The voice that will assure you you’re a fraud

By Milli Thornton

I’M RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of an experience of this nature: the voice that will assure you you’re a fraud. I decided to write about it now, while it’s searing through me, as a way to (once again) remind myself what it is next time it’s happening.

About a month ago I started a part-time job as a DJ on a local radio stationโ€”after a 33-year hiatus. During my teenage years, up to about age 21, I was a DJ on our high school radio station. A fun experience but that was a long time ago, and technology has changed greatly since then.

After almost a month on-air in my new position, I was finally starting to feel like I was hitting my stride (at least, for a newbie) when a couple of confidence-shattering things happened towards the end of last week. I spent the first part of the weekend trying to deal with my devastated emotions. The second half of the weekend was a lot of fun, I had no time to brood, and I felt somewhat healed. I thought I would be OK once I got back in the studio on Monday morning.

Wrong. I didn’t realize that the voice who will assure you you’re a fraud had taken hold.

As I did my voice breaks, the feeling worsened. I became 100% convinced I was a fraud and as soon as I was discovered, I would be flushed out and eliminated. An extremely uncomfortable and demoralizing feeling that skews things out of perspective.

I had to finish my work so I had no choice but to keep going. I finished my shift and went home to face the music. Every day when I get home from the studio I listen to myself on the radio to see how I can improve. Not an easy thing to do, but you get used to it. Today I could barely stand the thought of hearing myself. I cringed, waiting for my first voice break, right after Sting got finished singing “Wrapped Around Your Finger.”

Then something weird happened. There was no hideous monster doing my voice breaks. I sounded fine. I’m not world-class, maybe not even town-class yet, but I sounded fine. I continued to listen and, as the voice breaks went on, I realized I’d been duped. By that voice.

I’m still feeling a bit shaky and tomorrow might not be much easier than today was. But it sure helps to know it’s not me. It’s a lie. That voice is the only fraudster in this story.

Have you ever had this voice attack you while you were writing?

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Milli Thornton, writing coach and author of Fear of Writing

Milli Thornton



MILLI THORNTON (aka Milliver) is the author of Fear of Writing. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course and Unleash Your Writing!, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Milliver’s Travels and Screenwriting in the Boonies and coaches at Writerโ€™s Muse Coaching Service.

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10 thoughts on “The voice that will assure you you’re a fraud

  1. Lois

    I don’t usually hear that voice while I’m writing. It’s when I’m story planning that I get it, like my ideas are stupid and no one will want to read it. Haha! Story planning is incredibly hard. Writing is the easy part for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  2. Marilyn

    Not dead yet. ๐Ÿ™‚ Just may take you up on it and show up on your door step some day.

    Milli, I hope I get to hear your program especially with your adorable accent.

    Reply
  3. Marilyn

    Yes, sometimes I get that voice at 3:00AM! Way to go Milli! I would love to hear you too. I’ll bet you’re brilliant. Would it be on I hear radio or something?

    Big Hug.

    Reply
    1. Milli Thornton

      Peache!! So fun to see you resurfacing.

      That voice at 3 a.m. SUCKS! Feels even more intimidating in the darkness when there’s no one to talk it over with.

      My station is small and it’s not on I Heart Radio or any of those. Right now it can only be heard locally, here in Taos, New Mexico. (Come visit me!) But I’m going to ask the station owners if we can get streaming audio. Then you can hear me online. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  4. Leigh

    Ditto what Charotte and Carole said!

    But I know what you mean. That voice does pipe up sometimes during my writing, but more often it comes to me when I’m not writing. I know that may sound weird! It comes to me as I’m researching agents, and when I’m reading about other writers being rejected or even offered representation and book deals. That’s when the voice and the doubt come on strong, challenging my belief in myself, as in ” just who do you think you are to think you’re good enough to make it?”

    As you say, it’s important to recognize it for what it is, because it makes it easier to cope when it comes up. Then I can just experience the emotions – doubt, fear, anxiety – and allow them to pass through me and, eventually, out of me. And then get back to work.

    I’m sure you’re brilliant on the radio. We don’t have a radio (odd, I know!) so I hope I’ll be able to listen online soon!

    Reply
    1. Milli Thornton

      Leigh, I can totally relate to the voice attacking you when you’re researching agents, or reading about other writers being rejected! Or even reading about the success of other writers. That’s exactly the kind of stuff that nasty Gollumsesssss loves to get us on.

      I love the idea of letting the emotions pass through you. I’m trying to do that too. Though when I’m venting them, it can feel like I’m stuck in them. It’s so mysterious, waiting for that moment when some kind of transformation takes place and the Gollum is ousted.

      P.S. Gollum is underlined in the comment box as a typo. Take that, you nassssty little fiend!

      Reply
  5. Carole Jane Treggett (@cjtreggett)

    Milli! I admire you so for jumping into this DJ gig (I’m also a bit envious too tee-hee). While I was reading your post, a quote by Mark Twain came to mind: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”

    You are one of the most courageous people I know who consistently encourages so many other writers to be likewise ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    1. Milli Thornton

      Thanks, Carole. Your encouragement always feels so good! ๐Ÿ™‚

      As I was driving to the studio today, I was thinking about one of my approaches to 2014, which is to take more risks. That has become so ingrained in me now, sometimes I’ll take several (smaller scale) risks in one day without even realizing that’s what I’m doing. And the voice hates that. I concluded that if I’m really bugging the beejeezus out of that voice, I must be doing something right. ๐Ÿ˜€

      Reply

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