Ramona Payne on working from home

Ramona M. Payne’s latest reflection fits perfectly with my own thoughts this summer and is just what I need today after a particularly challenging home-based working week. Head on over to her website to read her five easy rules for working and writing from home:

Rule 1 – Don’t do anything during your at-home workday that you would not do if you were in the office. This means that I seldom do chores during the day, unless it is tossing in a load first thing in the morning, or washing my dishes right after lunch. You wouldn’t bring your cute lace undies to work and fold them on your desk, so don’t do that during the work part of your day if you’re supposed to be writing or working. Read more


This post is part of the Summer Writing Reset blog series, with daily posts Monday through Friday. Subscribe to receive full-length new posts in your inbox or catch them on my Facebook page.

Who do you think you are?

Part of my Summer Writing Reset has involved blog clean-up and sorting through posts for topics that I need to revisit. The following is updated from 2012. Also see my post on this topic at Psychology Today. Header photo credit: Ned Potter via CC BY 2.0

Who do you think you are? It seems a simple question, but what if we add some emphasis and a couple of words at the beginning and end: Just who do you think you are, anyway?

“Just this morning I could feel that old ‘imposter syndrome’ lurking. There are so many brilliant people … doing such wonderful things that at times I feel totally overwhelmed by my lack of ability to contribute and feelings that what I can do is not good enough and will never measure up.” ~ Sue Luus

Having had the delight of meeting and spending some time with Sue, I am (but should not be) surprised at her self-doubts. Such fears cannot be glimpsed from the outside. In fact, my experience has been that often the very people who seem to others to be the most self-confident struggle mightily with fears of not measuring up and having “fooled” everyone. When they do admit to their inner demons, friends and co-workers might react with disbelief or even thinly concealed joy that “even she has problems, too.”

What is the Impostor Syndrome? According to Dr. Lee Anne Bell, those experiencing Impostor Syndrome “doubt their competence, downplay or dismiss their abilities, and subscribe to the disabling belief that they are impostors or fakes or frauds” (Lee Anne Bell, “The Gifted Woman as Impostor,” Advanced Development Journal 2, Jan., 1990, p. 55-64).

Here are some further readings for anyone who wants to learn more:

It’s easy to see what is bad about the Impostor Syndrome. At its most tragic, it can lead to unmitigated despair, even suicide. But is there another aspect to this common problem that might be more positive or even offer potential for growth?

In her article “The Gifted Woman as Impostor,” Bell suggests that the Impostor Syndrome may serve as a “critique and alternative vision” of traditional views of solitary success. She writes, “I now see a very positive impulse that underlies women’s discomfort with achievement.” Rather than a call to tattoo our awesomeness on our foreheads for all the world to see, our discomfort might be a nudge to redefine “the meanings of competence, success, and failure as terms that are embedded in connection and mutual support” (p. 63). In other words, the Impostor Syndrome is a symptom telling us that something needs to change. We can ask ourselves not just who we think we are, but who we want to be. Not just whether we want to succeed, but how we want to succeed in a way that is authentic, that has integrity, and that we can live with comfortably.

In a Forbes article from earlier this year, “The Upside of the Impostor Syndrome: Lessons from Women in Tech,” Tara-Nicholle Nelson writes of how feeling like an impostor may be a sign that we are finally aiming high enough, a growing pain that we can embrace rather than resist:

“Know that it’s coming, anticipate it, feel it – even lean into it and sit with it for awhile, instead of fighting it –  it will go away faster that way. But approach your new frontier with a clear plan of action, and then absolutely refuse to be moved, deterred, slowed down or stopped by any Imposter Syndrome symptoms that come.

In fact, do the opposite – build a note into your roadmap that reminds you that Imposter Syndrome symptoms are a signpost that you’re moving in the right direction: into a new, expansive realm of possibility.”

My own experience is informed by all of these views. I definitely can benefit from viewing myself and my work with more objectivity and compassion and placing less emphasis on others’ reactions and opinions (perceived or real). At the same time, I know that I feel the Impostor Syndrome when I engage in social media and other self-promotion strategies that leave me feeling unauthentic. Do I plow ahead anyway in an attempt to crush those self-doubts once and forever? Or do I use the discomfort as a guide to change my approach, to play by my own rules that allow me to feel more “me” and less “not me”? It’s a continual work in progress.

  • What is your experience with feeling an impostor?
  • How do you keep from being paralyzed by self-doubts?
  • Is the Impostor Syndrome ever a sign that you are on the right track or a call for personal change?

This post is part of the Summer Writing Reset blog series, with daily posts Monday through Friday. Subscribe to receive full-length new posts in your inbox or catch them on my Facebook page.

Allowing ourselves to be seen

Following up on Monday’s post regarding perfectionism, this 2010 TEDx talk from Brené Brown on vulnerability and the courage to allow ourselves to be seen—and for our words to be read—seems particularly useful.

“The only people who don’t experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or connection. No one wants to talk about it, and the less you talk about it, the more you have it. What underpinned this shame, this ‘I’m not good enough,’ — which, we all know that feeling: ‘I’m not blank enough. I’m not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, promoted enough.’ The thing that underpinned this was excruciating vulnerability. This idea of, in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.”


This post is part of the Summer Writing Reset blog series, with daily posts Monday through Friday. Subscribe to receive full-length new posts in your inbox or catch them on my Facebook page.

The Myth of the Ideal Writing Time and Place

“Perhaps the lesson is this — put aside the notion of an ideal time and place to exercise your craft. Just write wherever you are, whenever you can. If you have a routine, a sacred space or anything else that lends to your writing experience, good. But when you get down to it, writing is about putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, whenever, wherever you can.” ~ Victoria C. Slotto


DIY Summer Writing Retreat graphicThis post is part of the DIY Summer Writing Retreat blog series, with daily posts Monday through Friday. Subscribe to receive full-length new posts in your inbox or catch them on my Facebook page.

Why you don’t write (link to article by Laura Tong)

Nothing I can write today could be better than Write to Done‘s editor Laura Tong‘s piece “How To Find the Courage To Become an Unstoppable Writer.” (From Laura’s bio: “Learning to say ‘no’ to the unimportant things to free up time to write is one of the key elements she learned to being a successful writer.”)

Why you don’t write.

Look, I know you’re struggling just to get your butt in the chair. Struggling to find the time in between work, family, chores and life, to write.

Struggling to stop answering emails or going on Facebook. Because before you know it, it’s 2 hours later and you haven’t written a single word.

But it goes deeper than that, doesn’t it?

You’re struggling daily with that little voice in your head. The one that keeps telling you that everything you want to tell, has already been written and told.

That whatever goes down on the page won’t be good enough. That you don’t know why you’re even bothering to try writing, let alone dream of making it a proper job. That you feel like you’re playing at writing.

Read the full post


DIY Summer Writing Retreat graphicThis post is part of the DIY Summer Writing Retreat blog series, with daily posts Monday through Friday. Subscribe to receive full-length new posts in your inbox or catch them on my Facebook page.