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Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Will the Real Author Please Stand Up?

by Laurie Tomlinson

When Viola Davis was called for her first Academy Award this year, I immediately wondered how on earth this could be her first one?The woman is incredibly talented, poised, and I have wished on more than one occasion that she (as Aibilene on The Help)could wake me up every morning:

You is kind. You is smart. You is important.

What stuck out to me the most was a post-awards interview with ABC News, in which Ms. Davis admitted to having impostor syndrome.

“It feels like my hard work has paid off, but at the same time, I still have the impostor syndrome," she said. "I still feel like I'm going to wake up and everybody's going to see me for the hack I am.”
Record scratch. What? According to her IMDB page, she has 76 acting credits to her name, can now add the highest accolade in her field to her already stacked shelf of awards, and she still feels like an impostor?

When I was writing my first novel, I began huddled in the corner of a coffee shop with my screen tilted at a neck cramping angle—afraid people would see what I was trying to do and call me out on it. Do you know what percentage of novels ever get finished? Ever get published? Why are you wasting time when you’ll never be a real writer?

Fortunately, I soon met two people who gave me the kick in the pants I needed to push past that fear and keep going. To own up to my work.That’s what I’m here to give someone today.

As a person who deeply values authenticity, I used to hate the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it” for obvious reasons. But now I know that’s all any of us are doing in the pursuit of our dreams. We put in the work, study our craft, and do our absolute best to do right by our stories and characters. Considering ourselves real writers, however, instead of impostors with laptops takes things to a totally different level. It can require unpacking a lot of fear.

In my new novella, That’s When I Knew, my heroine Chelsea has a pretty severe case of impostor syndrome. She designed a planner that became wildly popular—by accident, really. And she fears that, any moment, her customers are going to realize the woman with her name on the cover is actually a disorganized hot mess who had to design a planner that worked for her or flunk out of college.

Like Chelsea, considering ourselves real writers requires the ultimate bravery and vulnerability of infusing it into our identity, even before we put our work out there. I’d much rather someone fake it ‘til they make it because it means they’re afraid but they’re still doing it.They’re still going for it.

"I still feel like when I walk on the set, I'm starting from scratch,” Viola Davis continued, “until I realize, 'OK, I do know what I'm doing. I'm human.'"

There will always be disappointments, failures, and haters in this world. If you’re a human with a dream that brings you to your keyboard and words that keep you coming back to it, you are a real writer—none of this impostor business.

So get to work, writer, and may you wake up every morning to truths that soundless like fear and a lot more like Aibilene’s voice:

You belong here. You’re a real writer. Your work is important.


You belong here. You’re a real writer. Your work is important.~ Laurie Tomlinson (Click to Tweet)

Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author, freelance editor/social media consultant, and cheerleader for creatives. She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles.
Her novella, That’s When I Knew, is now available in the Love at First Laugh collection of eight inspirational romantic comedies, and her debut contemporary romance novel, With No Reservations, releases in May 2017 from Harlequin Heartwarming.

You can connect with Laurie on her website, Facebook page, and Twitter. She is also a regular contributor to The Writer’s Alley blog.


  1. Thank you so much for hosting me, lovelies of Novel Rocket!

  2. Love that, Laurie. I can't tell you how many times I've looked over my shoulder when a reader/fan gets all excited about meeting me. Because, me? Really? I'm just... But it's hard to imagine Viola thinking that!

    Thanks for sharing with us today.

    1. I have yet to experience that, but I bet it's surreal! Love that!

  3. This post is right along the lines with what I've been contemplating lately. I want to be a real person, not a pretender. I think we all need to find that balance between confidence and the doubt that keeps us humble.

  4. Thank you so much for this..As I launch fully into my midlife crisis I have frequently been anxious about calling myself a writer. It's hard for me to believe that people who have been doing this for so long feel much the same way..but it's a wonderful encouragement.

    1. Definitely, Vicki! I think the key is to push through that doubt and keep writing!

  5. Laurie - really powerful insights on a topic that paralyzes so many writers. Thanks for inviting writers into more creative freedom by reminding them that some voices (ones of fear, doubt, and disqualification) are never worth listening to!

    1. Thank you so much, Allen! Here's to replacing those voices with truth!

  6. Truth. Those voices, whether they think they are being kind or honest or whether they are mean-spirited and petty. None of them speak for God.

    1. Excellent point, Michael! God intends life for our writing because it's what He's called us to do!

  7. Oh girl, you nailed this one!! My favorite heroines are the countless ordinary women who've gone before me making ordinary things look brave and amazing by putting one foot in front of the other--writing one word after another. Bravery isn't knowing how things will turn out before stepping out, it's stepping out again and again no matter the scene or circumstance.

  8. I love the sound of your novella, and your heroine. I'm still trying to find the perfect planner ... ideally one that's smaller than the Titanic. No luck so far.

    My current project is giving me big-time impostor syndrome, even though I know it's the project God wants me to be working on right now. So thanks for the timely pep talk!

  9. Great post, Laurie. I also love the sound of your novella. Imposter syndrome is a common ailment amongst creative types.

    Thanks for sharing so authentically. We're all faking it, even if we do make it apparently!

  10. Fun post! For me it's not a syndrome. I know I don't write well. I think I just came across a good story... Oh, wait-
    Is that the syndrome talking? :o
    This will be an interesting year :)


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