Neil Gaiman on Writing and the “Impostor Syndrome”

“The problems of failure are hard.

The problems of success can be harder, because nobody warns you about them.

The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It’s Impostor Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.

In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don’t know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there, to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn’t consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don’t have to make things up any more.” -Neil Gaiman

So see, it’s not just you.

Read the full text here: 

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Nicholas McDonald is a blogger, pastor, and author of the book "Faker: How to Be Real When You're Tempted to Fake it." He studied creative writing and communication at Oxford University and Olivet Nazerene University, and received his M.Div from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Lexington, NC, with his wife and two boys, Caleb and Owen.


  1. This was delicious! My guy has a clipboard, too. But he doesn’t ask the same questions . . . at least not ALL of the same questions.

    • Tim and Steve – mine’s my actual editor, telling me that he thought I was the right man for the job, but after reading my atrocious writing, has decided to fish elsewhere. But see, that might REALLY HAPPEN.

  2. Mine doesn’t have a clipboard. Just a wagging finger, and he says “People aren’t supposed to have jobs they like so much!”

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