kind, I hesitate to tell others until it is an accomplished fact.
Add up your results.
12 or less, you have few Impostor characteristics
13 to 18, you have moderate IP experiences
19 to 24 means you frequently have impostor feelings
24 and above means you often have intense Imposter syndrome.
Okay, hope you did better than my 26.
Let’s talk about tools to get around the fear.
Recognize the benefit of being a novice. Think about a preschooler; what do they do when they make a mistake? They don’t think it’s their failure. They just try again.
Focus on Learning, not performing. Be a preschooler – not a junior high schooler. People expect you to make mistakes! Take advantage of this and make all you can!
Behave as if. This is one of the forces of the Universe. I made an entire career by doing this.
I’m always surprised when people tell me that I’m a calm head and a problem solver. Because I’m not. I’m just keeping a calm exterior, and paddling like the devil, underneath. And you know what? It works. I can always do more than I think I can. And acting like I know what I’m doing not only convinces others – more importantly, it convinces ME.
- Positive self-talk – Whether you know it or not, you already practice this, but it may be the wrong kind. ‘I’ll never get this/God, I’m stupid/what was I THINKING?!’ Most of us talk worse to ourselves than we EVER would to someone else. And that’s just jacked-up. Your brain believes what you tell it.
- Pay attention. Correct yourself. Out loud (if you’re not in public). It may seem all woo-woo but try it. It’s a powerful tool.
Analyze opportunity cost – I was a Corporate CFO in my other life. Definition: the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen. Ex: Choose to retire – good things but giving up potential opportunities and $.
- Write a list of what you have to gain by finishing.
- Write a list of what you have to lose. Because there are things you’ll lose: family time, other hobbies, reading, sleep!
- Compare the two and decide. At the least it will show you more about your fear.
Focus on Small goals – First goal is to finish – because if you don’t, the rest doesn’t matter. It’s a mistake to look too far ahead. You end up worried about rejections, when you don’t even have anything to submit yet!
Make a list of small goals – finish a chapter, make an outline, write 2 days this week.
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
Do you have fear of success? Fear of failure? Imposter syndrome? What questions do you have for Laura? She's answering them down in the comments section!
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