Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Finding Your One Percent

I've always enjoyed blog posts from the Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) and finally got around to joining. Fortunately, something happened this week that is great material for my first IWSG post!
Note: I can never actually keep track of the timeline of my therapy sessions. They're an hour long, but feel more like fifteen minutes. And the exact wording of the conversation? Forget about it...
Imposter Syndrome
I started therapy for general anxiety disorder a couple weeks ago, but this weeks session hit me particularly hard. I'd like to share what happened, because I think it bears something critical for those of us with imposter syndrome (which I just learned is an actual psychological condition and not just the woes of being an aspiring author--insert cheesy grin).

Here's what it is:
"Impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be." (Wikipedia)
During this weeks session, my therapist asked me to tell her something that I could say, "I'm good at that."

In all honesty, I was quite comfortable with shamefully replying, "Nothing."

See, there are things I like to do, but I'm not really 'good' and anything. In fact, I think I SUCK at everything.

Finding Your One Percent
Well, my therapist narrowed her eyes (that's only a guess--I was crying too much to tell) and asked me, "Is there anything you think you do well at all? It doesn't have to be 100%. Something that maybe you're 1%."

I admitted writing. And that was hard.

I've had some success with my writing, so I really couldn't say no. One percent isn't that much. But the real reason I said, 'writing,' is because writing makes me happy. Sometimes I even catch myself writing something and saying, "Hey! That ain't half bad."

As aspiring unpublished authors, we often think success is classified by agents and book deals. But those of us who have spent any time researching the industry know it's a complete crap-shoot to get published. You can be an incredibly talented author, but getting published still requires timing and a bit of luck.

The Take-Away
You're not an imposter, so what are you 1% good at? Don't let your enjoyment of something be denied because you're not 'perfect' at it. Live in the moment and find something you're 1% good at, then revel in it! That doesn't mean you won't improve or write the pants off Stephen King after you polish off your cheese danish. But you are at least 1% good at something.

And that's pretty cool.


  1. I think I'm 'getting' pretty good at writing, or at least always trying to improve myself in that area.

    It definitely sounds like you are more than 1% good at writing!

  2. Oh, so that's what it is :) I agree, it's VERY hard for me to respond to praise. If someone says they read my book and loved it, I automatically assume they actually hated it and are just being nice. I've had to work hard on smiling and saying thank you without making excuses.
    Great post :) And welcome to IWSG.

  3. This is a brave post. I stuggle big time with this. I do a lot of that scratching out like above and putting in new words. I really want you to find good success. My vibe tells me you are the real deal and I'm never wrong about stuff like this. I'm new to IWSG. Hi!

  4. Thank you for posting for the IWSG!

    Very cool of you to share this very personal post. Doing what you enjoy is absolutely the most important thing. Whatever happens after that is icing.

    Keep at it. Keep writing.
    Heather M. Gardner

  5. Writing a post such as you did--where the reader can comprehend the message, read through to the end and didn't get bored, and where you brought forth emotion--that is good writing of which to be proud. It is a 100% effort of a completed post. Maybe you feel like you are one percent of where you want to be as a good (published?) writer, but that comes in steps. Today's step in sharing this was indeed something you can say you are good at. You don't have to be at your end goal to say you are a writer. You are a writer 100% of the time that you are working on writing. Period.

  6. Hello from IWSG, I just wrote a long response and my computer ate it. Grrrr.

    I have "Imposter Syndrome" as well. I had my IQ tested as a child and again as an adult and it grosses me out to say this because it sounds like bragging, but I supposedly have a genius IQ. I know that I'm smarter than average but when I hang out with the super smart people, I feel like a moron. A hugely unsuccessful moron. I believe I have been convincing people of my intellect fraudulently for years. Everytime someone tells me how smart I am I think, "If you only knew the truth".

    I loved to read and write, but I hated school because I was bored, so I paid no attention in English class. The basic grammar and punctuation stuff that I should have known, I don't. I'm supposedly "so smart" but I still couldn't tell you what an adverb is. I'm still strugging with how to properly write dialogue tags. So much for my IQ. I think I'm better at pretending to be smart than actually being smart. This has trickled into my writing life of course. Not only did I fall in love with the most maligned and least respected of writing genres (romance) but I started a writing group with three other women who are all vastly better writers than I am. So now whenever I write something I should be proud of, I have this nagging sense of fraud. I feel like any accomplishment I might have, I owe to my writing group.

    So basically, I feel ya.

    1%? I'm really good at Googling. Like maybe even 10% good.

  7. As a behavior scientist (in degree only), this is fascinating and I can relate. I'm getting better though. Thanks for sharing a very personal experience with us. :)

  8. I really enjoyed your post. Keep focusing on doing what makes you happy!


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