What happens when you decide you’re writing a book about the Impostor Complex?


What happens when you decide you’re writing a book about the Impostor Complex?

Well, let’s go back a ways.

What happens when you decide you’re writing a book? Any book?

Your inner critics go ballistic. After raving inarticulately for a manner of time, they start to rhyme off all the reasons you can’t (and probably won’t and definitely shouldn’t) write the book with startling conviction. Like they’ve been waiting their whole existence to filibuster “Project Don’t Write The Book”.

What happens when you decide you’re writing a book about the Impostor Complex?

Well, you’re met with the same (somewhat generic) inner critics to be sure. You can’t. You won’t. You shouldn’t. Blah de blah. But you’ve been doing the work of inner critic management for a while, so you’re able to stand in, “Oh no you don’t. I am totally going to write a book”.

But then it gets even more specific and personal when the second line of offense shows up. These guys have placards directed at you that may not be catchy, but they are clear: “Don’t Write That Book about Overcoming Feeling like a Fraud because you Actually ARE a Fraud, you Fraud.”

Their case is really compelling. You don’t have the clinical background. You don’t have the degrees. You may not even have the writing chops. And while your stories are good, yours is not the really fascinating backstory to end all backstories. You just have this little thing called a burning desire that feels like a second beating heart. (You can’t recall which clever writer, far more clever than you, came up with that metaphor, but you know it feels true. So so true.)

So, you hide out. Behind your vocation. Behind your beloved clients. Behind the other writing and speaking and family and obligations and house maintenance and friends and more family and you feel lucky and privileged and really well graced. And a touch…incomplete. And then decide you should feel guilty about that. Because everything else has been tended to and you still need to hide out some more. And truly, guilt is a fabulous way to kill time. And of course, you have nothing but time, right?

Ba-BUMP.

Ba-BUMP.

Ba-BUMP.

Ba-BUMP.

Ba-BUMP.

Ba-BUMP.

But you’re serious about this. You’ve been talking about it with your small corner of the world because accountability is key. Also key? Doing what you say you’re going to do, so you send your family away for the long weekend, and try to write through pangs of missing them and longing for wide open lakes for stand-up paddle boarding and campfires and s’mores, but you know it’s for the best and it’ll be simple focused because you’ll drink smoothies for breakfast and eat popcorn for dinner and then start to realize within three short hours of your solitude that the infuriating cursor on your screen is not actually blinking, but rather beating.

You can’t.

You won’t.

You shouldn’t.

You can’t.

You won’t.

You shouldn’t.

And it’s like the tell-tale heart beating under the floorboard so maddeningly that you can’t take it any longer and want to shout your confessions to the Fraud Police who will invariably show up at your door. (You of course stop trying to write to go read Poe’s work, because…procrastination. The calling card of the Impostor Complex. Along with leaky boundaries, perfectionism, people pleasing and comparison.)

And then you start to finally see in the fourth hour of staring at the page that your own Impostor Complex is so far up your grill you don’t even know where it ends and your grill begins. (And then you start to wonder what a grill is in any case and so you go off to research that because…procrastination round two.)

At this point, you start to empathize with poor Jack Torrance going nuts up there in the Overlook, only to realize that he’d been writing for months and you’ve only been at your computer for five hours now.

And then you start an email to your writing group who invited you to go into the belly of the beast of your Impostor Complex this weekend to tell them to go to hell, but stop because you love them and know why they have asked you to dig deeper. They want this book in the world. The border guard wants this book in the world. And you want this book in the world. You NEED this book in the world. And besides, you know that email would be round three of procrastination (and you’ve learned better by now) so you simply email them: “Sending you love from the belly of the beast”.

And as you press send on the email you realize, holy shit. You KNOW how to do this thing because you live and breathe the Impostor Complex and know it inside and out and see it’s silly tricks and games and in fact, don’t just know it, but know it better than anyone. And that’s a fact. You are the world-class expert on this very thing, your own Impostor Complex and its funny little quirks and own special brand of beration and you have actually already written the manual on how to overcome it. And that you have plenty more wisdom to share. More than plenty.

So you re-blend the breakfast batch of smoothies that’s been on the counter since this morning and get back to writing, and write and write and write and eventually look up to see it’s been seven hours and you’ve written thousands of words. Good, smart, and true words that tell the stories that need to be told because your secondary heart said so.

And you realize as you shut down the computer and go to fire up the popcorn popper that all along, that blinking cursor’s been saying:

Write on.

Write on.

Write on.

Write on.

Write on.

Write on.

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