When you don’t know how to do something, pretending that you do is the next best thing. That’s how all humans learn. Children by imitating adults, and adults by going to expensive conferences imitating other, more experienced adults.
Only some skills, like writing, don’t have a graduation date or a certificate.
Pretending to be a writer is the best way of learning how to write. Pretend for a long time, and it starts to feel more like writing and less like pretending. Pretend for years and years, and you’ll be one of the more experienced pretenders out there.
But then the impostor syndrome kicks in because you suddenly remembered how it all began. How all this was just some make-believe you got too excited about.
Now you’re caught. People are noticing. Soon, everyone will know you’re no good. They will know you tried to trick them into believing you were a real writer. The moment feels like having your pants pulled down in front of an audience.
A professional performer keeps talking. The show must go on, so they deliver the speech without missing a beat. Somewhere, between two sentences, they lean down and, calmly, pull up their pants. The audience doesn’t need to know it wasn’t a part of the act.
Impostor syndrome is real, and if accomplished artists are to be believed, it never goes away.
So, don’t feed the impostor. Don’t give him a room in your head because he may move in for good. Show him the door, and then pull up your pants and keep telling your story. Nobody has to know.
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