Impostor’s syndrome, creating, and sharing

I am preparing to share some training events later in the winter, and I wanted to know: what questions do you have around author platform, marketing, book launches, and the creative process? Reply to this email and let me know. This will shape what I create in the trainings, which will be free.

Something that comes up frequently when I speak to writers is impostor’s syndrome. This feeling that their success isn’t deserved. Or that what they are working on isn’t good enough. Or they are overstepping a boundary in how they share their work. Over the years, I have found this is common. And what’s more: it doesn’t go away with success. In fact, it can become amplified.

On social media the other day I saw a very successful writer share this:

“January is a hard month for me… I’m fairly certain my book is terrible, my friends are only pretending to like me, and my career is circling the drain. So if you feel that way too, you’re not alone.”

When I went to find that status update, it had been deleted, so I don’t want to name the author since I assume they thought twice about having this out there. But it’s worth noting how successful they are: a New York Times bestselling author of dozens of books books, in a range of different genres and publishers. They have tens of thousands of followers, and often share inspiring advice that people love.

Yet, that status update… that feeling.

So much of the work I do with writers is within this context:

  • When someone is writing their author bio for the first time, it can feel impossible to characterize your entire life, your entire creative vision in a brief space.
  • When creating a content strategy for what they will share on social media, they can worry that the marketplace is already too crowded, why add their voice to the mix?
  • When preparing to launch a newsletter or podcast, they can feel that perhaps they aren’t quite ready. That they need a better microphone, or should pause and take a class on interviewing first.
  • When launching a website, they may feel that it is too soon. That by having a website, they are asking for too much attention.
  • They worry that if the commit to sharing online that they will run out of things to say.
  • When emailing other authors, they may fear that even a generous note is somehow too self-serving.
  • They may resist sharing or reaching out to anyone, for fear that they are bugging them.

These reasons (and others) are why we hesitate to share. For fear that if we are seen trying to succeed, that the universe will somehow make us fail for our hubris.

Creating and sharing is difficult work because it connects so much to who we are, how we define our creative vision, and how we connect with others. These feelings can be infused in every stage of the process of what it means to write, to develop your platform, and to share and market your books.

Knowing that is critical, because I think it can do the most damage when it surprises you. When you feel “wow, where did that come from? Must be serious if I’m feeling it. I’d better NOT share now. I’ll just wait. And wait. And wait. Maybe someone else can share for me…”

Because that is the real danger. Waiting and waiting and waiting to feel you have permission to create. Permission to share. Permission to connect with other like-minded creators and readers. The waiting can silence not only your own creative vision, but your own ability to truly inspire someone with your work at a moment they need it most.

What is the solution to impostor’s syndrome, or a natural feelings of anxiety about creating and sharing? Well, let me share an example from author-illustrator Lori Richmond.

She and I were talking the other day, and she had just sent out her email newsletter. I congratulated her on this, and she said, “I woke up yesterday and said to myself, ‘today I’m making a newsletter, and it will be mailed tomorrow no matter what.”

It’s worth noting that Lori has a couple very stressful things going on in her life right now. Thankfully, they are positive things, but they are eating up a ton of her time and energy. Yet, amidst that, and amidst her otherwise busy daily life, she created and sent the newsletter.

Let’s analyze it. Why? Because it embodies how consistent creative actions lead to powerful results. Her newsletter had 5 sections. Here is a miniaturized version of it just so you get a sense of it visually:


This is how Lori breaks out the five sections:

  1. Book Celebration: She has a new book out, so she celebrated that first. It’s worth noting that (of course), most of her newsletters are sent out when she doesn’t have a big milestone like this to celebrate.
  2. A Video Tutorial: She has weekly series on Instagram called “Doodle Class” where she teaches kids how to draw. She shared the video from the previous week.
  3. Featuring Her Corporate Workshops: Here she talks about the workshops she does for corporations, and encourages her readers to hire her if their company’s needs align.
  4. Sharing Recent Illustrations: At the start of the year, she decided to draw a self-portrait every day of the year and share them on Instagram. Here she shares all of her self-portraits from January.
  5. Seeking New Work: She pitches her services in illustration, marketing, branding, small business websites, and more. She also asks her subscribers to share her work.

What I see here is someone who is creating all the time, continually putting her work out there, being clear about the work she would like to do more of, and how that may align to the interests of her readers.

You can see the entire newsletter here. Oh, and be sure to subscribe to Lori’s newsletter so you received future issues!

If you ever suffer from impostor’s syndrome or have anxiety about how you develop your platform as an author, here is some advice:

  • Realize this is normal. We all feel this at some point. Or even frequently. Success doesn’t make it magically go away.
  • Creating and sharing is a wonderful way to battle anxiety over creating and sharing. I know, that sounds strange. But find a way to do it in a small and simple way that feels authentic. When Lori shares a self-portrait, it is a small illustration she does. But when you zoom out and look at a month’s worth, you can see the amazing body of work more clearly. Every creative act builds upon the next.
  • Talk to other creators. Reach out to other writers and people who take the risk to create something new. Talk about the creative process and how they manage their own anxiety about creating and sharing. Don’t go it alone.

I work with writers everyday on book launches, platform building, and integrating creativity and sharing into their daily lives. If this work seems difficult to you, that is because it is. Because it asks you to stand up for who you are. For the vision of what you want to create. And to connect it with the lives of others.

That isn’t easy, but it is worthwhile.

I started this note by asking you to send me your questions about author platform, marketing, book launches, and the creative process. Please hit “reply” and let me know.