The biggest challenge I’ve had as a writer — and the one I hear often from my clients — is the thought “I’m no expert, who would listen to me?” That thought never ceases to freeze my writing. This kind of thinking is so common, it has a name: Imposter Syndrome. And it prevents people in all disciplines from reaching their highest potential.
And I see it in writers all the time.
Imposter Syndrome stopped me from writing about my experiences in the Middle East, which included reporting from war-torn Iraq and working with refugees. I was in Iraq in the first weeks after the US-led invasion and I reported live via sat phone to mainstream radio and TV news programs in Los Angeles.
Accomplished, right? But, “you’re no Middle Eastern expert,” my brain said. “Who’ll listen to you?”
“You’re not a real reporter,” my brain continued. “Who’ll listen to you?”
Every time my brain piped up, I tried to shut it down, but it just wouldn’t shut up! I not only felt like an imposter, but a failure, too. Brains generate 4,000 words/minute, and I just couldn’t keep up.
Finally, I decided to invite my brain to a conversation. I shut my eyes, got quiet and imagined my know-it-all brain sitting with me at a table, sipping tea (my brain is a closet Brit).
“You know,” I said to my brain. “You’re right: I’m not an expert or a reporter, and your advice that I shouldn’t try to come off as one is spot on.” I could see my brain puffing up with importance. My brain loves to be right.
I continued, “There are a lot of experts and reporters out there. But, there’s only one Kelly Hayes-Raitt. Only one. And she’s the only person who can tell what she experienced. That’s what readers want.”
This gave my brain pause.
“I need your help,” I leaned in. “You are so smart, and I need you to help me remember that I am unique and what I have to offer is important.” (My brain loves flattery.)
With that, my brain sat back and nodded.
OK, I know this sounds weird! I’m not suggesting you become a split personality. But “dialoguing” with aspects of our mind has proven to be an effective tool to help “rewire” our thoughts. In her TED Talk about overcoming Imposter Syndrome, Dr. Valerie Young makes it simple:
“The only way to stop feeling like an Imposter is to stop thinking like an Imposter.”
Read more of her tips here: https://impostorsyndrome.com/10-steps-overcome-impostor/
Do you ever feel no one would listen to you? Share your thoughts.
Kelly Hayes-Raitt admits she sleeps around. Usually with animals.
More on that in a moment…
Her passion is helping writers get their books jumpstarted. Her coaching clients call her “inspiring,” and students in her workshops rave about her unique teaching techniques. Learn more about working one-on-one with Kelly at www.JumpStartMyBook.org.
Or join her in Cape Town, South Africa, February 1 – 10, 2020, for a magical writing retreat to jumpstart your book! www.JumpStartMybook.org/writers-retreat/
OK, the sleeping around thing? She’s a full-time housesitter and has been traveling the world for the past decade. She’s learned a thing or two about housesitting and shares her knowledge and experience in her popular book How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva available in soft cover or Kindle at Amazon or ebook on her web site www.HouseSitDiva.com.
Before nomading, Kelly reported live from Iraq during the early weeks of the U.S.-led invasion. Her journalism has won several literary awards and has been widely published in anthologies. The girl’s got stories.