So many writers end up staring at blank pages, finding themselves stuck, unable to get the ideas to flow from brain to paper. It often gets diagnosed as Writer’s Block. The prescription is time away from writing to regenerate ‘the muse’. Once back home, newly tanned from a beach, sleeves rolled up, some, frustratingly, still find their creative genius thwarted.
The Imposter Syndrome Connection
There are lots of reasons for writer’s block, from creative and physical exhaustion to lack of time, and everything in between. You can read more about how to recharge that creativity here. But there always seemed to be an additional component that remained elusive until I read this article from Harvard on Imposter Syndrome (https://www.google.com/amp/s/hbr.org/amp/2008/05/overcoming-imposter-syndrome). What it was describing seemed to be that missing piece to the puzzle. I recommend giving it a read to understand your writer’s block a bit better, and here’s why:
What is Imposter Syndrome?
As so adequately defined by Gill Corkindale in the article, Imposter Syndrome is:
“A Collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success”
This feeling can impact any portion of your life. For example, I suffered this in my professional life. As a clinical pharmacist in an intensive care nursery, I had plenty of training and experience that should have bolstered my daily practice. But no matter how much I knew, how much I studied, and how many years of experience I gained, I was haunted by the fear that I would be found lacking. So I worked harder, studied more, got a longer alphabet of titles behind my name. What happened? I burned out faster and faster, using up all my creative energy.
Interestingly, as I read the Harvard article, I began to realize that much of the same mental factors involved in Imposter Syndrome also play a role in writer’s block.
How To Undo the Imposter Syndrome Impact on Writer’s Block
Retraining behavior blocks can take some time and personal commitment. Here are 4 key steps to start working on now:
- Internal dialogue: what do you say to yourself as a writer? Is it more like, “My writing sucks!” Or do you give yourself some kudos? I’m a firm believer that what you tell yourself over and over, you will eventually believe. Find supportive ways to be positive to yourself. Remember, published authors make it look simple. But it is anything but that. Don’t let your brain put you down when you struggle to write. Instead, realize it’s all part of the normal struggle.
- Periodic doubt is normal:Meet it head on, give yourself a set amount of time to grieve, as it were, pick yourself up, and get on with writing. Continuing to focus on feelings of failure will keep you swirling in the mire.
- Talk:Find writerly groups on FB, Twitter, local libraries, or Meet Up and develop some professional connections, build friendships. Just don’t go it alone. These are the folks that will understand and help each other through the rough patches. Make sure the groups you join help build you up. Some social media groups are toxic. Prune those from your online feed. Here is a quick discussion on identifying which groups unfollow.
- Dream: Allow yourself to dream. It isn’t silly, childish, or a waste of time. It cultivates the imagination and gives our brains the permission to create. Think of a favorite story you’ve read. If that author hadn’t dreamed, your favorite story wouldn’t exist.
If you’ve been suffering Writer’s Block, re-center yourself with the list above. Change your internal self-talk and allow yourself to both create and have rough days. I believe Writer’s Block, initially, is a short-lived event that can turn into a much bigger problem if long-term attitude and behaviors reinforce negative feelings about self-worth.
Have you had Writer’s Block? Do you have suggestions on what how to overcome methods it? Share your experiences in the comment section below.