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Imposter Syndrome, Be Gone!

Essay 2 | Writing & Self-Empowerment Series

By Cendrine MarrouatPublished 7 months ago 5 min read
Image credit: Mohamed Hassan via Pixabay (https://pixabay.com/illustrations/cant-can-self-motivation-4505837)

A few days ago, I caught a provocative debate on X (formerly known as Twitter). The initial question and my answer are included below.

My comment is, of course, a little harsh. But I did not see another way of addressing the topic, especially after reading what a few authors themselves had to say.

I wanted to continue the debate, but on a platform where I knew people would engage constructively, whether they agreed with me or not. Threads turned out to be that place.

Here is what I wrote:

Authors, and all artists in general, deserve to be paid for their hard work. The annoying and long-standing rhetoric that we should be ashamed of ourselves for wanting to make a living is ridiculous and divisive at best. This needs to stop!

Bodies need more than water and air to grow. Bills can't be paid with Monopoly money.

Glendalynn Dixon’s response struck me as particularly relevant:

The same mindset, that creatives are only pursuing their passion - not actually working, leads to undervaluing the act of creation. It is why people choose AI over paying someone to draw, paint, write, film, design etc.

Being creative is a career path. As with other careers, it requires talent, discipline and getting paid.

Her argument opens up the conversation by speaking to an important truth: Lack of self-confidence is instilled in artists.

While thinking of my response to the excellent first essay Mackenzie Davis published for our Writing & Self-Empowerment Series, I decided to look into the definition of “Imposter Syndrome”.

According to Wikipedia, the term was coined in 1978 after research initially conducted among high-achieving women. It is a “psychological occurrence in which people doubt their skills, talents, or accomplishments and have a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as frauds.” It does not matter what others tell them, victims of Imposter Syndrome do not believe that they are intelligent enough or deserve success.

No one was born with Imposter Syndrome. We become an embodiment of it because we are sponges to our culture and products of our circumstances.

The outside world imposes self-doubts and fear on us. From an early age, we are bombarded with conflicting images and messages about many things, especially those that threaten the status quo. Art opens minds and creates conversations, and that is exactly why it is so dangerous and must be kept under constant supervision.

Authors are mostly depicted as struggling and tortured souls. They are revered when they have made it big in the mainstream but barely acknowledged if they choose the independent path. The encouraging and spreading of false narratives like “traditional publishing is better than indie publishing,” “follower count and likes matter,” “real authors are best sellers,” or “there is no money in writing,” create endless public conversations between authors.

On social networks, those conversations are dominated by people with very limited experience or close-minded opinions, who constantly try to silence those who have more nuanced and constructive things to say. Over time, as an increasing number of the latter group leaves those conversations for sanity’s sake, misinformation is allowed to thrive, remove context, replace common sense, and open the door to passive-aggressiveness…

Imposter Syndrome is learnt and internalized behavior. And when something is internalized, it seeps through our thoughts and influences everything we do: the words we say and type, our responses to challenges and disagreements, and our overall view of ourselves.

I see Imposter Syndrome in my fellow authors all over social networks. In sentences as simple as “I don’t want to see reviews of my work, that’s not why I write books. I write for me, not for others.” In the way that they deal with compliments, take differing views as personal attacks, wave their insecurities as shields, or use self-deprecatory terms when they talk about themselves. And in their attempts at policing readers’ and other authors’ behaviors.

To me, Imposter Syndrome is like a troll. Once it has your attention, it will try to wreak havoc on your mind for as long as possible—and as long as you will allow it to:

  • “The idea may be nice, but you can’t write jack. You will fail.”
  • “Why are you even trying? So many people are better than you! You will fail.”
  • “You only wrote 500 words today, what a loser!”
  • “Your query got rejected? You deserve it. Don’t even try again.”

I will not pretend that I have a solution for that particular problem. But from experience, I can tell you this: The brain is an incredible organ. You can train it to believe in and achieve anything you want. That includes denying your abilities and sabotaging your chances of success.

The contrary is just as true.

You have it in you to become a phenomenal writer and author. But you have to believe it. Nobody else can do that for you.

Acknowledging your self-worth is uncomfortable, of course, because it means telling your fear to take a hike and going against what society and your inner voice have been telling you for decades.

Things will not change overnight. At first, you will have very bad days. You will encounter people, including friends and family members, who will do their utmost to talk you into returning to your old ways.

However you will also have magical days. Days when everything seems possible, when you love and feel proud of each word you write, when haters make you giggle. Take notes.

Take notes, so you can understand what happened and how you can ensure that those magical days occur again and regularly. And then, they will come to you without effort.

If you want to write, write. If you want to write for fun, so be it. But there is absolutely no shame in wanting to be a paid writer. You know what, actually? You can do both.

(Never let anyone convince you otherwise.)

No matter what you do, though, avoid settling for half-finished jobs. Always do your absolute best. And then watch Imposter Syndrome and insecure people melt in the distance.

Now, go follow your bliss! 😃


This essay is my answer to Mackenzie Davis’s post on Imposter Syndrome, which is part of our collaborative series on writing and self-empowerment. For more information about it, click below.

That's it for today! Thank you for reading.


Cendrine Marrouat is a writer, photographer, podcaster, blogger, anthology editor, and the co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms and A Warm Cup of Cozy. She has authored and co-authored more than 40 books, including The Train: A Short Story (2023), In Her Own Words: A Collection of Short Stories & Flashku (2022), After the Fires of Day: Haiku Inspired by Kahlil Gibran & Alphonse de Lamartine (2021), Rhythm Flourishing: A Collection of Kindku and Sixku (2020), Walks: A Collection of Haiku (2019-2020), and In the Silence of Words: A Three-Act Play (2018).

Cendrine's work has appeared in many publications. She is the creator of the Sixku, Flashku, Sepigram, and Reminigram; as well as the co-creator of the Kindku, Pareiku, Vardhaku, and Hemingku.


About the Creator

Cendrine Marrouat

Writer & Author⎜Photographer⎜Artist⎜Co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms / A Warm Mug of Cozy⎜(Co-)creator of literary forms

"The Train: A Short Story" is out!

Website: https://creativeramblings.com

Donations: https://ko-fi.com/cendrineartist

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Comments (9)

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  • ThatWriterWoman7 months ago

    I feel that money is a means by which I can write more. If I can write more, I may be in with a chance of changing some lives - and that would be wonderful! Love this!

  • Natalie Wilkinson7 months ago

    Thanks for writing this Cendrine! I wish Vocal had a place to hoard the stories that make you feel inspired, because this one would be in it. I would read it every time I get discouraged.

  • The Dani Writer7 months ago

    I read this not realizing I wasn't signed in, but it was riveting! Excellent content! You are to be commended.

  • My writing is a hobby so am I a threat to real authors? I think not. I generate AI art but could not afford to pay artists to illustrate my Vocal stories. If I didn't use AI art then it would have to be something free. I see it in music , play for free you will get the exposure. Work should be paid at an appropriate for the professionals. If you are writing for a living then you need to be appropriately compensated. Sorry I have rambled, your article is excellent.

  • Mackenzie Davis7 months ago

    Awesome, Cendrine! I'm loving this series, and am super excited to read what other people think about this one. Your answer to what we should do about imposter syndrome is fantastic: train your brain by noting when your confidence is up, and try to replicate it more frequently. Perfect. I think it's great that you say that you can write both for a hobby (for yourself) and for money (as a career). More people need to hear that it's perfectly acceptable to pursue artistic endeavors professionally. Just because you want to earn an income off a passion doesn't mean it's any less of a career compared to intense, maybe less enjoyable, careers. Why should "work" mean "misery?" Why should careers require hobbies on the side to keep the spirits up? Why can a hobby become a career? It definitely comes down to culture and societal perception. I wonder if things are starting to change more rapidly these days with the ability to make money off of "influencing" on SM, or if that might be cheapening true artistic skill and values....Hmmm. That might be an interesting to think about next...

  • Babs Iverson7 months ago

    This needed to be said!!! Bravo!!! Agree, your brain/mind believes everything you tell it. Go and grow with the positive!!! Cendrine, love your article!!!💕♥️♥️

  • Hannah Moore7 months ago

    I think some of those narratives around creative work not being "proper" work is actually born of jealousy. Probably 80% of the population would like to earn a living doing something they enjoy, often something creative, and it is protective to believe that that is not valid, because if its valid, why is it her, not me?

  • Dana Crandell7 months ago

    A very helpful essay, Cendrine. Thanks!

  • Lamar Wiggins7 months ago

    This was positive in many ways. I think a lot of us experience I.S. when we first get started as a writer and have no feedback to draw upon. You can't be your only critic, no way to grow from that. I've received both positive and constructive feedback on vocal and maybe one destructive comment that messed with my head for a few days. Moral of the story, not everyone will like our work, it's not so easy to accept but it's reality. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, examples and debatable content, Cendrine. I appreciate it.

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