My Writing Journey

Do you have imposter syndrome, too?

writing and imposter syndrome

Did you see the Cilla Black biopic with Sheridan Smith?

This scene, where Sheridan sings as Cilla, where she says, quite disbelievingly, “it’s gone to number one,” is so powerful and emotional it brings me to tears every time. And oh! The beautiful emotion on her face as she sings. Goodness me. My eyes fill. With good tears, that is. Happy tears.

Yet Sheridan has said about her performances that,  “I always feel like a bit of a fraud, but so far I’ve not been found out.”

My writing journey has been long and it has only recently started to take off. Reason being? I was scared. Oh, I’m not that good, I’d think to myself. Other people are better than me. 

My husband would get so frustrated. “You’re so much better than you think you are,” he’d say.

But of course he’d say that, I’d counter in my head. He’s my husband.

I don’t have formal training as a writer. I did Business Studies at university. I still get confused between a noun, verb, adjective and other words that start making me sweat like I’m about to take an exam.

I felt, because writing wasn’t something I wanted to do since I was knee-high, because I didn’t have a burning ambition to write throughout my teens, that it isn’t something I should be doing now.

I am a fraud. One day someone will find me out.

Yet I can’t stop myself.

I keep going.

Trying not to feel that at any moment someone with laugh and point and say, “who the hell does she think she is, calling herself a writer?”

Even now, someone will tell me that they love my writing. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. I smile. And I try and ignore the voice that says, “Really? You? A writer?”

Do you suffer from imposter syndrome? Do you feel that one day you’re going to be ‘found out’? Or, as Sheridan says, “‘I don’t think I deserve to be here. I’m just a complete scrubber from Donny Doncaster. I’m just blagging it.’” 

Jen Carrington has helped me enormously through her coaching. With her help I have honed what I want to write about and have just embarked on a new writing project. Listen to her podcast on imposter syndrome. It’s only eight minutes long but incredibly helpful.

As Jen says, “too often we give the noise of others too much power in our lives and decisions we make.” I so agree. I also think it is often our ‘imagined’ noise of others, too. What will X think if I write this? Or Y think if I write that?

I don’t think these voices or feelings will ever fully go away. It is a side effect of being creative; of having that vulnerability about us that makes us better writers.

But every now and then we should remind ourselves: the only person we need to impress is our own self.

do you have imposter syndrome, too


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  • Reply Emily

    Hey Helen, just read your article and I really connected with it, I have always written, ever since I was young, I feel its like breathing to me, I understand myself better, I communicate better. I wish I could start a career through writing, maybe something like this blog I feel very inspired by your page and at ease that other people are doing it so why can’t i? I don’t have any english qualifications and I’m still very young (22) so I know i have a long way to go but your post helped me see other people feel the same way too :-) You are an inspiring WRITER! I hope I am where you are someday x

    9th August 2016 at 11:12 am
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Hi Emily. Thank you so much for your comment. I am so touched you think I’m an inspiring writer. I’ve been keeping a blog now for ten years. It has helped me enormously in my path to become a writer, or a better writer. And yes, it helps to understand myself better and the world I live in better. I really do recommend it. You don’t even have to make it public – but I think the beauty of blogs is you can meet like-minded people online who support and encourage. If you need any help getting started please give me a shout.

      17th August 2016 at 4:38 pm
  • Reply Sarah @ Say Little Hen

    Very well said Helen. I’ve only recently heard of this, but I can relate to it with many things. Including my writing, but also with my knitting patterns. I was redoing my about page the other day, and I had to force myself to put on there “Knitting pattern designer”…..I felt like I was lying, simply because I don’t have 50+ designs of cabled jumpers for women, or something similar. But I said to myself – “you have knitting patterns for sale – you designed them – therefore you *are* a knitting pattern designer”. Still makes me cringe, though.

    Isn’t it strange!

    Keep up your wonderful writing, I love it!
    Sarah x

    12th August 2016 at 7:16 am
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Aw, thank you Sarah. It is very strange. I find your work wonderfully creative and have been inspired by you so much – so no more cringing! 😉

      17th August 2016 at 4:35 pm
  • Reply katie

    A brilliant, thought-provoking post Helen, thank you for sharing – always reassuring to know that others have similar thoughts to you!

    14th August 2016 at 8:20 am
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Thanks, Katie. Yes, I think so many of us feel exactly the same. Yet we all think everyone else is confident and secure in their creativity.

      17th August 2016 at 4:31 pm
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Yes, so many of us feel the same, Katie. Yet think everyone else is confident and secure in their creativity.

      17th August 2016 at 4:32 pm
  • Reply Sara Ward

    Fab post, with a reminder to watch Cilla again!

    15th August 2016 at 8:06 am
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Thank you. Yes, I loved Cilla, too.

      17th August 2016 at 4:29 pm
  • Reply Catherine Binnie

    Great piece, and thanks so much for sharing Jen Carrington’s podcast – both left me feeling reassured that others doubt their creative journeys / capabilities and inspired to just crack on!

    16th August 2016 at 4:39 pm
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Excellent! So pleased you found it helpful. Jen Carrington has made a big impact on me. 😀

      17th August 2016 at 4:29 pm
  • Reply New dawn, new day – cloudbusting

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