10 actions that combat imposter syndrome

10 actions that combat imposter syndrome

May 12, 2020 By Adrienne Montgomerie Resources

My colleague edited with me for 14 years and still wouldn’t call herself an editor. I, myself, found I was saying “Why are editors asking my opinion?” Our mentor had to shake us and say “You are now senior editors!” After all those years, we still didn’t feel legit. We still felt like imposters.

The editor is, by and large, a shy and reserved specimen, content to stay in the background, toiling away namelessly while the cover art and font get praised in the front matter. But that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to feel legitimate! You are not an imposter. Let’s rid you of that idea now.


The more you do these actions, the less you will feel like an imposter. Of course, actually doing the thing itself is key.

  1. Maintain your resume—keep a list of projects.
  2. Take training.
  3. Save praise from writers, clients, and bosses.
  4. Save someone’s bacon.
  5. Start a study group in which you work through editing examples.
  6. Exchange work with a colleague and give feedback to each other.
  7. Look in the mirror every day and say “I am an [editor].”
  8. Pass an editing test.
  9. Get repeat work from a client.
  10. Start a #winjar. Put notes on all these points inside.

The win jar is an amazing thing. Watching it grow feels great. Reading them at the end of the year has made New Year’s Eve a heart-warming time. Checking in with colleagues is really helpful any time. Attend a professional meeting, peruse the online professional forums, go to a conference. When you look at editors you respect and start to recognize yourself in them, the imposter syndrome will lose hold.

Sometimes I still feel like an imposter, 20 years in now—when I edit in a field or product outside my specialty, for example. It’s an ongoing process. We’ll get there.

Photo by Braydon Anderson on Unsplash

This article was originally posted on on 5/7/18.

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