We all have them…”the Greats” in our lives. As a writer, it sometimes becomes impossible not to compare yourself to other authors. To some extent, this comparison can help you to grow, to thrive, and to see the things in your own work that need some fine-tuning. But most times? Comparing yourself to other authors can be more of a hindrance than a help. I’ve been there. Lots of thoughts roll around in my head like…
>>I don’t write as quickly as _____________________.
>>I’ve only sold _____________ books in a year and ______________ has sold so many! What I am doing wrong?
>>____________ is such a great success and I’m doing the same things they are! Why aren’t my books taking off?
>>My prose is too clunky or too plain. Why can’t I make my prose gorgeous like _________________’s?
>>I don’t publish enough books in a year. Why can’t I be more like ___________________?
If you’re an author, I”ll bet some of those thoughts have rolled around in your head, too. Well, to all those thoughts I say, “SHUT UP”. Every other author doesn’t have the same stuff on their plate as you do. You might have a day job that sucks up a lot of your prime writing time. You might have four hungry kids to feed, teach, and play with! You might have an illness that keeps you from feeling “up to it” on some days. You might, you might, you might…
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should let any of these things mentioned above become excuses in your life, because they shouldn’t. However, you don’t know why ____________ writes so fast. Maybe they spend fourteen hours in front of a computer every day. Maybe they have no social life. Maybe they’re just more skilled and talented than you. It’s okay. Let _____________ worry about their work and YOU WORRY ABOUT YOURS.
I’ve definitely had to coach myself through some of those moments lately. I’ve been stressing about not producing work quickly enough. As much as I love writing and love being an author, I’ve got to pay the bills, ya know? Then it hit me… I DON’T WRITE FULL-TIME. Being an author is not my full-time job. I work full-time from home, but I have several jobs that I do during the day.
>> I’m a blogger (Unearthing Words and Gettin’ Pretty — both of which are for-profit blogs)
>> I’m the administrator, bookkeeper, chief editor, ad manager, project manager, and customer experience director for the graphic design company Maiedae.
All of those things keep me majorly busy with plenty of work (for which I feel SOOOO blessed!) So, I’ve learned to cut myself some slack if I can only publish 1-3 books in a year. I do have 3-ish jobs, after all. I love them all and want to divide my time among them accordingly! As well, I’ve learned something from this realization…Writing is still so much fun and feels like a “hobby” in some respects. I don’t always have that dark cloud of “MUST WRITE” hanging over my head. I do try to write every single workday, but I know it’s not the only thing I do that is putting food on our table. Other authors might ONLY be writers and might have more time to devote to it than I do. It’s ALRIGHT.
Learn to respect yourself right where you are. If you need to straighten up and make some better habits, great! Go for it! But do it for you, not because ____________ does it. Use other authors as an inspiration for your own productivity! Not as a condemning presence for your shortcomings or your differences.
Just be you and be the best you that you can be!