Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

When Getting Naked Isn’t Any Fun…

Posted on Aug 5, 2015 by Lisa Ricard Claro   24 Comments | Posted in The Naked Truth

Photo of Venus by Carole Raddato via Flickr

Image courtesy of Carole Raddato via Flickr.com

It isn’t always easy to tell the Naked Truth. Sometimes the Naked Truth is boring. Sometimes it’s embarrassing. Sometimes it’s just plain hard to tell, for any one of a dozen different reasons. Usually, the telling of the Naked Truth requires that I open myself up in some way, be vulnerable, and that isn’t always effortless. Most of the time, I couch it in humor, which makes it easier for me to write, and easier for you to read. Today is not one of those days.

The fact is, this has been a challenging week for me for a number of different reasons. I won’t bore you with a list. Suffice it to say that once my imagination stops conjuring worst case scenarios, everything will be fine. There are no life and death situations going on, just me being me, battling back the Bully of Self-Doubt yet again. He rears his head periodically and, unfortunately, this was the week. Turns out, it isn’t all bad. I’m actually in pretty good company.

Let me explain. During the RWA conference I talked to a lot of people, some published authors, others still working toward that end. A theme emerged, a Truth that threaded through the eye of many comments and appeared woven into the general fabric of people’s self-view. It was the underlying belief that in spite of their talent and accomplishments, their inclusion into the writers’ tribe was due to good luck and wishful thinking. Don’t misunderstand, please. Writers are a hardheaded and motivated group, and none will discount that their own hard work propelled them forward. No, what I mean is that in spite of that success, however great or small, there was the niggling fear that they didn’t deserve it. As if all that pounding away at the keyboard was somehow just play-acting, and all that followed a fluke.

On a good day, most writers and other creatives think they’re hacks, and on the worst of days, we’re worried everyone will find out we’re total frauds. This self-deprecating view is not unique to me, I’ve learned. I can’t speak for every writer out there—you may be one of the lucky ones that never has a doubt—but I’d hazard a guess that most feel the heat of Self-Doubt at least some of the time. There are those upswings, of course, when we read a passage we’ve written and deem ourselves flippin’ brilliant, but those are few and far between, and don’t last long after the big glass of wine that improved our self-confidence has worked its way out of our system.

This horrendous Self-Doubt in the face of success has a name: Impostor Syndrome. I’m going out on a limb here, but I bet most creatives suffer from this, at least at some point in their careers. Throw into the mix negative comments from a trusted source, and the insecurity becomes a dragon that will eat a creative spirit alive if allowed to smolder.

I’m here to tell you, do not allow it to smolder. And if you must, remember that the only good to come from that slow and steady burn is the forging of a thicker skin.

Impostor Syndrome is not limited to writers, though if you count the number that suffer from this psychological phenomena you could build an army. Let’s look at a few quotes by some people whose names you might recognize:

 

“I still believe that at any time the no-talent police will come and arrest me.” —Mike Myers

“It’s almost like the better I do, the more my feeling of inadequacy actually increases, because I’m just going, ‘Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud, and that I don’t deserve any of what I’ve achieved.’” —Emma Watson

“You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?’” —Meryl Streep

“I don’t know whether every author feels it, but I think quite a lot do—that I am pretending to be something I am not, because even nowadays, I do not quite feel as though I am an author.” —Agatha Christie

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’” —Maya Angelou

 

Can you imagine? Meryl Streep, for heaven’s sake! The brilliant Maya Angelou!

As creatives, we need to remember—we must remember—that opinions about our work are subjective. Some will love it, some may hate it, and others will be lukewarm. And that’s okay. Really.

If you’re any kind of artist, the next time you feel like a fraud, or someone renders an opinion that knocks the wind out of you, remember that you aren’t creating your art for them. You’re creating it for those who need it, who will appreciate it, who will be touched by it in some positive way.

The Naked Truth:  Our art is subjective and won’t speak to everyone. But it will speak to someone. Believe that person will find it, and do your best work for them.

For each one of you who has taken the time to tell me that Love Built to Last made you laugh, made you cry, made you feel—I thank you, from the bottom of my angst-ridden, self-doubting, but completely earnest heart.  🙂

Have you experienced self-doubt in your career, Impostor Syndrome? If so, how did you overcome it? Please leave a comment.

See you Friday –
Lisa

P.S.  I’m six “likes” short of 300 on my Facebook Author page. If you haven’t yet “liked” it, would you mind doing so now to help me hit the target?

 

Romance is good for your heart! To purchase your copy of Love Built to Last in eBook or print, go to AmazonBarnes & NobleBlack Opal BooksKobo, or AllRomance.

 

24 Responses to "When Getting Naked Isn’t Any Fun…"

  1. Comment by Linda O'Connell
    August 5, 2015 at 5:57 pm  

    Oh absolutely I join the ranks of those who wonder: When will I be discovered…not the good way, but that I am a wanna be, never gonna be, what do they really think of me? Fortunately these are fleeting thoughts and do not control me. I think all creative people must experience these Who-ME-moments.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 6, 2015 at 8:36 pm  

      It’s almost a rite of passage, isn’t it, Linda? And the sooner it passes, the better! 🙂

  2. Comment by ButtonsMom2003
    August 5, 2015 at 6:18 pm  

    I think self-doubt is part of human nature. I seem to remember you had a post a while back about how many people find it difficult to accept a complement. I think the self-doubt thing is kind of like that.

    I’m absolutely not creative but experienced what you are talking about during my career. I was very fortunate to have a boss who promoted from within, especially women. He was a big factor in how well I did, promotion wise, but every now and then I had to remind myself that I was also a hard worker and he was good at rewarding hard workers.

    I could not do what you do – writing and putting yourself out there, open to the world of critics. It is so much easier to praise and criticize authors now than it was before the Internet, Amazon, Goodreads, etc. I would have loved to connect with my favorite authors from my late teenage/early 20 years but it would have meant actually sitting down and writing a letter. Now all I have to do is go to Facebook.

    Even when I have been critical of a book I usually try to find something good to say. Even then I know that my review probably hurt someone’s feelings. These days I’m leaning more towards just not reviewing something that I don’t care for because, just like you said, it’s so subjective. What I don’t like someone else might love.

    Well, I’ve gone on too long here. Just know that your writing is appreciated and try not to let any negative comments get you down.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 6, 2015 at 8:39 pm  

      You’ve touched on an important point. It is true that social media has opened up authors to the public in a way that increases vulnerability. There are people out there, known as “trolls,” who deliberately leave hurtful comments and try to stir up trouble. I’ve been fortunate not to run into anyone like that, but I certainly sympathize with those bloggers and authors (and others) who have fallen victim to that sort of nastiness.

      And you didn’t go on too long. You left a thoughtful comment, and I appreciate it!

  3. Comment by Rob
    August 5, 2015 at 8:27 pm  

    I think we’ve talked about this. I moved the collection of publications I’ve been published in next to my desk so I can look over and see them when I get that feeling. What I do is I try to stay on schedule. I put the time at the desk in and hope it pays off. Then I think that if I never get published again, I’ve achieved my original goal. I worked hard, somebody paid me so they could use my work, and people I don’t even know read my stuff and liked it. Anyway, the feeling goes away when you get back to work. Don’t let the bastards get you down. 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 6, 2015 at 8:42 pm  

      Thanks, Rob. And I think you’re right, we did talk about it. It’s a weird sort of thing when one experiences it—on one level, we know better, but on the other level…! And yes, doing the work is what pushes it back, every time. Good reviews don’t hurt either. 😉

  4. Comment by Debra Mayhew
    August 5, 2015 at 8:39 pm  

    Lisa, THIS really touched me today. Thank you for the reminder. Sometimes I look at the stories and poems I’ve published and think that exact thing: That was just a stroke of luck and it probably won’t happen again. Instead, I need do what you suggest, and remember that it resonated with others and that’s why it got published. Most likely, I will forget in another few months. Maybe you could remind me again?! 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 6, 2015 at 8:45 pm  

      You bet! 🙂 It really does help to remember that there are those who love our work, and those are the folks we should be listening to! (So listen to me, because I love your work!)

  5. Comment by Cathy C. Hall
    August 5, 2015 at 8:42 pm  

    Ugh. It’s just a constant, that self doubt, isn’t it? What do I do? Hmmm…I think I just keep writing. What else can we do? 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 6, 2015 at 8:47 pm  

      Right again, Master Y. Writing is it. Also a cat purring in one’s lap doesn’t hurt. 🙂

  6. Comment by Casey Hagen
    August 5, 2015 at 8:52 pm  

    I go through it every day despite my long list of cheerleaders, you being one of them 😀 I go back through something I’ve written amazed that I came up with something so clever and then I start to think of the hundred different ways I could change it for the better. When I get a message or post that something I’ve written is wonderful, I’m surprised…especially since I spent my days while said person had my writing in their possession, flinching, just waiting for them to come back and say it sucks.

    Despite the doubts, I need to write. I crave it more than I worry about what others think about me or my stories.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 6, 2015 at 8:50 pm  

      That’s the heart of it, Casey. Writers must push past the angst and just write. Even on those days when Self-Doubt says not to bother…and maybe especially on those days!

  7. Comment by Claudia
    August 5, 2015 at 10:24 pm  

    Subjective is right…rewrote a poem three times last week for an editor but he still didnt like it enough although he said he Loved the poem if only….one of his peeves were caps on every line! Fiction rejected today. But oh well…I keep writing like I can! I’d say if you were in the company of Miss Maya and Meryl…you are doing well!!!!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 6, 2015 at 8:52 pm  

      And Agatha Christie, too! Whaaaat??

  8. Comment by Sioux
    August 6, 2015 at 7:32 am  

    Sometimes I agree with an editor (“It really wasn’t my best story”) and other times, I really believe the rejection should not have taken place. As far as self-doubt, I have such a self-denigrating sense of humor, doubt about my abilities goes zinging back and forth so much, it’s hard to keep track, but it’s usually couched in humor.

    Tell that self-doubter inside you to STFU. Immediately.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 6, 2015 at 8:53 pm  

      Elegantly worded, as always. 🙂 Your advice is duly noted, and he has been told, in vibrant Technicolor.

  9. Comment by Rob
    August 6, 2015 at 12:41 pm  

    I must say one more thing. Editors and agents don’t know anymore about what people want to read than we as writer do–they just hope we think they do and are probably hoping somebody doesn’t come along and bust THEM for being impostors. I work with one editor who calls himself “Editor Emeritus.” Really? Can you just imagine the hubris of that guy. He told me my writing was good, but not great, and he was looking for great. When I thought about what it took for a guy like that to tell somebody their work was good, I figured there would be plenty of others who WOULD think I was great. 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 6, 2015 at 8:55 pm  

      Well, actually, Rob, you are pretty great. 🙂 And I hope that editor is going to end up in one of your stories one of these days. I’ll be on the lookout for him.

  10. Comment by Theresa Sanders
    August 6, 2015 at 4:12 pm  

    Boy, did I need this post today, Lisa. I’ve been beaten up by that ol’ bully self-doubt, and his irritating impostor cousin, a lot recently. I do agree that a certain amount of doubt is part of human nature, but we creative types just seem to experience it more deeply. What I try to do is write my way through it — “this too shall pass” — or sometimes, a change of focus helps. Sometimes, reading a good book helps too. The act of reading makes me remember why I came to writing in the first place: the love of words and craft.

    Hang in there, my friend. Love Built to Last is excellent and the new cover is gorgeous. You’ve got it going on, and you are stronger than Doubt and Impostor put together. Besides, they only lurk around on the inside; they’re too cowardly to come out and face the daylight 😉

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 6, 2015 at 8:58 pm  

      Thanks, Teri. 🙂 Self-Doubt is always hanging around, but usually I manage to keep him in his place. It’s just been one of those weeks, ya know? I think more chocolate might help. And wine. lol

  11. Comment by Tammy
    August 6, 2015 at 5:15 pm  

    As usual, your naked truth laid bare a nerve. I’ve discussed this at length with a writing friend, and we agree that the very sensitivity that drives our need to write is the same one that cracks the whip of self-doubt. But I do like your idea of drinking wine! I will leave you with another quote from someone I think is one of the greatest authors of all time: “No one else knows my lack of ability the way I do…. My work is no good…I’m desperately upset about it…. It isn’t the great book I had hoped it would be. It’s just a run-of-the-mill book. And the awful thing is that it is absolutely the best I can do.” ~John Steinbeck on The Grapes of Wrath

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 6, 2015 at 9:02 pm  

      That Steinbeck quote is something, isn’t it? Amazing that he could feel that way. But I agree with the point you made, that the core of our need to write is dual-sided, and the opposite side of the creativity is that doubt we all suffer to some degree. I suppose given that, the doubt is a small price to pay for what we get in return.

  12. Comment by Pat
    August 7, 2015 at 9:38 am  

    Move over, Lisa. I’m sorry to say that I own the title, Queen of Self-Doubt, and my kingdom is filled with some not very nice residents. I must constantly guard against my three top enemies, better known as Insecurity, Thin-Skinnedness, and Envy. When they conspire together, there’s only one thing to do. I read my favorite passages of Bird by Bird while eating a chocolate coated vanilla ice cream cone.

    Ahhh. That’s a combination fit to vanquish anything.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 9, 2015 at 6:42 pm  

      I like the way you think, Pat. I may have to dig out my copy of Anne Lamott’s book. I don’t have any ice cream, but I think there’s a red velvet cupcake in the fridge. 🙂


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