The Ways We Fraud Ourselves (Especially Writers?!)

By guest blogger Sandra Williams

After reading Do You Suffer from Impostor Syndrome? on my friend Julia Munroe Martin’s writing blog, wordsxo, I decided to pull this post out of the archives from 2008. Because whenever we’re feeling this way, we’re apt to believe that we’re the only one. — Milli

I’VE FOUND THAT whatever I designate as my make-a-living occupation automatically becomes my paralysis factor. I procrastinate, worry about it, feel inadequate doing it and in general sabotage myself on it. I lock myself down and freeze up in that area. No wonder my hips and legs locked up so I couldn’t move! The body takes things so literally! I always feel like I’m on probation with my every output scrutinized by a crabby overseer who doesn’t like me.

I can find a million and one ways to distract myself. I enjoy working around the house and in the garden. If I decided landscape designer or a home stager or interior design was my designated make-a-living work, I’d stop doing it. Argh!

I’m slowly learning to stop demanding absolute perfection of myself before I can do something. (How can we learn if we don’t make our mistakes and grow into proficiency? Tell my subconscious that. It thinks that wisdom applies to others only.) The myth that writers or artists are born, not educated into the field is one that I bought into long, long ago. I took a correspondence writing course in my early 20s. One of the founders on the board of the school was quoted as saying “Writers are born not made. Either you’ve got it or you don’t. No one can teach it to you.”

I was furious. I felt frauded and wrote a nasty letter to the school about her comment and quit. In truth, I was afraid she was right and I was wasting our money trying to learn something that couldn’t be taught. The school never replied. I ignored my real life, in-front-of-me teachers in high school and college who praised my writing and called me talented. What did they know?

The ways we fraud ourselves!

It is good to share the shameful secrets of our vast fears of inadequacies. Shared, outed shames aren’t nearly as powerful as secret ones.

—Sandra Williams

Sandra Williams

Sandra Moore Williams

SANDRA MOORE WILLIAMS is a popular face reader and the author of Faces: What You See is What You Get. She’s my friend and my “favorite mother-in-law.” Sandra is currently writing a novel; she’s also an illustrator, painter, book designer, astrologist and she cranks out a mean cranberry salad. (Whew! Talented lady.) She is the author of an e-book created at my special request, entitled Face Reading for Writers, which is an enrollment gift for students of the Fear of Writing Online Course.

6 Responses to The Ways We Fraud Ourselves (Especially Writers?!)
  1. Lisa H
    August 30, 2011 | 9:02 AM

    Oh this post is spot-on! It’s like you write straight out of my soul 😀 Here I thought I was alone with this insane self-sabotage that no one could explain…
    I dreamed of being a writer for over a decade, ever since I read my first book. But when it comes to doing what writers do – write – I freeze up like a deer caught in the headlights. I just can’t get a word out and up until now I had no idea why. Your post was an eye-opener, thank you!

  2. Lois
    August 30, 2011 | 12:25 PM

    I’ve heard that expression before, but I’m one of the lucky ones who never believed it. Still, I struggle with another method of self-sabotage. I don’t edit. Time to get off my butt and start, huh? Who cares if I feel inadequate? Do it anyway! 😀


  3. Tricia
    Twitter: Tricia_Sutton
    August 30, 2011 | 12:28 PM

    This reminds me of whatever it is I write on my to-do list, I’ll do everything but. I rebel against myself. Today I’m going to write everything but writing and that is what I’ll end up doing.

    See if it’s not on the list, then it’s extra credit, something I don’t have to overthink or perfect.

    P.S. Sandra, your book sounds interesting as most people read my face entirely wrong. I’ll be as chirpy as the bluebird of happiness and someone will ask me “what’s wrong?” or “cheer up”. A curse my whole life.

  4. Julia
    Twitter: wordsxo
    August 30, 2011 | 12:38 PM

    Milli! First of all, thank you so much for the shout out! Second, I absolutely LOVE this post! Thirdly, have you seen my blog post TODAY??? What a coincidence that you would choose today to re-post Sandra’s blog post. Yes, now I’m not just FEELING like a fraud, I’m writing (or I should say *not* writing) like one, too. I love this post!

  5. Al McCartan
    August 30, 2011 | 4:14 PM

    You ARE a writer, make no mistake about it. The male lead character in the great movie, 27 Dresses, told Katherine Heigel’s character: “I’m a writer.” In truth he was a columnist. ” I didn’t say what I wrote,” he addded later.

    I am no longer fooling myself. I write and am proud of it. So proud, in fact I put for my occupation Writer/Broadcaster – even though my behind mic sessions have dwindled somewhat.

  6. j
    August 31, 2011 | 8:46 PM

    I recently read a post by a writer who had managed to schedule himself an entire day to write. (Really, when was the last time any of us did that?) Of course the day came, and he couldn’t think of a thing. He went for a walk and made up a new kind of sandwich.

    Love this post. Now I have to go see what Julia wrote today.

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