Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.
I’ve got some bad news: It’s only a matter of time before everybody finds out you’re a fraud. Those publications of yours? A fluke. Your story that got a good review? The reviewer was drunk. That time your crush blew you a kiss? Totally meant for the person standing behind you.
And the good news? I never promised good news. Have fun circling the drain!
Ha ha! Just kidding! That was all a delightful jape! You’re not a phony, you’ve got a raging case of impostor syndrome. Impostor syndrome is the sense of dread you feel that all of your success, achievements, and accomplishments were acquired through luck, nepotism, and pity. It has hamstrung the careers of many writers whose names I’m too lazy to look up. But it doesn’t have to ruin yours. There are many ways to beat impostor syndrome. Some folks will tell you impostor syndrome is merely the result of leveling up, or will reassure you that you really have earned all those accolades. That’s easy for a bunch of famous, successful authors to say from atop their ivory towers. Well, Famous Author Bill Ferris is offering you some different strategies from atop his throne of skulls:
- False positive. Many folks who say they’re afflicted with impostor syndrome don’t have it, because they have not accomplished anything worth faking. You can’t call yourself a criminal mastermind for stealing packs of gum, and you can’t call yourself an impostor because of your “success” at earning $10 plus contributor’s copies in that literary journal. You’re not a fraud, you’re just mediocre. What a relief!
- Re-gift it. Impostor syndrome is like an earworm; it gets stuck in your head till it drives you crazy, and the easiest way to get rid of it is to give it to somebody else. Mention to a friend how similar their novel is to one of your favorites, the one that everybody has read and is now sick of. Point out how the magazine that published their latest short story is going under because their terrible stories made their subscribers set themselves on fire.