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Imposter Syndrome as a Writer: Understanding the Phenomenon and Strategies for Moving Forward

Imposter syndrome, a psychological phenomenon characterized by feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt despite evidence of accomplishments, is prevalent among high-achieving individuals, including successful writers. Writing being a solitary activity, writers are vulnerable to comparing themselves to their peers, leading to feelings of not being qualified or deserving of their success. Famous authors, such as Maya Angelou, Neil Gaiman, and J.K. Rowling, have also experienced imposter syndrome, highlighting that it can affect even the most accomplished writers. In this article, we will explore the causes of imposter syndrome among writers and suggest some strategies for overcoming it. In this article I will review this phenomenon which I personally face on a daily basis.

 imposter syndrome, writer's block, self-doubt, transgressive fiction, personal growth, self-improvement
Imposter Syndrome

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their abilities and feels like a fraud despite evidence of their accomplishments. It is the feeling that you are not good enough or that you do not belong in the position you are in. Imposter syndrome is not a clinical disorder, but it can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues if left unchecked.

What are common signs and symptoms of imposter syndrome?

  • Feeling like a fraud or impostor, even if one has evidence of accomplishments or success.

  • A persistent fear of being exposed as incompetent or not living up to expectations.

  • Difficulty internalizing achievements and accomplishments, and attributing them to external factors like luck or timing rather than personal ability.

  • Setting excessively high expectations for oneself, and feeling like one has to be perfect or flawless in their work.

  • Undermining one's own achievements by comparing oneself to others and feeling inadequate.

  • Struggling with self-doubt and anxiety, particularly in relation to one's work.

  • Imposter syndrome can be particularly common among high-achieving individuals or those in competitive fields, as they may feel a heightened sense of pressure to succeed and perform at a high level. This can lead to feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy, as they may feel like they do not deserve their success or that they are not qualified for their position.

4 causes of imposter syndrome

  1. Childhood experiences: Individuals who grew up with high expectations or criticism from parents or caregivers may internalize these messages and develop a sense of inadequacy.

  2. Personality traits: Individuals who are perfectionistic or have a high need for achievement may be more prone to imposter syndrome.

  3. Cultural factors: Societal messages about success and achievement can contribute to feelings of inadequacy or impostorism.

  4. Work environment: Competitive or high-pressure work environments can exacerbate feelings of self-doubt and imposter syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome as a Writer

Imposter syndrome can be particularly common among writers because writing is a solitary activity. Writers spend a lot of time alone with their thoughts and their work, and it can be easy to doubt oneself when there is no one else around to provide feedback or validation. Additionally, writers are often exposed to the work of other writers and may feel like they do not measure up to the standards set by their peers.

Causes of Imposter Syndrome in Writers

There are several factors that can contribute to imposter syndrome in writers:

  1. Comparing oneself to others: Writers are often exposed to the work of other writers, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt.

  2. Fear of criticism: Writers are vulnerable to criticism and rejection, which can be challenging to deal with and can lead to feelings of self-doubt.

  3. Lack of validation: Writing is a solitary activity, and writers may not receive validation or feedback on their work, which can lead to self-doubt and imposter syndrome.

  4. High standards: Writers often set high standards for themselves, and when they do not meet those standards, it can lead to feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt.

Imposter syndrome and transgressive fiction Writing

Writers of transgressive fiction may experience imposter syndrome for several reasons. Firstly, they may feel like they are not qualified or skilled enough to write about taboo subjects, and that their work is not good enough compared to other writers in the genre. Additionally, the transgressive nature of their writing may expose them to criticism or rejection, leading to further self-doubt and imposter syndrome. However, it is important to remember that imposter syndrome is a common phenomenon that can affect anyone, regardless of their profession or success. Famous authors, such as Stephen King and Chuck Palahniuk, have also experienced imposter syndrome, demonstrating that it can affect even the most accomplished writers.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome as a Writer

If you are a writer struggling with imposter syndrome, there are several strategies that you can use to overcome it:

  1. Recognize the pattern: The first step in overcoming imposter syndrome is to recognize the pattern and acknowledge that it is a common phenomenon. Understanding that many successful people experience imposter syndrome can help to normalize your feelings and reduce self-doubt.

  2. Practice self-compassion: Self-compassion is the practice of treating yourself with kindness and understanding. When you feel imposter syndrome creeping in, try to be kind to yourself and remind yourself of your accomplishments.

  3. Set realistic expectations: Setting realistic expectations for yourself can help to reduce self-doubt and imposter syndrome. Instead of striving for perfection, focus on making progress and improving your writing skills.

  4. Seek feedback: While writing is a solitary activity, it is important to seek feedback from others to validate your work and get a different perspective. Joining a writing group or working with an editor can be helpful in getting feedback on your work.

  5. Celebrate your successes: When you achieve a writing goal or milestone, take the time to celebrate it. Celebrating your successes can help to build confidence and reduce self-doubt.


Imposter syndrome is a common phenomenon that can affect writers and other high-achieving individuals. If you are a writer struggling with imposter syndrome, it is important to recognize the pattern, practice self-compassion, set realistic expectations, seek feedback, and celebrate your successes. Remember, you are not alone in your feelings of self-doubt. We're all in this together!

Join my newly created fakebook group and let us share how we feel as transgressive writer with fellow writers.

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