Authors: This is What Imposter Syndrome Looks Like

Nov 2, 2023 | Writing A Book

“Imposter syndrome is a behavioral health phenomenon described as self-doubt of intellect, skills, or accomplishments among high-achieving individuals.”

My clients are high-achieving individuals who are writing a book. Many of them face imposter syndrome. But no one comes to me and says, “Hey, coach, I’m having some trouble with imposter syndrome.”

Instead, they use two common phrases that tip me off to what is going on. Here they are, along with what you need to know about them if you’re an author facing down imposter syndrome.

“I don’t have anything new to say.”

If that means, “I don’t have a great idea that no one else has ever had,” you’re probably right. As Dr. Michael LeBoeuf said years ago, “The great ideas are too important to be new.”

Great business books don’t need great new ideas. What they need from you as an author is your unique perspective. Your readers want to understand something better or do something better. If your book delivers on that, it can be a great book.

Let me share an example from one of my clients, Suzi McAlpine. She wrote a great book, Beyond Burnout: How to Spot It, Stop It, and Stamp It Out. She made it a great book by sharing her personal burnout experience. She wrote the book in a novel way so that people suffering from burnout, their supervisors, and senior management could all find helpful advice. She commissioned some unique research.

You can do those things too. Share your unique experience, your own stories. Write for a specific reader. Do some original research and share it.

“Writing is hard for me.”

Here’s the truth. Good writing is hard for everyone. It takes work and concentration. If you’re writing a book, you must maintain your thrust and discipline over a year or more. Plus, if this is your first book, you must learn the ins and outs of how writing a book is different.

So, what do you do? Start by finding out what works for you. Every author I’ve worked with has had a slightly different writing routine. You may have to experiment a bit, but once you find what works for you, stick with it. My clients have written every day, once a week, on work breaks, and just about every other time you can imagine. One client spent months gathering his information and putting it in order. Then, he went to a rented condominium and wrote the book until it was done. He did that for every draft.

Once you know what works for you, hold your writing time sacred. Put it on your calendar before anything else. Please resist the temptation to schedule it around your other activities. Make writing the activity that everything else circles around.

Develop good writing habits. Learn to prepare yourself and your material so that you can start writing when it’s time to write. Before you wrap up a writing session, decide what to start the next session with. Minimize distractions.

Bottom line

You may feel like an imposter because you don’t have an idea that no one’s ever had before. Destroy that delusion. Instead, bring your own experience, perspective, and research to your topic and concentrate on making your book easy to use and helpful for the reader. You’re not alone. Everyone who tries to write a great book does hard work. Learn what works for you, hold your writing time sacred, and develop good writing habits.

Do those things, and you can write a great book and be proud of your work.

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