Tuesday, June 18, 2024

editors, proofreaders, and imposters...

After accidentally writing a book about imposter syndrome a couple of years back, I find that I keep being approached by people to speak about it at their events, or as a guest attraction for groups that regularly meet together (which is nice).

I've written these up where they've happened in the past, but am not afraid to admit feeling a little trepidation for the most recent 'gig', as it was with the Berkshire Chapter of the Institute of Editing and Proofreading (so a screenful of people who know how a book is supposed to look before it's published...). I'm not sure how well I would have braved such an apparently august body of professionals, were it not that I'd been invited by Louisa Ellins - not only a fellow BF'er but also equal recipient of the Non Employee of The Week award.

At the outset, some members of the chapter kindly shared the impacts that listening to the 'gremlin of doubt' (how I describe our inner imposters manifesting) has had on them - and whilst these were largely in keeping with what others have shared in comparable events, it was highlighted how it robs us of our confidence: which means that although we may find ways to press on and deliver our work and jobs, we don't enjoy the process as we otherwise might/should (which means we're unhappier, and therefore less of the complete person we can otherwise be).

The initial reflections from the Chapter after my 'turn' seem to circle around the importance of finding ways to better validate and assure ourselves that what we're doing is 'good enough'. Because in the absence of praise, or other affirmation from clients (and/or non-existent colleagues if we work freelance), we can quickly fall into self-perpetuating thought cycles that our work isn't good enough because hardly anyone ever tells us otherwise...

There were a number of practices that were shared as to how such 'positive re-enforcements' might be designed, adopted, and introduced:

- recognising that a client re-booking you is a sign of their happiness with your work (even if they don't say so...)

- the importance of defining what it means to be successful on our own terms (rather than trying to achieve the standards of others we may see in our sector or elsewhere)

- regularly celebrating each others' wins with peers (goodness knows, if we don't cheer each other on, no one else is going to!)

- and on those occasions when a project 'fails' or a client appears unfairly critical of our work, the importance of being able to find safe spaces with peers. This is to enable us to reflect on the experience to sense check how far the client may really be being unfairly unjust, and what we can best take from the experience into the future.

All in all, it was an enjoyable experience from my side of the screen, and I'm taking from how most reacted on their camera to different points in the event, that people found at least 1 thing in what I brought as encouragement, support, and reassurance.

And in sharing the book with a body of editors and proofreaders, I also started to think about how I'd written it in a way I'd never done before - I originally intended that the book should only be consumed as a physical artefact that people read with their eyes. But I'm aware that some people are hearing its words spoken to them, instead of reading them, because they're using a Kindle. Which starts to make me wonder how far the ideas and messages of the book are being equally conveyed if they're consumed by people in a different medium to that which I originally intended..?    

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