I’m thinking about writing a memoir as my next book, and I’m having doubts!
Although I coach other people to move from fear to action, I still have my insecurities.
More than once, I've thought: Who am I to write a book?
Sure, I’ve accomplished a lot in my lifetime thus far.
But I haven't won a Grammy, Oscar or Pulitzer Prize.
I’ve run my own business landing national and international clients, worked on presidential campaigns, coached executives and celebrities, taught numerous classes, traveled the world and lived in other countries.
But, I'm not on the cover Fortune magazine.
Yeah, so what I’ve been published. It was such a long time ago. Besides, anyone can do a career change, become a flight attendant and write books within a matter of days.
Often, it feel as if I haven’t done enough.
Even worse, at other times it feels like I'm not enough.
These are some of my thoughts from a journal entry I wrote a while ago.
As I re-read them, I know that I like many of my clients, I am experiencing a very real thing known as Imposter Syndrome.
Coined by American psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, Imposter Syndrome is defined as the following:
“A psychological term referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.”
In their article first published in 1978, the two identified this as a condition commonly experienced by high achieving women. However, contemporary research shows that men also struggle with Imposter Syndrome.
Although it's not considered an official mental disorder, Imposter Syndrome can prohibit a person’s willingness to pursue new opportunities or achieve important goals such as authoring a book. Often he or she may feel as if they do not have enough experience or knowledge although there is factual evidence that says otherwise. Furthermore, writing a book detailing one’s life experiences can leave the author open to public judgement (think book critic reviews).
Imposter Syndrome creates fears and negative self talk. It's why we talk ourselves out of doing something that we said at one point we wanted to do. It can frequently sabotage one’s ability to start and/or finish writing a book. Imposter Syndrome can even show up as writer’s block.
Here’s some of my other thoughts stemming from Imposter Syndrome:
Do I want people all in my business like that? To know my failures and fears? What if no one cares what I have to say? Worse, what if no one reads it?
So, before I write my next book, my first step is developing an author's mindset by tackling ImposteR Syndrome. This involves identifying and challenging internal doubts (again and again). These thoughts, also known as limiting beliefs are sometimes as the front of our minds, but yet they persists. Others are buried deep in our subconscious that it sometimes takes a while to expose them to ourselves.
That's why the exercise of uncovering and addressing such doubts is a frequent practice aspiring authors (first, second or third time authors) must do to move us forward.
So, where to start?
I often think of The Marianne Williamson’s quote that was made famous by Nelson Mandela:
"We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?'
Yup, who am I to write a book about my journey? Why do my experiences matter?
But, Williamson goes on to speak the truth that we must acknowledge in order for us to move through resistance:
Actually, who are you not to be?" You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.
Combating Imposter syndrome begins with reversing negative thinking, This means giving more attention to possible positive outcomes rather than negative ones. For example, I challenge mine, by going back to my personal mission statement:
If my passion and purpose is to use my talents, experiences and others to make a difference in other people's lives. What if knowing my struggles and my strategies for success can help someone else? Can make the path a bit easier? For authors, what if a new book can provide a comprehensive example of how to organize and structure content for a compelling book. A book can be an amazing platform to inspire, teach and encourage others. I’ve blogged about my travels. I’ve written other books. This is also another great opportunity to walk others through the book writing process!
What if people read and like my book? What if it helps them write a book?
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Gotta get your mind right and finally get your book done in 2020?
Starting in November, I'm hosting another Roadmap To Writing Your Book Bootcamp to jumpstart you on your journey or to move you further along. If you're ready to tackle your Imposter Syndrome, develop an author's mindset while learning more about the steps to start AND finish writing a book, email me for more information on how to join.
Alicia N. Ingram is a passionate, hard-nosed book editor, ghostwriter and writing coach who believes well-told stories can transform hearts and minds. This belief fuels her work to help aspiring authors start AND finish the books. For more information, visit www.wordsmithwonder.com.