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How to overcome imposter syndrome for writers

Imposter syndrome isn’t unique to writers, but it can really stop us from writing. If you’ve ever struggled with self-doubt or felt like you’re not a ‘real’ writer, this post on how to overcome imposter syndrome for writers is for you.

I’ve suffered with imposter syndrome myself: it’s stopped me from writing, because I don’t feel good enough. Finding techniques to combat imposter syndrome doesn’t have to be hard, but sometimes you need an extra push.

I’ve listed some of the ways I’m overcoming imposter syndrome below. If you’re not familiar with what imposter syndrome is or how it can present itself, I’ve also got you covered.

Image by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is an intense feeling of self-doubt. For writers, this can feel like we’re not real writers because we:

  • Don’t write enough
  • Aren’t good enough
  • Haven’t been published ‘the right way’

If you worry about not living up to expectations, undervalue your own writing, or have a lot of self-doubt, you might suffer from imposter syndrome.

It can overlap with perfectionism, where everything we do needs to be perfect or it isn’t good enough.

Even when you’ve accomplished a lot in your writing career, imposter syndrome can pop up and tell you to doubt the positive reviews and compliments you receive. You could be a bestselling author and still feel like it isn’t good enough.

Imposter syndrome feels like you don’t belong in the position you’re in compared to others because you don’t feel adequate enough compared to others in the same situation.

What suffering with imposter syndrome can feel like for writers

Writers suffering with imposter syndrome feel like they don’t deserve what they’ve achieved. You might feel like you aren’t a real author or that you’re going to be ‘found out’ as a fraud.

For instance, a self-published author might feel that they don’t deserve to have a book signing because their book wasn’t published by a traditional publisher. Or they may feel like they can’t call themself an author due to being self-published.

You might describe yourself as an aspiring writer, even if you’ve been published in anthologies, literary magazines, or even won competitions.

Published authors also get imposter syndrome. Even after all the work they’ve done to get a book deal with a publisher, they might feel like a fraud because their book doesn’t feel as good as others on the market.

How to cope with self-doubt

Being anxious about succeeding as a writer or author is common, but imposter syndrome can add an extra layer to it. Doubting your own writing ability is hard enough, but being anxious about not being good enough can make it difficult to even start writing.

Understanding that your feelings can be attributed to imposter syndrome is the first step in dealing with self-doubt. Imposter syndrome is trying to sabotage you. It’s something you can fight against.

Instead of trying to ignore your feelings, try to acknowledge what you’re feeling. Try the Stop, Breathe, Notice, Reflect, and Respond technique: by slowing down and assessing the situation, you can find a way to cope with your thoughts and feelings.

Reframing and changing your mindset is a long-term process. By starting with one technique, you can find ways of coping with self-doubt and overcoming imposter syndrome.

4 ways to overcome imposter syndrome for writers

Having a self-care plan or self-care kit can help you deal with imposter syndrome and other mental health struggles.

Recognising ways that your imposter syndrome presents itself can also help you to overcome it. Early symptoms of imposter syndrome can be addressed quickly, helping you to cope with your feelings before they sabotage your mood for the rest of the day.

Writing affirmations for imposter syndrome

Affirmations are one of the easiest ways of overcoming imposter syndrome. By telling yourself positive, powerful statements, you can change your mindset.

An example of using affirmations for imposter syndrome could be starting your writing or editing routine by repeating “my novel doesn’t have to be perfect to be worth reading” or “nobody expects my writing to be perfect”.

Check out my list of 91 affirmations for writers for inspiration.

Finding support from others

Receiving support from other people can do a lot to combat imposter syndrome. You can connect with other writers or reach out to friends and family. Sometimes it’s helpful to talk to people who already know how you’re feeling, but other times you might benefit from talking to someone who can support you no matter what you’re dealing with.

You can find support in communities as well. There are Facebook Groups for writers, as well as the #WritingCommunity hashtag on most platforms (including Mastodon).

Support can be found from counsellors as well as book coaches. A book coach helps to encourage and motivate you through your writing journey. Some book coaches specialise in helping writers work on their confidence, like Kim from Brockway Gatehouse.

Gratitude journalling

Gratitude journalling is a form of journalling that focuses on recording and reflecting on things you’re grateful for. By focusing on the positives in your life, you can create a bank of positivity to reflect on when you struggle.

This is especially useful if you struggle to remind yourself of your achievements and worth.

You could fill up a notebook or spreadsheet with things you’re grateful for. Some people try to write in 3 things you’re grateful for each day. You can change this to suit your own needs.

Here are some ideas for things you might be grateful for to do with writing:

  • Writing a certain amount of words
  • Completing a chapter, section, or short story
  • Spending a certain amount of time on a writing project
  • Starting your writing routine in a certain way
  • Listening to an inspirational song

You could also ask yourself questions like:

  • What made writing easier today?
  • Was there a phrase or word I wrote today that I really liked?
  • What am I looking forward to working on?
  • Did I have any great ideas today?
  • Did someone say anything really positive and validating to me today?

There are other ways to journal as well. You could start a writing journal for tracking progress and ideas, or you could start a self-care journal.


Self-care is the conscious actions you take to meet your physical, mental, and emotional needs. This can involve meditation, yoga, counselling or therapy, regular walks, and so much more. It can take many forms and it’s different for everyone.

When you’re suffering from imposter syndrome, you can use self-care techniques to calm yourself down, find relief, and overcome the negative feelings imposter syndrome brings.

Some more self-care techniques you can try include:

  • Getting some fresh air for a few minutes
  • Spending time with your pet(s)
  • Making sure you’ve eaten
  • Drinking some water
  • Talking to your support system (relatives, partners, friends, other writers)
  • Working on a jigsaw puzzle
  • Playing a game on your phone or computer
  • Touching a comforting texture or using a fidget tool
  • Reading a book
  • Lighting a candle or smelling a fragrance

Developing a self-care plan can help you be prepared to deal with imposter syndrome and other struggles. A self-care plan can include strategies to deal with problems ahead of time and when you’re struggling.

2 thoughts on “How to overcome imposter syndrome for writers”

  1. Pingback: How to create a writer’s self-care kit | H Noss Proofreads

  2. Pingback: Affirmations for writers | H Noss Proofreads

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