This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
by Anna Bell
When I was a museum curator I always felt like a fraud; that somehow I couldn’t believe I’d ended up with my job and one day someone would find out that I wasn’t supposed to be there. It’s exactly how I feel about being an author too. I keep thinking one day someone will tell me that I’m delusional for thinking that I could be a writer and they’ll tell me to leave it to the professionals. Will I ever not feel like a fraud?
After graduating from university I started work at a small museum. I decided to do a well-respected distance learning masters in Museum Studies, so that I could continue working. With four years work experience and a masters behind me, I landed a dream job as a curator looking after an artefact collection. Despite having the qualifications, the work experience and the knowledge, I always felt out of my depth. Like I didn’t know what I was doing and that one day someone would find me out. It was ridiculous, as I even obtained my associateship of the Museums Association whilst working there – I knew my stuff. Looking back I can see it was a job that required a huge amount of knowledge and I was far too hard on myself to think that I should know all of it from the get-go.When I first started writing I had none of that experience or knowledge of the industry behind me. I had no formal qualifications in writing. I hadn’t taken English Literature at A-Level. I didn’t belong to a writer’s group. I didn’t enrol on any creative writing courses. I simply started writing and I guess I thought that the publishing industry would tell me if I was meant to be there or not. Only I seemed to take a shortcut by self-publishing, which meant I went straight to the readers. My books did really well, but I didn’t have the validation from the industry. I didn’t feel like I could call myself an author and, of course, I felt like a massive fraud. It wasn’t until I was published in paperback and saw my book at the airport and on the shelves in the supermarket that I started to feel like I’d made it.
Yet, every so often that feeling of being a fraud comes back. Sometimes when I read a really good book, or when I read the acknowledgements at the back and realise how much research someone else has done for a novel, it hits me. It undermines my confidence and makes me feel I should give up on my day job.
I recently discovered that I’m not alone in feeling like this. Apparently there’s a thing called Impostor Syndrome and lots of highly successful people suffer from it. It’s all about thinking that you don’t deserve to be where you are. I think part of it, for me, is how quickly I’d achieved what I did. I started writing in 2009 and I was first published in paperback in 2013. I know how hard I worked to get there; I know it wasn’t all luck. But I can’t help feeling like someone is going to turn around and tell me I shouldn’t be a writer.
Don’t get me wrong, I really do appreciate and enjoy the successes that I accomplish. It’s just that tiny little niggle at the back of my mind that rears its ugly head occasionally – usually when I’m writing a first draft. Do any other authors feel like a fraud?