7 Ways to Deal with Imposter Syndrome

Do you ever feel like an incompetent failure whose successes have been a fluke? Do you fear that your inadequacy will be revealed at any moment?

I do. Whenever the feeling hits, I resort to one of these failsafe methods.

7 Ways to Deal with Imposter Syndrome

  • Make it stare at my last finished project. (“Take a good look. I SAID LOOK AT IT.”)
  • Take it for a run. (It often grows tired and lags behind.)
  • Challenge it to a dance off. (We’re both bad dancers, but Imposter Syndrome’s worse.)
  • Sign it up for the SpaceX mission to Mars. (Of course I believe the rumors. And as a bonus, I can watch the launch from my front yard.)
  • Read aloud from Moby Dick. (The chapter on whales puts it to sleep.)
  • Punch it in the face. (Right hook.)
  • Banish it with coffee. (Effective and enjoyable.)

This morning I’ve opted for the coffee.


In all honesty, I’m not certain that Imposter Syndrome is the right term for what I’ve been feeling these days. It’s more like a languid torpor brought on by the sneaking suspicion that this project will never actually end.

I know it’s a lie, but at the moment, it feels true; and whenever it’s time to work, I just want to recline on my purple plush chaise lounge with a bottle of smelling salts like a damsel in a Victorian novel. (Also, I want a purple plush chaise lounge. But who doesn’t?)

Have you found helpful ways of dealing with Imposter Syndrome? How do you motivate yourself to keep going when you feel overwhelmed by challenging work? Please share in the comments below.

Happy Monday, everyone! May your coffee be stronger than your uncertainty.

Ruth’s Extremely Helpful Do-It-Yourself Online Dating Profile Sample Questionnaire


Note: This post was originally published in 2015 on my former blogging site. It’s been refreshed and relocated for your convenience. Enjoy!

Recently someone asked a friend of mine if she’d ever considered internet dating and seemed shocked when she said she wasn’t interested.

I wasn’t shocked. I get it. Internet dating’s a lot of work.

Consider the process. When singles first join an online dating service, they’re immediately tasked with filling out long, tedious, one-size-fits-all surveys. Frankly, it feels a lot like homework.

Homework isn’t pointless, of course; and while the online-dating system does work occasionally, that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.

Perhaps one way to refine the system would be to spice it up by offering our own questions.

I’ve provided a sample set below.

Ruth’s

Extremely Helpful

Do-It-Yourself

Online Dating Profile

Sample Questionnaire

Your Name:

Childhood Nickname(s):

Your Age (select one): 

[ ] Old Enough
[ ] Older
[ ] Oldest
[ ] Benjamin Button

Your Body Type (select one): 

[ ] Hourglass
[ ] Anchovy
[ ] Chopstick
[ ] Texas
[ ] Yam

Your Personality Type (select one): 

[ ] Chocolate
[ ] Vanilla
[ ] Salsa
[ ] Triple Venti Vanilla Bean Soy Latte with No Foam
[ ] Turnip

You in a Crisis (select one):

[ ] Okoye
[ ] 007
[ ] River Tam
[ ] Mr. Bean

Languages (select all that apply):

[ ] Pop Culture
[ ] Logic
[ ] Irony
[ ] Math
[ ] Puns
[ ] Philosophy
[ ] Theology
[ ] Computers
[ ] Scifi
[ ] History
[ ] Fashion
[ ] Alternate History
[ ] Music
[ ] ¡Emotions!
[ ] Sportsball
[ ] Real Talk
[ ] Books
[ ] Drivel

Complete the Sentence: “I love long walks on  ____________.”

[ ] the beach
[ ] the moon
[ ] tightropes
[ ] the Dark Side

Your Sense of Humor:

[ ] Michael Scott
[ ] Lucy Ricardo
[ ] April Ludgate
[ ] Severus Snape

How would you describe your emotional resting state?

[ ] Solid
[ ] Liquid
[ ] Gas
[ ] Plasma
[ ] Dark Matter

You without coffee:

[ ] Lethargy
[ ] Stupor
[ ] Delirium
[ ] Angst
[ ] Selective Mutism
[ ] Vegetative State
[ ] N/A (don’t drink coffee)*
*Please abandon survey.

Select One:

[ ] Salty
[ ] Sweet

Select One:

[ ] Breakfast foods
[ ] Other foods

Select One:

[ ] Malcolm X
[ ] Malcolm Gladwell
[ ] Malcolm, Prince of Cumberland
[ ] Malcolm in the Middle

Select One:

[ ] Early Bird
[ ] Night Owl
[ ] Screech Owl
[ ] Ostrich

Select One:

[ ] Reading
[ ] Writing
[ ] Arithmetic
[ ] Swashbuckling

Name Your Ideal Man: 
Name Your Ideal Woman: 

Reasons you are late for things (select all that apply):

[ ] No real sense of time and space
[ ] You never write anything down
[ ] Wardrobe issues
[ ] Getting distracted
[ ] Getting lost
[ ] Netflix
[ ] Naps
[ ] Caught up at work
[ ] Trapped in a time loop
[ ] Stopping to help turtles cross the street
[ ] Different cultural understanding of time
[ ] Exempt (you are never late)

Complete the sentence: “There is no _________”

[ ] fear in love
[ ] business like show business
[ ] Frigate like a Book / To take Us Lands away
[ ] crying in baseball
[ ] try
[ ] spoon

Select a theatre:

[ ] Movie
[ ] Military
[ ] Surgical
[ ] Puppet

Music:

[ ] Playlist
[ ] Shuffle
[ ] Same song on repeat

Ideal room temperature (F):

[ ] 60-65
[ ] 65-70
[ ] 70-75
[ ] 75-80

The number of pillows necessary for sleep:

[ ] 1
[ ] 2-3
[ ] 5-7
[ ] 8-12
[ ] ALL THE PILLOWS

Documentaries:

[ ] Always
[ ] Sometimes
[ ] Never

Talking during plays/movies:

[ ] Yes
[ ] No

Eating in the car:

[ ] Yes
[ ] No

Sharing fries:

[ ] Yes
[ ] No

Stopping to ask for directions:

[ ] Yes
[ ] No

Disobeying the GPS in lieu of common sense:

[ ] Always
[ ] Sometimes
[ ] Never

Surprises: 

[ ] Always
[ ] Sometimes
[ ] Never

Best Holiday:

[ ] Thanksgiving
[ ] Easter
[ ] Christmas
[ ] New Year’s
[ ] Pi Day
[ ] National Battery Day
[ ] What If Our Pets Had Opposable Thumbs Day
[ ] The Festival of Sleep

Reading:

[ ] Yes

Travel:

[ ] Yes

Religion:

[ ] Jesus


So there you have it! My very own do-it-yourself online dating profile sample questionnaire.

What do you think about the concept? What questions would you include if you wrote your own? Let us know in the comments below! (You don’t have to be single to chime in: some of us could use some pointers on what to add to our own surveys.)

In other news, as of this posting, the e-book for Collapsible: A Novel of Friendship, Broken Bones, Coffee, Shenanigans, and the Occasional Murder is temporarily on sale for $1.99. Snap it up! Also, if you’ve already read and enjoyed any (or all) installments in the trilogy, could I prevail on you to leave a sentence or two of an honest review? Reviews boost visibility for new authors and help us build trust with wider audiences.

Plus, I’ll love you forever. So there’s that.

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope your day is fabulous. May your coffee be hot, your A/C cool, and your online dating profile anything but boring.

13 Signs You Belong in a YA Novel

Every genre has its clichés. Some you love; some you hate; all you find instantly recognizable. Young Adult novels are no exception to this phenomenon.

You can spot clichés on the page, but how good are you at spotting whether or not you meet the criteria yourself?

13 Signs You Belong in a YA Novel

  1. You hang out with a ragtag group of misfits.
  2. You wear hoodies almost exclusively.
  3. You have a precocious younger sibling in need of rescuing.
  4. You have a useless best friend.
  5. You’re involved in a love triangle.
  6. You have a complicated family situation.
  7. You have powers.
  8. Your lab partner is the mysterious new kid.
  9. You’ve inexplicably angered the school’s queen bee.
  10. You are misunderstood.
  11. You’re relieved when the apocalypse interferes with prom.
  12. You are totally average-looking yet secretly beautiful.
  13. You are the chosen one.

~~~

Do you read YA? Which clichés do you love? Which do you hate? Which actually seem super relatable because you’ve lived them yourself? Tell us in the comments below!

In other news, my BIG GIVEAWAY is winding down. If you follow me on social media, there’s no way you missed it (I’ve been super promote-y, #sorrynotsorry); but just in case you did somehow miss it: I’m giving away five books to five winners, plus tons of bonuses, including amazing hand-stamped aluminum bookmarks from Whimsical Words Studio.

Friends

The contest closes at midnight on Tuesday (July 31, 2018), so stop what you’re doing and enter right now. If you’re already entered, don’t forget to share. Every share and every friend of yours who joins earns you more points.

Plus, everyone who enters earns automatic bonuses. And who doesn’t love bonuses? Nobody, that’s who. So go get ’em.

Happy Monday, everyone! May your day be anything but cliché; may your chances of winning the giveaway soar like eagles; and may your bonuses flow as freely as your coffee.

What Writing a Book Feels Like

When people find out I’m a writer, they often tell me they have an idea for a book.

I nearly always encourage them to sit down and write it, because one fact that’s universally true of all writers is that there was a time before they wrote anything when they said to themselves, “I’m not a writer.”

The point of this post is not to tell you that you, too, could be a writer (although you definitely could) but to tell you what writing a book feels like.

That way, when the times comes for you to write yours, you’ll be mentally prepared. Because it’s not all sipping lattes and humming while pecking at the keyboard.

Oh, no.

It’s something else entirely.

What writing a book feels like:

  • Writing a book feels like running a marathon, only both ankles are sprained and your shoes are on backward and possibly untied; but you have no way of knowing for sure because you’re wearing a sleep mask. Also, you’re not sure how far away the finish line actually is, if you’re running the right direction, or if you’re even an actual registered marathon participant. You may simply be an imposter running down random roads hoping you’ll chance upon the actual course. It’s hard to tell. So writing a book feels a lot like shuffling blindly through a marathon you’re not sure you’ve actually entered.
  • Writing a book feels like climbing a mountain, only the mountain is made of glass. You’ve strapped suction cups to your hands and feet, but half the time the suction cups pop away, staying stuck to the glass and leaving you dangling dangerously (yet tediously) in mid-air. As you hang there, stuck, you half hope the last suction cup will peel away and end it all. At least then the choice to quit will be out of your hands. So writing a book feels a lot like attempting to climb a glass mountain with malfunctioning suction cups, half-hoping you’ll plummet to your doom.
  • Writing a book feels like taking a road trip, only you can’t find the freeway because you’re stuck exclusively on interchange loops. Every time you think you’ve chosen the right ramp, the lane that seemed to be soaring outward to freedom curves back and dumps you right smack in the middle of the tangle. You try listening to the radio to take your mind off things, but it will only pick up a station that seems to be your own voice shouting “Boo!” repeatedly. So writing a book feels like taking a road trip to nowhere with your only comfort the sound of you heckling yourself.
  • Writing feels like pulling your own teeth, only you’re using a pen and you’re pulling them out of your brain.* Also, your pen is a computer, so you’re actually using a computer to pull teeth out of your brain. So writing a book feels a lot like pulling brain teeth.

None of this is to say that you shouldn’t try writing a book or that the experience is exclusively negative. There are moments of sheer joy and excitement when the entire thing finally comes together, and it all feels worth it.

But to reach those glorious moments, you have to pull a lot of brain teeth first.

~~

*If you’ve been around for a while, you may recognize the “brain teeth” description as having first appeared in a post on my former blog. I don’t often recycle material, but it was too good not to share again.

But that’s not important right now.

What is important right now is that my BIG GIVEAWAY is still ongoing! I’m giving away five books to five lucky winners, plus tons of bonuses, including amazing hand-stamped aluminum bookmarks from Whimsical Words Studio. Stop what you’re doing and enter right now.

Apart from that, everything here is business as usual. Well, except that it’s church VBS week. So you know what that means: it’s only Monday, but I’m already running low on sleep and high on adrenaline.

I hope everyone has an amazing day and an outstanding week.

And if you’re currently drafting a book, may your coffee be stronger than your self-doubt!

5 BOOKS. 5 CHANCES TO WIN. (+ BONUSES)

Surprise! It’s a hot summer GIVEAWAY!

Contest Details:

Duration: Enter by July 31, 2018.

Prizes: 5 winners will take their pick of 1 free book from among Ruth’s currently published books. Winners will be announced on August 1, 2018, via e-mail and will have 5 days to make their selections and claim their prizes.

Check out my (3)

Bonuses: There will be small, regular bonuses in contest-related e-mails (so watch for those!), but the really exciting news is that two of the top five winners will also receive a bonus hand-stamped aluminum bookmark from Whimsical Words Studio, inscribed with a quote from The Proper Care and Feeding of Singles: “Friends know the patterns of our souls.”

Friends

See below for details on how to enter and–most importantly–how to win.

Important note: Our e-mail filters love us and want to keep us safe, but they don’t always know what’s best for us. After you enter, immediately check that contest-related e-mails aren’t being filtered into your spam folders. I’d hate for you to miss out on the prize announcement, bonuses, and special post-contest surprises. There are definitely lots of treats in store for everyone who enters, and I don’t want anyone to miss out.

Click HERE to enter

and reveal your first bonus!

Show Your Favorite Book Some Love – Bingo Edition!

Last week, my friend Emily Conrad posted a Bingo card titled “Show Your Favorite Authors Some Love” and challenged everyone to claim a row. It’s a good card, but it seemed as if a few things were still missing.

Me: If I did a personalized grid, it would say things like “Take book to church and foist it on an unsuspecting friend” and “Turn favorite dialogue snippets into a musical, which you sing to yourself and others until they ask you to please stop.”

Emily: I would LOVE to see the official Ruth Buchanan version of this card!

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Copy of Writer Bingo

I have done some of these but still aspire to complete an entire row. If you win a row, definitely film everything you do and post online so that we can all make fun of you enjoy.

Also so we can learn about the book you love.

Because that’s definitely what this is all about.

~~~

How do you talk up books you love? Have you found any successful techniques that don’t involve skywriting or potential public embarrassment? Spill in the comments below.

In other news, I’m pleased to have become a contributing writer at Faith Beyond Fear. My first post, When I Run from My Fears, went live this morning. Come by, say hello, and check out the site. Thanks to Alynda Long for the work she does and for reaching out.

If you get behind-the-scenes e-mails, you’re already aware that my book The Proper Care and Feeding of Singles is featured this week as an Amazon Kindle Countdown Deal. That means the book is on sale for $.99 from now until June 14, 2018. This is a great time to snap it up! (It’s also a great time to opt in for e-mail alerts. Don’t let the algorithm keep us apart!)

Happy Monday, everyone! May your coffee be as strong as your workload.

4 Reasons to Persevere in Running Even if You’re Bad at It

When I first started running a few years ago, I was really bad at it. Even now, I’m still only mediocre. Yet I persevere. I have four good reasons for doing so.

Reason 1: It’s a Quick Calorie Burn

This is the main reason why I took up running in the first place. As a writer who spends a fair amount of time in a computer chair, I need regular exercise. Running is quick, effective, and a cheap alternative to the gym, since the streets don’t charge me monthly fees to run them.

Reason 2: No One Punches Me in the Face

Before I took up running, I trained in boxing and kickboxing. Our coach eventually moved out of state, however. The class disbanded, I stopped sparring, and working out now no longer involves the danger of dropping my guard and walking directly into someone’s glove. I can say with some confidence that even a bad run beats getting punched in the face.

Reason 3: I Don’t Have to Be Good 

I’m not out to impress anybody, bring home trophies, or even beat my own personal records. In short, I’m not in it to win it. My goal with every race, every run, and every training session is the same.

“You don’t have to be good,” I tell myself. “You just have to finish.”

The funny thing is, though, I am getting better; but it’s not because I’m pushing myself or following some slick training program. I keep showing up, and the consistency pays off.

Reason 4: The Struggle Is Worth It

Running is difficult. Everything about it is a struggle. In the end, however, it’s worth it.

I feel the same way about my writing. It’s a struggle from beginning to end, and none of those daily writing sessions feel important or impressive. I keep showing up at the keyboard, day in and day out. I plonk down on my computer chair, open a manuscript, and give myself my daily pep talk.

“You don’t have to be good. You just have to finish.”

And, eventually, I do.

~~~

Training sessions and first drafts don’t have to be impressive to prove effective. They just have to be done!

Is there something you’ve been wanting to try but have been too intimidated or too afraid to start? Share in the comments below. Is there something you’ve finally started that you’d been putting off? Tell us all about it so that we can cheer you on.

You also may enjoy seeing how I worked some boxing and kickboxing exploits into my debut novel, Collapsible: A Novel of Friendship, Broken Bones, Coffee, Shenanigans, and the Occasional Murder.

Happy Monday, everybody! May your coffee be stronger than your yawns.