Comparing your writing to others is a fast-track to a killer case of the blues. Don’t subject yourself to this downward spiral; it’s a waste of your precious time. Concentrating on sharpening your craft, educating yourself and building a platform are much better uses of your effort. There is nothing I admire more than when someone is truly authentic in their prose. They sparkle in a library full of dusty volumes.
Tabitha King, wife of author Stephen King in a Writers Digest March 2008 interview: “I wrote before I met the man,” she says. “That’s one of the things he liked about me.” She may not be as prolific as her husband (and really, who is?) but she’s not concerned with comparisons of their style or success. “I’m just too old to care anymore,” she sighs. “I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do, and if you don’t like it, don’t read it,” she says.
Get over your past. Like a book you’ve just read, close the cover and put it on the shelf. Don’t expend a lot of creative energy on your personal history. Looking over your shoulder all the time gets old fast. Try living in the moment, or better yet, looking ahead to your future.
Don’t compare your present self to your past, or future, selves. Move forward at your own pace. Use your time in pursuit of personal excellence. Be willing to put in the work. The rest of the world will take care of themselves.
- Be (a little) ego-centric. Stop looking at what everyone else is doing and concentrate on making your writing its best.
- Be authentic. People can smell cow patties a mile away. No one wants to read stilted and awkward prose. Get real…real quick.
- Be willing to put in the time. Pour every bit of yourself into your writing. Hone and craft your skills until your product shines. Every hard-fought hour you spend working is worth it, in the end.
Don’t shy away from criticism, but don’t let it paralyze you, either. It seems everyone has an opinion about the best path to publication. There are more author stories than childbirth stories, it seems. Glean what you can from others’ experiences, but stay true to your own journey. Your gut will tell you the best way to go, whether it is self-publishing, blogging, large or small publishing houses, or simply a few copies for friends.
Although they are pretty, if there were no other flower in the world but red tulips, it would be a pretty boring landscape. My grandmother’s garden was a kaleidoscope of colors, overflowing with vibrant hues. I loved the randomness of patterns; it made my eyes jump and my creative heart sing. Don’t strive to be a carbon-copy of anyone else (or your former self). It’s much better to be an original you.