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Fake Writer Syndrome


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"Do you want to stop feeling like a fake, like your project will fail, and like you’re not called to be a writer?  Almost every writer (even famous ones!) struggle with a sense of inadequacy. How can you overcome it? Will it be something you face for the rest of your life?"

 

If we're honest, these questions plague us, and they are called "Fake Writer's Syndrome."  They comprise the feeling that nobody will ever read your stuff.  That if you self-publish maybe only a few, or many Facebook friends, will read what you've written, but it will fade away quickly into the hundreds of thousands of manuscripts self-published every year.  And then comes the feeling that you were not really called to be a writer.  How do you overcome this?  How can you overcome this?

 

 

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Looks like a cat seeing a nearby bath, @lynnmosher!

 

Oftentimes, I am discouraged by how few comments/reviews my stories get, even though I know, in my head, that I've wildly diverged off the beaten path and most fanfiction readers prefer stories that stay well within the sandboxes of their fandom.

 

But on the flip side, that means I can treasure the few reviews I get all the more.  And every so often, there's an unexpected response from outside of my usual tiny group of reviewers - and that tends to brighten my whole week.

 

So I think that the way I handle Fake Writer's Syndrome is to treasure what responses I get, enjoy my own writing, and keep marching onto the next story.  Maybe I won't ever hit it big, but I'm happy with what I've got now.

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I'm back to thinking "I'll never be able to do this," again, but that's not the same as that definition of "fake writer." That definition I've never had. My goal has always been for at least one child to enjoy it. That is success for me, and I know if I enjoy the story, I'm not so unique that I'd be the only one to enjoy it. So, tada. By that very definition, I can't be fake.

 

My feeling comes from rarely having a quiet place to think combined with cyclothymia, which tends to make me too rushed or too depressed to think anyway.

 

I can write. I've been doing that for decades. Yet, now I'm having trouble doing the thinking that goes with writing. And that same lack-of-thinking carries over into Bible reading, studying, and prayer. (I still do it all, but at concentration levels of a 5 year old.)

 

But fake? If I was ever fake, I gave that up at rebirth. (I'll tell you who I am, if you want to know it or not. 😆)

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Okay, here's a thought. I used to do this but stopped for whatever reason. Whenever I got a nice comment/review or whatever, I saved them. And when I got discouraged, I would read them. Not everything we write is going to be tops. That's our aim, the tops I mean. But sometimes, words fall flat. It will all get better. 😃

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That is wonderful encouragement, Lynn! Like so many, I often wonder if anyone cares about my writing but deep down, I have had some good comments and those sentiments keep me going. Writing is a challenge but it can be force for goodness and sometimes greatness. I like your last line, Lynn..."words fall flat. It will all get better." 🙂

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3 hours ago, Jeff Potts said:

And people who are persistent will almost always be successful.

 

That's the sentiment, Jeff.  But I wonder if it's true?

 

For example, I know of several writers who tried for 25 years and finally gave up in frustration because no seemed to notice them.  I wonder if at some time, someone could have counselled them that it was time to give up and move on.  But they would always wonder, then, if they had just kept at it, could they have been successful

 

I wonder, too, how much of a writer's ego is wrapped up in this process?

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6 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

That if you self-publish maybe only a few, or many Facebook friends, will read what you've written, but it will fade away quickly into the hundreds of thousands of manuscripts self-published every year.

 

If we're totally honest with ourselves (as self-published authors), this scenario is likely. Statistically, most self published authors won't sell more than 100 books. 

 

6 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

And then comes the feeling that you were not really called to be a writer. 

 

Yes, this is something we all struggle with to varying degrees. However, I've learned that if your expectations of success are properly aligned with reality, then you won't be dealing with that crushing blow when sales fall within statistical norms. 

 

6 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

How can you overcome this?

 

I wish I had an easy answer. It probably depends a lot on the individual writer - their motivation for writing and exceptions for success. 

 

I can only share the following things that I've learned in my self-publishing journey (so far):

 

1. Pray. Dedicate your talent and efforts to God.

 

2. Always strive for excellence. Go the extra mile. Maybe it won't amount to much, but it will put you in a better position to exceed the statistical norms. What do most self-published works that sell less than 100 copies have in common? Their authors don't put as much effort into them. Those books are often not edited very well, or have poor covers, are poorly formatted, not correctly priced to market, incorrectly categorized, and have no real marketing plan. These authors thought they could pump out a story, toss it out into the marketplace, and sit back to count their sales. They didn't put in the time and effort to study publishing and marketing strategies.

 

3. Keep your expectations in line. Even though you went the extra mile, it's no guarantee your book will exceed the sales norm. On the other hand, it's often the books you think won't go very far that end up exceeding expectations. It's impossible to know what's going to happen. In fact, books can languish in obscurity for years and then suddenly take off. It could be something you did, or merely a reader who liked your book and gave it good word of mouth.

 

4. Keep producing quality work. The more books you have on the market, the greater the chance a reader will discover you. And if they like what you wrote, chances are they will purchase your other books and spread recommendations to their friends. Your fan base is built one reader at a time.

 

Well, that's all I got.

        

 

 

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8 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

And then comes the feeling that you were not really called to be a writer. 


I wrestled with Imposter Syndrome for years in my career as a Technical Writer. Literally everyone I know went to college to be a Technical Writer, or took some Technical Writing schooling as they graduated college. I just happened to have a knack for this career and got my start when I was fired as a desk clerk in 1999 because I wasn't pretty enough to work at the Front Desk and didn't have any Accounts Payable training (fair play). I fabricated a resume', threw 'Technical Writer' at the top, and got a ping. I got my foot in the door in the last month of 1999, and have been doing this gig for 22 years.

I've never had Imposter Syndrome as a fiction author. I can tell stories. Whether those stories can rise above the noise and stand out is another question, but I have no doubts that I can write. Whether I can write well is ongoing, but I'm working on it (and I really mean that).

(As a side-note, I don't think I was called to be a writer. I think I was gifted to be a writer, which is a slight but crucial difference. I have a talent for writing, which I buttress with practice and determination.)

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7 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

 

That's the sentiment, Jeff.  But I wonder if it's true?

 

For example, I know of several writers who tried for 25 years and finally gave up in frustration because no seemed to notice them.  I wonder if at some time, someone could have counselled them that it was time to give up and move on.  But they would always wonder, then, if they had just kept at it, could they have been successful

 

I wonder, too, how much of a writer's ego is wrapped up in this process?

 

I've rewritten a response to this probably five times.

 

The rock group Rush was basically three VERY talented nerds.  While other bands of their time were writing love songs, songs about sex and drugs, Rush was writing complex songs.  The song 2112 was influenced by the writing of Ayn Rand.  The song YYZ was inspired by the signal that identified the Toronto International Airport.  Hemispheres was based off of Greek philosophy.  These guys not only had talent, but they blazed their own trail.  The band lasted over 40 years, and had a global fanbase that verged on fanatical.

 

If you ever listen to these guys talk, there is virtually no ego among them (which is, perhaps, why the band remained intact all those years).  They all have massive amounts of talent, and push themselves all the time.  In fact, the 2112 album was their make-or-break moment, and when faced with the band dissolving if the album was a failure, they stuck to their guns.  The rest is history.

 

In the end, they were true to themselves.

 

There are probably four or five reasons why the people you reference didn't thrive.  Maybe some of them had an ego.  Maybe some of them didn't push themselves like they should have.  Maybe some of them didn't think they needed to improve or hone their skills.  Maybe some of them developed an ego, expecting success to happen without a lot of effort.  I really don't know.

 

However, doing what you want to do, and what you love isn't ego.  And in the end, it'll pay off.

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7 minutes ago, Jeff Potts said:

In fact, the 2112 album was their make-or-break moment, and when faced with the band dissolving if the album was a failure, they stuck to their guns.  The rest is history.


Dream Theater had a similar make-or-break moment with their seminal album SCENES FROM A MEMORY, where after the failure of FALLING INTO INFINITY, record execs were pushing for more radio-friendly prog ala IMAGES AND WORDS. Instead, Portnoy and Petrucci had a gut-check moment and, spurred by their recent session work with keyboardist Jordan Ruddess, went into the studio and recorded the concept album they wanted to make, forever changing their fortune and charting a new, bolder direction for the band.

 

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I do worry if it is good enough, if I am good enough, but then I just think that is the enemy trying to distract me and stop me from doing what God wants me to do because if I wasn't meant to be doing this I think it would be much more difficult and pretty plain to see.

 

To be honest, I have no idea if I will be successful, I know from the chapters I have written even with them still in their draft stage, the people who have read them (and these are not close friends of mine) have thought them really good. For me writing this book came out of nowhere, the story started in my head one night and I just had to start writing it down or I couldn't get to sleep, but even though I always enjoyed writing, I had never planned or even thought about writing a book. 

 

So if this is what God wants me to do, then I believe that He will use it as He sees fit. If it only touches 1 life and that person is impacted in a positive way, what value can I put on that. Once I have finished the editing process sometime in the near future and hopefully get published, then I will leave it in God's hands and hope that it reaches those people that God thinks it will benefit most.

 

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10 hours ago, Jeff Potts said:

The rock group Rush was basically three VERY talented nerds.

 

I'm sorry to say, Jeff, but I've never heard of them!😀  I don't listen to much music, I'm afraid.  I've got a blind spot in that regard.  Songs just don't affect me very much.

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3 hours ago, Amosathar said:

So if this is what God wants me to do, then I believe that He will use it as He sees fit.


There has never been a time in the history of Mankind where storytelling and storytellers is more important. I was talking with Linda last night. The Narrative people ingest affects their thinking. Marketing is built on this premise. The World promotes a false narrative about the nature of life and it affects the choices people make, which affects their lives, their families, and their destiny. 

There has never been a greater need for great storytelling, and learning the art and craft of writing is one of the greatest ways to learn how to be good, effective storytellers. 

If the Bible tells us the truth about life, the universe, and everything (obligatory nod to Douglas Adams), the world needs clear-headed storytelling from a Christian worldview, and now more than ever. 

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(This is a tangent, but RUSH doesn't just write songs, they make music–long, intricate, Progressive Rock with spectacular musicianship. This is a ten minute instrumental featuring one of the world's great guitarists, one of the greatest bass players of all time, and arguably the all-time greatest Rock drummer, the late, great Neal Peart. Peart was the band's lyricist and had a doctorate in drumming. I love introducing new listeners to RUSH for their storytelling, musicianship, and affection for each other.)

 

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58 minutes ago, Johne said:

This is a ten minute instrumental featuring one of the world's great guitarists, one of the greatest bass players of all time, and arguably the all-time greatest Rock drummer, the late, great Neal Peart. Peart was the band's lyricist and had a doctorate in drumming.

 

I appreciate the video, and I just played it, and, well, it does absolutely nothing for me.  I have come to the conclusion that I am just tone deaf when it comes to music.😀

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On 11/17/2021 at 2:20 PM, suspensewriter said:

For example, I know of several writers who tried for 25 years and finally gave up in frustration because no seemed to notice them.  I wonder if at some time, someone could have counselled them that it was time to give up and move on.  But they would always wonder, then, if they had just kept at it, could they have been successful

Who says they didn't succeed with what God gave them?

 

2 Cor. 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

 

(Friends of ours -- missionaries in this city -- lost their 18 month old son to SID on Good Friday decades ago. This was his whole message at his son's funeral. First time I grasped what those words are saying.)

 

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