I was in a Zoom discussion yesterday with my colleagues on the topic of Imposter Syndrome. After which, I had a think and came up with a different word for this ‘thing’ that seems to inflict all of us–not just writers but humans in general.
‘Imposter’ has always seemed to suggest that I am, in fact, an imposter. ‘Syndrome’ sounds like a chronic condition. Neither feels or has ever felt right.
The real word that comes to mind is ‘hesitation’.
There are situations and states of mind that make me hesitate. Hesitate with deliberate thought and all’s good. Hesitate too long and I miss opportunity.
I’ve hesitated a lot during my life, sometimes with fear of making a mistake, sometimes with concern that I was taking time away from sleep to write, or from doing something ‘useful’ that could provide more money for my family.
I’ve hesitated a lot and wanted to pull my hair out over the years when I just couldn’t hit the mark in that tense scene or that epic battle. Hesitation when I still didn’t have all the tools in my writerly tool box. Hesitated whether to spend money that mentorship program working with pros who would stretch my skills to the point where I felt like I was dunking my brain in boiling ink.
Hesitation is always hesitation no matter what it’s about.
I hesitate and wonder if I’m procrastinating by cleaning the kitchen in the middle of writing a hard scene.
Comparison with other writers makes me hesitate. Bad reviews make me hesitate. So does harsh critique. I take myself in hand and push on but there’s always hesitation first.
Trying to get to the root of why I’m hesitating helps.
Am I too sick to write, and what’s with that monkey on my back that has me pissed off at somebody? What about that craft market I want to attend, or the desire to see how my troubled friend is faring? Are these ok to take time for? Why am I not walking more? Am I too old, was I too young? How to push on when the family thinks what I do is a hobby and not a job?
Hesitation. Yes. Seriously, I’m human. Get over it.
What I’m saying is to think of ‘hesitation’ as a the natural human process of pulling back to make sure we’re on the right track.
So happy hesitation.
Let it show us that fork in the road. Let it show us how to avoid poking ourselves with that fork.
What comes next is our forking decision, and I’m sticking with that view.
Stay purposeful. Stay strong. Tell me what’s making you hesitate these days.