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Overcoming Self-Doubt as an Author with ADHD 

Updated: May 10, 2023

If you live with ADHD, feelings of self-doubt and imposter syndrome can frequently creep in and undermine your confidence as an author. When faced with rejections, delays, or other setbacks in your publishing journey, it's easy to question whether you have what it takes to achieve your dreams. But the truth is, your creative gifts and voice are uniquely your own. No one can tell the stories you have to share.


Though the road may not always be easy, stay determined in pursuing your purpose. Here are some tips to help overcome self-doubt and nurture the kick-ass abilities your brain tries convincing you that you don't possess (hint: your brain lies to you).:


Believe in Yourself: Have faith in the ability and power that lies within you. You were born with a spark of creativity that is all your own. Fan that spark into flames through practice and perseverance.


I know this is easier said than done, but when imposter syndrome creeps in, I like to remind myself of something I heard Becca Syme say. And seriously, if you haven't heard of Becca, she's worth checking out. But now, I'm getting off the subject...

Imposters don't get imposter syndrome. -Becca Syme, Better Faster Academy

Basically, if you didn't care about what you're trying to do, you wouldn't worry that you're not enough.


 

Start Small: Don't feel overwhelmed by big goals or dreams. Take "baby steps" and break things into manageable chunks. Achieve small milestones to build up your confidence over time through progress.


This is where executive dysfunction and imposter syndrome work together to make you feel like you'll never reach the finish line. For a lot of people with ADHD, we see a task and instantly start breaking it down into a million little tasks, but instead of realizing that's our brain trying to make life easier, we see our to-do list growing to the point we're buried at the bottom of the pile.


So, don't think about it as "I need to publish the next book."


It's totally okay if you forget about publishing completely. And please, for the love of everything holy, don't think about marketing right now. Seriously, we're not there and it's one of the biggest traps imposter syndrome lays in front of us.


Try this. Today, I want you to do one thing that will get you closer to the finish line. That might be creating an outline or coming up with a list of potential plot bunnies. It could be figuring out character names.


Once you've done that, celebrate! You're a freaking rock star!


Tomorrow, do it again. Only focus on the thing you're working on now because that's much easier to control and plan for than, "I need to outline a book and then write it. While I'm doing that, I need to find an editor and book them and hope they have time for me. Oh, but what if they think my book sucks? Do I really think I can do this? Okay, yes. I can do this. Okay, write the book. Yeah, that's what we're doing. So, after I write the book, then I have to revise it. Crap. What if I read it and realize I can't do this after all? Well, that'll be better than if readers tell me how bad it is. Okay, so writing the book. Yep, we've got this..."


Do you see how tiring that can be?


In the Write Your Own Path community, we have several characters who help us out when we need. Or, in some cases, give face to our fears.


Izzy Imposter is one of my favorites. Not only are they oddly attractive for a cartoon character, but they're going to help us beat the snot out of the voice of self-doubt. So, when this happens to you, ask Izzy to tell your brain to shut the hell up so you can write.


Izzy Imposter along with the quote "Imposter Syndrome doesn't magically go away once you reach a certain milestone. If anything, it can get so much worse because your brain now feels the pressure of trying to keep entertaining your readers. Basically, the BS your brain spews simply changes.   But along with it, you change. You'll have the proof of your past guiding you forward."

Learn from More Seasoned Authors: Follow authors you admire who have learned resilience in the face of uncertainty or rejection. Study what has helped them push past obstacles in their own careers. You never know what lessons might apply to your own journey.


Oh, and the other thing you're going to learn from them... Imposter Syndrome doesn't magically go away once you reach a certain milestone. If anything, it can get so much worse because your brain now feels the pressure of trying to keep entertaining your readers. Basically, the BS your brain spews simply changes.


But along with it, you change. You'll have the proof of your past guiding you forward.


 

Challenge Negative Thoughts: Notice when your inner critic pipes up with messages of self-doubt and replace them with more constructive thoughts. Why do you have this negative thought? You are not defined by any one failure or rejection. Separate your self-worth from outcomes.


Don't you roll your eyes at me! (and I know you did because I just did the same thing)

One of the universal negative thoughts is, "This book is total crap!"


Ironically, I've heard several authors comment about how when they think something is absolute rubbish, their readers swear it's one of the best books they've ever written.


Why is that?


Well, probably because you give a damn about what you're doing. Remember, imposters don't get imposter syndrome because they're not invested in what's happening with their work.


Of course, it could mean you have work to do, too. But that's not a bad thing. This is where you have two choices: succumb to imposter syndrome and think there's nothing you can do to make changes or you can call on Izzy to help you out of this funk. With them by your side, you can grab that extra-large cup of coffee and work through your revisions.


 

Practice Self-Care: Make sure to nurture your physical and mental health. Exercise, limit social media use, engage in hobbies, and connect with others who love and support you. Taking good care of yourself will help decrease symptoms of imposter syndrome and make setbacks feel less monumental.


I'd be willing to bet this is a critical step more than half of authors ignore. No, we don't ignore it. We tell ourselves we'll earn it when... "Once I finish this book, I'll take some." "I can't take a day off, I have a deadline looming." or even worse... "I can't afford to do this thing that would be really good for me," whether it's it's financially, time-wise, emotionally, whatever.


Take care of yourself! Put on your oxygen mask, then get back to work.


 

Celebrate Wins: Big or small, give yourself permission to feel a sense of pride or accomplishment for the goals you achieve and milestones you reach. Get in the habit of being your own biggest fan.


Remember up above where I talked about focusing on one small task you can get done instead of trying to see what's still way beyond your horizon?


Now that you've done that thing, celebrate it! Acknowledge that you did something that will get you a step closer to your goal and build on that tomorrow.


I don't care if you're writing your first book or your fiftieth. There's going to be a time when self-doubt is absolutely whipping you in the backside. It's during those times when you need to get back to basics and celebrate what you are able to get done.


 

Almost every successful author experiences feelings of self-doubt as some point. But with time and practice, you can overcome imposter syndrome by developing confidence in your abilities. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and stay determined. Your words have power and there are readers waiting to discover them.


Believe in yourself and keep going - you've got this! The challenges you face will only make your success that much sweeter. Step into confidence and watch as your purpose unfolds. Your talent and voice matter, so share them with the world.


If you have an exercise that's helped you overcome self-doubt and imposter syndrome, feel free to leave a comment below so we can help one another fill the tool box!

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