Author Impostor Syndrome

Author Impostor Syndrome

This week I finished ghostwriting my third full-length novel of the year so far, and made a start on a book of my own. 

Now, given that it’s still only April, and I’m already on my fourth book, you’d think I’d have pretty much adjusted to this whole “fiction writing” thing by now, right?


The fact is, I still don’t feel like a “real” author. And, I mean, that’s partly because, as a ghostwriter, I don’t get to put my own name to the fiction I write. (AND I DON’T WANT TO, just to be clear.) It’s also, however, because every time I log into Facebook, where I’ve joined numerous groups for fiction writers, I realise that I just don’t relate at all to a lot of what’s being said there by the “real” writers who’ve written dozens of books to my measly four, and who seem to have a completely different experience than the one I do. For instance…

Author Impostor SyndromeI don’t get up at  3am to write, because I’m so desperate to get the story down that I cant wait another second to get those words out. 

Because I like sleep, basically. More than I like writing, actually. Writing is my job, but sleeping is my hobby, and, well, let’s just say I know which one I’d pick in a fight. Yes.

I don’t have stories eating away at me, begging to be told.

For my ghostwriting work I’m given a plot to work from, but, with my own books, I’ll basically be starting from scratch, trying to dream up an idea from nowhere, and then painstakingly flesh it out until it vaguely resembles a story. The whole time I’m doing this, I will be feeling vaguely self-conscious about it, because, I mean, what a weird thing to do, right? Like, I’m just sitting here making stuff up? And then I’m going to write it down, as if it’s real? MAD.

My characters don’t feel like friends to me – not even imaginary ones. 

Honestly, if my characters ever started “speaking” to me, the way other fiction writers claim theirs do, I’d assume I’d completely lost it, and would call the doctor and tell her I’d started hearing voices. I think I’d also be quite scared, and worry that it was some kind of “Exorcist” style situation. But apparently this is a normal thing for people writing fiction; just… not for me.

The characters don’t “misbehave” or “start doing things I didn’t want them to”.

Because I literally made them up? And they’re not real? So they can’t actually do anything I don’t want them to?

(This is probably the thing I see talked about most often on my writer’s groups, and it completely baffles me. It seems every author has at least one moment per book where they’re all, “Tee hee, these characters of mine are OUT OF CONTROL!” And I’m just like, HOW? How is this happening? Because I am so confused right now…)

I don’t want my friends and family to read what I write. I’d rather they didn’t, in fact. 

I talked about this over on Patreon recently, but not a week goes by on Facebook without at least someone in one of my groups being really upset because their friends and family members aren’t all desperate to read their books. I am really envious of these people, because, honestly, I don’t WANT people who know me to read my books. Seriously, if you’re someone who knows me and you’re thinking of reading my books, just… don’t. I’m begging you. I don’t come to your job with you, so please don’t feel like you have to come to mine. 

I don’t like talking about the books, either.

Honestly, I find the whole process of fiction writing a bit … cringe, for want of a better word? The main reason I think I don’t want the people who know me to read the books I write is because I imagine them just looking at them and going, “LOL, Amber just made this up!” And because a lot of people DO buy into the idea of the writer as a creative genius, getting up at 3am so her characters can “speak through her” or whatever, they probably imagine that THESE stories are the things that have been eating away at me for decades.

Which they’re NOT, just to be clear. They’re just what I do to earn a living, and the fact that I actually enjoy doing it (Well, most of the time, anyway…) is just an added bonus. 

So, in conclusion, I am Not a Real Author. Or not yet, anyway. I do, however, have a Real Mailing List that I set up yesterday, so that those of you who are interested in finding out more about the books I’m writing (My own ones, I mean; I’m not allowed to tell you about the ghostwritten ones, and you should be really happy about that, trust me), and when they’ll be published, can get an email alert about it. 

The thing is, after giving it a lot of thought, and taking all of the above into account, I’ve decided I probably won’t release my books under my own name, or promote them here on the blog; or, at least, not at first. At some point in the future I may or may not get the hell over myself and be willing to talk about these books publicly, but, right now I’m enjoying the freedom of using a pen name, and not having to worry about what everyone I know is going to think about what I write. 

With that said, I have had a few messages from readers who are genuinely interested in reading fluffy romance novels, so, if you’re one of them, you can sign up to the mailing list here. (If you’re NOT someone who reads romance novels anyway, meanwhile, I’m going to respectfully ask you to NOT DO THIS, because you will not like these books, and that’ll just be awkward for both of us.) I’ll also be writing about the books themselves and the process of writing them on my Patreon, which you’ll find here

So, now that I’ve got my mailing list, does that make me a “real” author, I wonder? Or am I still just pretending?

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  • Myra Boyle


    I do hope you are able to create a novel (romance or not) because I love how you write. A librarian recently recommended a romance for me so I took it and after 20 pages thought I’d never finish this tripe. However, I didn’t have anything else to read so kept going and it did take a good direction so I finished it.
    If your mover becomes a bestseller, you can own it xx

    April 27, 2022
  • Myra Boyle


    *novel – I hate predictive text

    April 27, 2022
  • Steffi


    In my experience as an author (and I still struggle with that word even though I have ten books under my belt) the whole “my characters misbehave LOL” is usually a result of bad plotting or characters that aren’t fleshed out enough yet. If I have a strong plot and characters with clear motivation, they don’t simply do what they want. So, actually, the fact that your characters _don’t_ do that is a good sign. 🙂

    (I also don’t get up at 3am to write. That’s when I sleep.)

    April 27, 2022
  • Katie Writes Stuff


    I’m one of those writers with misbehaving characters and I can’t really explain it. It’s as though I create the character mould and think it will be a perfect fit but the character refuses to fit into the mould and decides to display completely different characteristics instead. Sometimes it happens while I’m in the middle of the story; sometimes it happens in the planning. For instance, my most recent story was meant to revolve around a particular protagonist, but once I found a name for a secondary character, a whole personality whooshed in with it and basically took over the story.

    Perhaps it’s just the subconscious finding better ways to do things behind the scenes.

    I’ve also been known to get up at 5am and write but that was because I had a very long commute to a very tiring job and it was the only time I was awake enough to be creative.

    April 28, 2022