Just went to a meeting of the New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America, which spans Maine to Connecticut, which was a very good time. Romance writers, contrary to popular belief, are among the most professional and productive writers I know. I'll never forget the time Toni and I went to the Romantic Times conference (she was nominated for an award), and someone asked Toni "how many books do you write a year?" "Um...one? Mostly?" There are people writing four romance books a year or more regularly. This is impressive! (They also dress better than other genre writers for some odd reason...)
Anyway, I wanted to discuss a topic that came up both here and at Sleuthfest, which is about not believing in yourself. It's called the Imposter Syndrome, and yes, I discuss it in the book as well as including an exercise to analyze your own self-image. Basically it is the feeling that, no matter how successful you might appear to be, that you are really just faking it. Someday people will come into your home and strip the shelves of the awards, the books, your computer, and declare that you are a fraud. I heard Barry Longyear comment that he had this all the time, and he's certainly a multiple-award-winner as well as a helluva good writer by any standard. (Go. Read. Now.)
But I digress. How do you deal with the Imposter Syndrome? That's what I want to discuss care of Bob Williamson, head of the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) Florida Chapter.
Bob was trained as an engineer (if I am remembering properly), but in one of his classes he was trying to design in a baroque style. He was having a hard time, and he told his professor "I'm just not a baroque designer." The professor responded: "Well, think of what you would do if you were a baroque designer--and do that!"
In other words, pretend you a were baroque designer. I thought this was a rather neat idea--it is saying, "no, I'm not really like this--but it's okay to pretend!" Strikes me that this is using the Imposter Syndrome to your advantage.
The truth is: Everyone's faking it. You just get better at it over time. Look, you can be a world-famous, beloved, and wealthy author, or you can just fake it so well that you become a world-famous, beloved, and wealthy author. Who's going to be able to tell the difference?
I see writers setting absurd standards for themselves, mostly because they don't realize this basic truth. When you pick up a book in a store, you are reading the last draft someone produces. Maybe the first one sucked--but you'll never know. Don't judge your first draft by their last. Pretend to be a writer, and do that!