How Writers Can Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Seventy percent of individuals will suffer from imposter syndrome at some point. We talked to Lauren Malone, business coach and mindset expert to discuss some of the  ways forward.
Did you realise? Seventy percent of individuals will suffer from imposter syndrome at some point. They’ll doubt their own skills and accomplishments, and fear being exposed as a fraud. So when it came up as one of our masterclass topics for SilverWood Book Writing Club, we decided to explore all the ways to overcome imposter syndrome. We talked to Lauren Malone, business coach and mindset expert to discuss some of the challenges and ways forward.

First, how do you know if you’re experiencing imposter syndrome?

What is imposter syndrome?

The inner critic is like the devil on your shoulder that undermines you with a voice telling you you’re rubbish. However, it can be a positive influence because it makes you consider reworking things, or encourages you to face it when something is not right. It can make you a better writer. It can act like a critical friend saying, "Could you write it another way?" or "Are you on the right track with this character?

However, imposter syndrome is more problematic because you won’t always recognise the symptoms but you might be suffering a continuous fear of being exposed. Even though it shows up in different ways, Lauren reminds us that imposter syndrome is really a term that means you’re holding onto a self-limiting belief. Signs that you’re experiencing imposter syndrome might be:
  • You’ve got lots of ideas, but none of them seem good enough for a whole book.
  • Your ideas seem to pale in comparison with the last good book you read.
  • You believe you need to go on a writing course or get some more training because you’ve not done any serious writing since GCSE English.
  • You think that your writing is hopelessly poor quality.
  • With non-fiction, you think that you might be exposed as a fraud if you put yourself out there as an expert.
  • With fiction, you think people won’t relate to your characters or enjoy the story.

How can imposter syndrome affect your writing?

Once you recognise the symptoms, you might start to see the resulting behaviours happening - and this awareness will give you a chance to change them:
  • Procrastination - doing other chores and activities before writing.
  • Anxiety - comparing yourself to other writers.
  • Over-editing - losing the 'guts’ of a story.
  • Writer's block - staring at a blank page, trying to write something.
  • Total retreat - you stop writing altogether.

Ways to overcome imposter syndrome

The good news is that you are not the sum total of your behaviours. If you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, Lauren talks about some things you can try to overcome it:
  • Identify your current script - what the voice in your head is saying - and then develop a new script that you want instead, that will allow you to shift yourself out of it, "I’m doing that thing again... but I’m okay with it and I’m going to move on."
  • If the script isn’t clear enough, stop yourself and ask a few exploratory questions, "What am I uncomfortable about? Can I be okay with it and move on?"
  • Ask yourself why you feel like this. Is it your unconscious mind - which is always working to get the best results for you - suggesting that you need to do a bit of extra research or preparation... more editing... a last read-through?
  • Separate feelings from facts. Consider all the positive things people have said about your writing before. Ask yourself what a true and good friend would say to you in this moment - instead of a critical voice?
  • Counter the negative comparisons by re-framing the thought and your feelings. For example, "Everyone else in the group is brilliant and I’m not" becomes "Everyone in the group is brilliant and I’m excited that I’m going to learn so much!"
  • Get feedback and perspective. Buddy up with another writer; join a writing class or group; get some professional feedback from an editor or proofreader, agent or publisher. Feedback is a gift.
  • Acknowledge your common humanity by realising there are others who suffer with it and you’re not alone. You may even find new tools and techniques to help you. Even Jacinda Ardern has publicly talked about how she works to turn self-doubt into something positive.
  • Consciously slowing our brains down helps us to come up with our best ideas. So, quieten your mind with meditation or mindfulness techniques. Focus on feeling your pulse, or do some deep breathing exercises. Get calm because it will improve your writing.
Above all, don’t allow imposter syndrome to get in your way - keep writing. Defy that sense of fraudulence. Tell it to go away because you’re here to create something new and amazing.

About Lauren Malone

Lauren is a Deep Mindset Transformation Coach and an author. Her book The Expecting Entrepreneur is available now. Find out more about Lauren and her work at

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