When I tell people I’m a writing major, and I work at the writing center the automatic response is, “Oh! So you’re like, really good at writing?” My kneejerk reaction is never to say, “Yes, of course,” but that’s generally what people expect so I’ll say something along those lines. I’m guessing a lot of other writing tutors have been in this particular situation too.
What about when you’re not feeling particularly confident in your ability to write?
This past winter quarter was a rough one for me. There was one class in particular that really had me doubting my ability. For this class, we had to write summary-synthesis-response (SSR) papers based on class readings. There were four of these papers throughout the quarter, and each one required that I do very close reading and in-depth analyses.
For the life of me, I could not master the SSR. Each time I’d make headway in one aspect of the assignment, there would be another issue the popped up. I had difficulty focusing on arguments and creating clear connections between the readings. I felt like I simply could not write these papers.
Enter imposter syndrome.
While I was struggling to write my own assignments, I was coming into work each day helping others with their writing. While tutors at the writing center never tout the title of “Expert Writer,” that’s sometimes how writers view us when they come in for a tutoring session. That title can be hard to bear when your own writing confidence is in a bit of slump.
As a tutor, I try to give writers strategies for successful writing. Strategies that will be useful past the appointment and assignment we’re working on. As a tutor, I’m sometimes the second opinion that a writer needs in order to feel confident in their assignment.
Well, it turns out that it’s hard to follow the strategies you give out and tutors sometimes need a second opinion too, who knew?
By the end of the quarter, I was able to figure out the SSR and did pretty well in the class. But for much of the quarter, I felt like an imposter sitting in the writing center giving out writing tips and advice.
Has anyone else ever felt this way? If so, how were you able to lift yourself out of the funk?