Last week, I sent my memoir off for copywriting. I have to say that again because damn, does that feel good! My memoir (somebody pinch me, is this real?!) is in the copywrite stage. After almost three years, my book is complete and is now getting polished, which means it’s another step closer to being in your hands as you sip your morning latte on a sunny Sunday morning.
This milestone has had me thinking about everything it took to get my book to this stage. What comes to mind immediately is navigating impostor syndrome.
The first time I ever considered writing a book was when my mentor said she envisioned me writing one about my spiritual journey after I lost my job (I refer to this period of my life as my Dark Night of the Soul. If you want to hear more about this experience, check out my podcast guest appearance with The Psychic Wives). While I was excited about the idea of writing a book, I didn’t exactly know what that story was and if I could actually write about it.
Over the next few months, any time I’d sit down to write about my past – many of those experiences traumatic – I was overcome with emotion. I’d cry as I relived intense memories. I’d cuss at myself and the computer for not knowing what to say (hello, writer’s block).
During that time, you’d see me frozen at my desk letting unhealthy thoughts spin in loops, “Do people even care about you and your story? You’re not even a real writer. You don’t have any training and experience, so what makes you think you can write a book?”
Regardless of these uncomfortable thoughts, I pushed forward as another voice inside me kept saying, “You need to tell your story. You can do this. You are a writer.” I had to keep this voice alive, so I bought myself a typewriter necklace I wear almost every day to remind me of my goals. I also joined writers’ groups, writers’ workshops and filled my bookshelves with writing guides and memoirs from authors I admire. I wrote positive affirmations on my office chalkboard and often spoke them aloud to replace my doubts.
While these things helped me move forward, impostor syndrome never quite left me alone. It appeared in slightly different ways, making me second-guess my memoir pursuit, “Can I call myself a writer yet? I don’t actually have anything published… Should I tell people about it? They won’t take it seriously… And what if I never finish? Even if I do, will it be successful?”
The way I worked through these new doubts was the same when I first started writing: I moved forward regardless. I changed all my bios on every social platform, like LinkedIn and my professional website, to claim that I am a writer. I started telling people I was writing a memoir. I started crafting newsletters and blogs about my experiences as a writer.
My debut memoir is where it is today because I didn’t let my worries and doubts win. I still have my days when impostor syndrome brings out the skeptic in me, but I’ve gotten better at recognizing it and letting my true voice (the one focused on my goals) soften the negative noise.
Yes, writing my memoir was hard (so f’ing hard at times) AND that payoff was worth it. I healed. I learned a new craft. I made sense of my life. I listened to my true self. I enhanced my empathy, self-discipline, and time management. I created art to help others heal, grow and break free from their own judgement habits.
What has your true voice been telling you to do? Have you been listening to it?
If you want to learn more about impostor syndrome, check out my podcast guest appearance on The On-Call Empath.
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PS – Here’s an affirmation if you’re struggling with impostor syndrome, “I was born to try new things and to create. Only I decide what success looks and feels like.”
PPS – Do you want to remove some of the fear you have towards a project you’re working on (or should be working on)? If so, get out your journal. Here’s a writing prompt: What’s the absolute worst thing that could happen if you moved forward with your project and didn’t succeed? What’s the absolute best thing that could happen if you moved forward with your project and you did succeed (get dreamy here). Is the potential payoff worth the risk?