Imposter Syndrome in book blogging, writing and other careers #mrsbloggsbooks

I’ve consulted Dr Google and Twitter and self-diagnosed that I’m suffering from Bookblogger Imposter Syndrome.

The other day I posted this on Twitter

‘Think I’m suffering from ‘Bookblogger Imposter Syndrome’. It’s the one where people feel they’re not worthy of the title and their blog is crap’

I had so many responses from other bloggers who reassured me that my blog wasn’t crap. It was very kind of them and I really appreciated it but I wasn’t fishing for compliments.

Imposter Syndrome is a real ‘thing’. It’s a well known social anxiety disorder. Apparently.

Fellow book bloggers and writers also privately messaged me on Twitter to say that they too were affected by it.

Imposter syndrome is a term that was first used by psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in the 1970s. It’s the fear of being exposed as a fraud.

One writer wrote that she felt like that at every book launch party and each time she had book signings and events where she appeared on stage as part of a panel of authors.

Guardian article: ‘According to some estimates, up to 70% of successful people have experienced impostor syndrome, including Maya Angelou, Albert Einstein, and Meryl Streep’

Who knew?

I’m not going to go on too much about the pressures of book blogging. Drew, another book blogger who writes some excellent posts on his blog has written a post all about it Here I can’t really explain sensibly why I feel like a book blogging fraud. I just do. It’s a sort of ‘what on Earth am I doing? Who do I think I am?’ Feeling. Along with the expectation of someone coming along one day to expose me as a fraud.

It does feel like a responsibility. There is a certain amount of responsibility about being a book blogger. I want to do a good job for the author if I’ve enjoyed a book. I want to encourage other people to buy the book. I also want to do a good job for the blog tour organisers if on a blog tour, or the publicists who have sent me an ARC, either of a physical book or an ecopy via NetGalley. I look at other bloggers reviews and they’re so much better than mine.

Not many people ever comment on my posts, except for the lovely Nicki from The Secret Library Blog who keeps me going, literally. Other bloggers have so many comments right down the page. I’m an imposter.

I’ve had this feeling once before (this but might be lengthy so make a cuppa to read it and if you’re squeamish give it a miss altogether)

I was a student nurse in my second year of training and on a three month placement in an operating theatre. Another nurse in my group was with me and we’ve spoken of it afterwards as being the best placement of our nurses training. It was nerve wracking at times though. I actually developed a twitch like tic in my upper eyebrow at the time and when I saw a doctor he told me to change my job! It went once I changed placement.

At first student nurses are eased in to working life in theatre very gradually. We were the lowest life form. The ‘runners’. Our role was to fetch and carry and be handmaidens for the surgeons. Nothing much was expected from us. We were part of a fantastic team with other experienced, qualified nurses who guided us.

We weren’t gloved and gowned (scrubbed up) at first. We stood around observing the surgery going on on the table. Occasionally, as and when required, fetching and carrying. Sterile water out of the chiller cabinets at the back of theatre. Spare sutures for stitches. Each surgeon had their own preference and we learned which ones. Spare swabs. Anything that was needed. By that time in our training we knew about sterile technique and were aware that we never contaminated the aseptic sterile area around the open wound(s) of patients. We would open the sterile packs of whatever and drop it without touching the contents inside into the sterile area. We’d take specimens (bodily parts) away into the sluice area to be labelled, not by us, by a qualified nurse and sent to the path lab (pathology) for testing. Tumours, appendixes, gall bladders and countless other body parts. Once I was asked to stand at the end of the operating table and take a newly amputated leg and put it into a bucket on the floor. It didn’t faze me at all. Even though out of that environment it definitely would have! It was all wrapped up in surgical drape paper but still recognisable as a leg and it was heavy.

We had to stand looking absolutely fascinated by the ongoing routine surgery cases even though we’d seen the same routine operations over and over. Sometimes, some clever clogs surgeon would try to catch us out by firing questions at us about the procedure or anatomy of the surgery they were performing and if we didn’t give the correct answer they’d completely humiliate us and their junior cohorts and sycophantic juniors would howl with laughter at our expense. So we had to keep on our toes and not let our minds wander as mine sometimes did!

Other times we’d help the surgeons in the scrub room to glove and gown by tying up the cords at the backs of their sterile surgical gowns and opening the sterile gloves packet that once they’d scrubbed their hands with antibacterial soap and dried them on the sterile paper towels we opened they could just slip their hands inside and tuck their sterile gowned cuffs inside. We had to make sure that we filled in the sterile glove drawers with all sizes or God help us if a surgeon did not have the correct size of glove available.

Very gradually we’d take on more and more responsibilities such as opening the trays of sterile instruments, checking the seal was intact and checking they were all present without contaminating them of course. It was all look, count and never touch. We’d occasionally be allowed to glove and gown up and be allowed to stand at the table along with the other trained nurses who knew what they were doing and observe or hold a retractor until we were eventually allowed to be the only nurse at the table with the surgeons on minor routine cases. Vasectomies, circumcisions or the routine gynaecology minor cases such as D&C. These were all very routine cases and part of the operation list week after week in the general hospital where I trained.

One particular time it was just me and the surgeon at the table for a minor op and I was passing him the surgical instruments. He barked at me that I’d passed him the scissors the wrong way around. Well I handed them to him handle towards him and not cutting end first! A medical student came to my rescue and said that no doubt someone would write a dissertation about it in the future, taking the heat off me for which I was grateful but feeling mortified nevertheless.

It was at these times that Imposter Syndrome really kicked in and I felt that it shouldn’t be me there standing at an operating table. It was too much and felt overwhelming and someone was going to expose me as not being good enough. I was right back as a convent schoolgirl being told off and humiliated by the nuns and made to feel worthless.

( I can’t watch Call The Midwife because of the saintly portrayal of the nuns. Ours were definitely not like that, particularly the one who told me I’d never make a nurse, my lifelong ambition)

Now here I am as a book blogger feeling that same fear!

I’m so glad I’m retired from nursing now it has to be said. There is so much more pressure on nurses these days. My daughter and two nieces have followed me into the profession. My sister was a nurse and my older cousin ended up being a Director Of Nurse Training in a hospital in Vancouver. Two relatives have taken time off nursing for stress recently.

Book blogging should be a doddle compared to all of that. Shouldn’t it?

Are you a book blogger feeling like an imposter or do you have any experience of feeling like this in your career or life. I’d be interested in reading about your experiences in the comments below.

62 thoughts on “Imposter Syndrome in book blogging, writing and other careers #mrsbloggsbooks

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  1. Such a good post! I regularly feel like this with book blogging, especially in the beginning when I was so overwhelmed by all the NetGalley books! I was brought up Catholic and also went a Catholic school. Could it be related, like Catholic guilt? I stopped being RC a long time ago but the ‘guilt’ still plagues me at times! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Think you have something there Nicki about the Catholic guilt thing. ‘Pride is a sin’ sort of thing plus the guilt. They didn’t exactly inspire us with confidence to go forth in life did they! I’m sorry to hear that you feel something similar. Oh those NetGalley books! Such temptation and then the guilt because I request too many and can’t keep up! Thanks for posting x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was afraid of feeling this way before I started blogging ..which actually held me back from starting one for a long time. I always felt revealing likes and dislikes of anything opens one up to judgement and if I did not meet the mark, the scrutiny would amount to criticism which I could not stomach.
    Since I’ve started blogging almost two years ago this fear fell away (although I only recently have even a single comment on every other post) mostly because so far I’ve been enjoying the writing part.
    Your blog has a unique approach and I even remember reading the post on why you post only positive reviews and marvelling at the confidence to stand by that policy. I bring this point up here because I would not have imagined that someone that established could have doubts as well.:)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’ve hit the nail on the head Anjana about revealing likes and dislikes opening you up to judgement. I think we’re our own worst critics. I say this often and it’s true I feel. A lot of us seem to doubt our own ability. I overthink things at times too. Thanks for posting x

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Caryl…EVERY SINGLE TIME I CLICK ON PUBLISH. No faith in what I write at all. No confidence in my own opinions…been going on for a long time now..yet the addiction side to it is always present. Excellent post Caryl. I know you are not looking for compliments but your blog is brilliant and your reviews etc are always wonderful.. xx

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I feel exactly the same – everyone else’s posts are much better, more in depth, whatever else (including yours, I might add 🙂 ) than mine. I always hover over the publish button wondering if I can make the post any better. My blog was private for a while before I took the plunge.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cathy, thanks so much for posting. I’m gobsmacked you feel the same. Your blog is so good and I like the way you have other content too. I’m going to try some of that too. I see you as one of the original book bloggers and one to aspire to. 😘

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Brilliant post Caryl, I can so identify with everything you have written. I remember getting my first Bravery Commendation as a Police Constable, my mum & dad were so proud, but I felt like a fraud, an imposter. I was doing my job, there to protect, I might have disarmed a male wielding a large kitchen knife, but I wasn’t brave, I was terrified inside, cried in the loo back at the station and felt sick for days afterwards. I was scared people would find out and know I wasn’t really who my Commendation said I was, that they would point fingers and say ‘She’s not really brave’.
    The same with my first book, I wouldn’t dare call myself an author, I had penned something, but I wasn’t published. Then I was signed and published. First book was launched, I was over the moon, but I still couldn’t bring myself to say I was an author. I called myself a ‘scribbler of words’. Second book launched – still the same, I can’t identify myself with other wonderful authors, I’m still just a ‘scribbler of words’.
    After reading your post I now realise it’s the fear again, the fear someone will point a finger and say ‘she’s not a proper author’.
    It took me forever to put that word in my Social Media Bio, I still cringe waiting for that one finger to point at me.
    I love your blog Caryl, I love the support & encouragement you all (book bloggers) give us ‘scribblers of words’…
    I love that I’m not alone in my self-doubt, thank you
    Gina x 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Gosh Gina. The thought of being a police officer fills me with horror. Everything you have to do and deal with and just carry on going. I once applied to be be a police officer but chickened out when a female PC came to the house on an informal call to talk about it. ‘I’ve changed my mind’ I shouted at the poor woman and have never regretted it. Sounds as though your sense of humour helped. I love your books and you have every right to call yourself an author 😘 Thanks for posting. I think we all need about 39 years of therapy! And then some in my case x

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Watch the comments fly for this post.👍📚

    Every time I press publish I think what I post is sh*t compared to others and I often feel that my blog is crap, I’m a crap blogger, etc. Ya know, I see many mega popular bloggers and congrats to them but I often struggle to see why my blog is so unpopular compared to there’s. It sucks, makes you question being a blogger and putting in the effort.😢

    No-one would think that you were fishing for compliments with your tweet. Many of us feel like you and we use tweets, etc to express how we are feeling and if others feel the same way. Which, for this, many do.👍

    I guess it doesn’t matter how many compliments you get, you are the one who has to realise that you are a great blogger and from someone who goes through the same often that is a hard thing to do.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You see how much time you saved me Drew by your post yesterday that was the blog of the day! 🤣
      I always enjoy your posts Drew. Your sense of humour has me laughing until my sides hurt sometimes. I don’t always read your reviews because you like different books that don’t always appeal to me but those of yours I do read are SO good.
      It is surprising that you feel that your blog is crap but as seen here, so many of us feel that way about our own blogs.
      When people do compliment my posts, this Imposter business seems to kick in even more. What are we like? 😬

      Liked by 2 people

  7. As an avid follower of your blog, I eagerly look forward to reading your thoughts on whatever you decide to post. Your writing is always thoughtful & beautiful-no imposter here!
    Sad to read you feel you may not be enough at times. Hope you can come to the realization that you are. Although I may not comment often, know that your wonderful words & impressions have lead me on numerous occasions to urgently seek out that particular author’s works.
    Hugs from Canada 💕

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Imposter Syndrome is something I sadly have a lifelong familiarity with. When I was a lawyer, I suffered severely and the more I achieved and the more responsibility I was given as a result, the worse it became. I’ve felt it as a mum, I feel it now as an aspiring author to the degree that I am procrastinating finishing my book because then I’ll have to let people read it and they might tell me it’s terrible and I’ll never be a real author and I’ll have to give up on my longest-held, most precious dream. This is despite having positive feedback and an agent waiting for the full manuscript, having read the first three chapters.

    I feel it less so as a blogger, not because I think I’m amazing but because my blog matters less I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and I am inordinately delighted when people like, comment and share my posts but it’s mainly just for fun and for me, so I maybe worry less about it. However, I still do think it’s terrible compared to so many other bloggers who do it so much better then I do and I do feel like an imposter next to them.

    You are included in that bunch, definitely. I love your blog and your reviews and you know you have inspired me to buy books – you were on my Tempted by… feature only last week so you are definitely not and should never feel like an imposter. I would say for sure you are inspiring as a blogger and up there with the best.

    Not that this will help at all, as we ‘imposters’ never believe what other people tell us!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for posting. That was an interesting post. I didn’t realise you were an aspiring writer. Sounds positive about your book. It’s weird how so many of us have the Imposter thing. I read somewhere on Dr Google that perfectionists are more prone. Thanks for those very kind words about my blog. It is good to hear that someone else would like to read/buy a book I’ve mentioned. Makes it all worthwhile x

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Hi – I hope you’ll finish your book. If you’ve got an agent waiting for it, you’re definitely doing something right. Very hard to get agents interested.
      I identified with what you say about having imposter syndrome as a mum too – been there!! As my children have grown I’ve realised it’s ok to back myself in my ability to parent my kids my way, it’s a unique and special thing for everyone. I hope you find that too. Nobody parents perfectly – nobody! It’s the most challenging thing we do. You sound like a switched on person and I bet you’re doing a top job!
      Definitely finish that book.
      Good luck!
      Aka Apple Island Wife

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Love this post, Caryl and I enjoyed your stories of student nursing. I totally get where you’re coming from, in life and in blogging. I get hardly any comments on my posts either but I enjoy blogging and get a sense of satisfaction from it. Your blog is fab so don’t worry about being an impostor. I can guarantee nobody thinks of you in that way.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. All the time!! I’m constantly waiting for someone to say “who the **** do you think you are? You chat rubbish!!!” as I feel everyone else is so wonderfully eloquent and intelligent and I’m just quietly waffling on hoping no one notices me!
    Brilliant and insightful post! Xx

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Do I feel like an imposter?! Good god, yes! I want to be a writer, I write, I’m a Masters student in Creative Writing and yet I cannot call myself a writer without adding the words ‘one day’ or ‘aspiring’ or jokingly, ‘when I grow up’ (titter, titter, giggle, giggle – I’m 35!)
    I’m constantly worried that my blog is a steaming heap, that I have nothing of use to say and that I’m just sat in the corner of the bloggers dance, all alone, swaying to the music.
    I wish I had more confidence in myself, and I really wish I could go out there and believe in myself. I constantly second guess and stop myself from achieving anything because I just don’t feel I’m worth anything. And so life overtakes me and I sit feeling sad and useless 😞

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Emma, this sounds like more than just Imposter Syndrome, especially what you write at the end. Are you OK? Good luck with your Masters and writing by the way. We could be blogging about your books in the future and you’ll remember this x

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m just feeling a bit lost at the moment is all. My course is coming to an end and looking to the future and I just don’t feel I have the confidence to be ‘out there’. I’m not sure if I’m more scared of failing completely at writing, or not even attempting to make it because I’m scared. These are standard feelings for me during times of change!! It’s just filtering into everything atm. I’ll be fine, I just need to work through it!

        Liked by 2 people

  12. What a wonderful and honest post, Caryl. I regularly suffer from imposter syndrome in blogging but also in my career in financial services. So many days I think that someone is going to point out that I’m not qualified or good enough to do the job I’m in.
    With blogging, it comes and goes. There are some posts I’ve written that I’m really proud of, and others that I’ve really struggled with that I think aren’t good enough. Ironically, the latter seem to do better in terms of views and likes, although I try not to focus on the numbers.
    I realise you’re not looking for compliments, but I very much enjoy your blog and I love your reviews x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Jo. My OH was a financial advisor and he ended up so stressed out by it that he left and became a trucker that he really enjoyed. Hope your job eases up. Yes, I feel something similar. Most of the time I really enjoy book blogging but the self doubt kicks in and to think we do this for free!
      Thanks for posting. Will have to start some online therapy sessions for Bookblogger Imposter Syndrome sufferers.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I definitely relate to your post. I got to a point last year that every time I pressed publish on a post I was just waiting for someone to say how rubbish my review was (no one ever did but the fear was always there). I ended up taking an unplanned break and wasn’t sure that I’d come back to blogging. I’ve found my mojo again now and am trying to be more relaxed and to remind myself that I blog for me, as a hobby, but I still check my posts a million times before I publish them. Your blog is brilliant and one I regularly check to see if there’s a new post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for posting. There’s that perfectionism again. I check mine a million times too, then feel like hiding the day I put a review up! We’re too hard on ourselves Hayley I think. You’re another one I’m surprised about who feels the same. I’m glad you came back to it. I remember when you stopped for a while. I need to remember it’s a hobby too. X

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m reading all these comments with my mouth open in astonishment. I thought I was the only one who had these ‘imposter syndrome’ feelings! “I look at other bloggers reviews and they’re so much better than mine.” you said – well, that’s exactly how I feel EVERY TIME!
    I often wonder why authors and publishers send me their books when it’s obvious that I’m no good.
    I get very few comments so I presume no-one is reading my blog and no-one is interested in my reviews. I also find it difficult to publicise my reviews on social media in case I get found out.
    Thank you so much for posting this and showing that I’m not the only one who feels like this. Keep up the good work in your blog, your reviews are super.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Thanks for your post. I do enjoy the FUN part of book blogging. I wouldn’t be doing it if there were no enjoyment whatsoever involved. A lot of the above was tongue in cheek and not written in blood but the feeling is very real and it doesn’t help to have it trivialised. I do however take what I write about books seriously and hope to do a proper job for the authors whose books I’m blogging about. I’m allowed. It’s my blog. I enjoy blog tours and have been introduced to authors whose books I wouldn’t have read otherwise. I have breaks every so often. We’re allowed to express doubts and fears rather than keeping everything in and it’s clear from this that I’m not alone. I don’t really appreciate being lectured.
    You comparing nursing to this is frankly out of line. Of course there is no comparison. I was drawing a parallel because I had felt the ‘Imposter Syndrome’ back in my nursing career. It’s very common.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ve gone to a bit of trouble to find this post since you told me about it – finding my glasses, getting the right password from the laptop, finding the tweet on my phone (I screenshot it so I could find it again). All because, let me tell you, some of us are in awe of anybody who blogs for the love of it! I include myself – nobody reads mine!
    You lot are providing an essential service and also essential and much valued support for us authors. I’m new to all this and have been gobsmacked at the dedication. I love this post, Caryl. That nun has a lot to answer for. I think a lot of us, especially women, self sabotage, and it’s good to give ourselves permission to believe in what we’re doing, and enjoy it. I hope I don’t offend anyone saying that. As someone who can be very hormonal with a full on life, I know you can’t just ‘snap out of’ things. I’ve probably got a thicker skin than some and more self belief because despite a fairly un-encouraging childhood, I’ve been self employed for years. Very good training.
    Back yourselves and enjoy ladies!! And know that your book blogging awesomeness is highly valued!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. PS – here’s a story my retired nursing friend Rhonda told me. She was on the rounds with a junior doctor (young woman) and a consultant (up-himself) and crowd of other junior doctors (inadequates). The consultant was unnecessarily mean and humiliated her somehow. Rhonda waited until the right moment, leaned over and said something to the junior doc about how she had lovely new shoes on, and ‘you know that means you’re not wearing any knickers, don’t you?’ And that since the shoes were very shiny, she’d have to watch out. They spent the rest of the rounds sniggering so the others wondered what the joke was and felt left out. They were firm friends after that. It’s good to look out for people like Rhonda who buoy you up in life. Have a wonderful day all xox

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Thanks Fiona. It occurred to me later than when I wrote the bit about me on a placement in an operating theatre that there were NO female consultants or surgeons in the hospital at that time (back in the 70’s) so thank goodness times have changed.
    Thanks for posting x

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I imagine by now that you know you are not alone! I have never been a blogger but in my job as a manager I constantly felt ‘impostor syndrome’ creeping in and asking myself ‘why do all these people think I know how to solve all these issues’ and so on. I asked myself many times, how did I get to this point in my career…it must have been by accident! Even when I go on holiday I ask myself ‘do you really deserve this treat?’ My explanation for these feelings is most definitely Catholic guilt as I too went to a convent school and can’t ever forget it. I think only the millenniums are immune to Impostors syndrome!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for posting. Mine has such a lot to do with my Catholic education and all the guilt. In our case we were made to feel that we weren’t good enough to even be nuns, not that any of aspired to be one but just in case we had any ideas above our station! We were also ‘scholarship girls’ passing the 11 plus and were constantly told how it was a good school (private) until we arrived. Good to meet you and thanks again for posting x

      Liked by 1 person

  20. It grieves me to think you could ever feel such self-doubt as a book blogger, Caryl. Your reviews are thoughtful, well-informed and a good read! Please don’t be too hard on yourself – and take encouragement from your friends and colleagues – we all believe in you! x

    Liked by 2 people

  21. This is such an excellent blog post and something I hear about among fellow authors all the time. It’ s a huge factor in why so many take so long to write a first book or even the following ones. Thank you so much for sharing this and giving writers a platform to share their own anxiety about this xx

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I had no idea there was a term for it. I’ve just said published a short story and friends of mine have always said I should start a blog or self promote it just a bit and I thought.. Why? No one wants to hear about what I have to say. It’s just meaningless. I still feel that way, but I’m glad I’m not the only one 😍

    Liked by 2 people

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