It’s funny, I don’t even want to go into this topic, because I’m so over it. Which is great. I was stuck here for a time as an early days indie. But no more! It has been years since I stewed over the progress or success of another writer. I feel much better for the lack of these stressful comparisons. You will always find someone having a better time than you, if that’s what you’re after. But come on, you have better things to spend your time on. I know you do.
Each writer has their own path, their own lives, their own needs, and no one-size will fit us all. Comparing yourself to other authors — for instance, in the sales ranks of your books or number of review, or whatever — does not serve you well. These things gloss over a million details below the surface that will influence that writer’s path, and your own path.
You don’t know how long that writer you’re envying spent in just the uncertain logical circles you’re toying with now…how long they watched other authors have success while they toiled along behind the scenes. And if they got really lucky, and struck a popular nerve with their first book, you don’t know how long this ride will last for them before it comes crashing down and they’re left to deal with exactly the feelings you have, except their expectations are now rocket-high.
In short, you know nothing about what other authors are thinking and dealing with. The side of them that you see is likely not the entire story. They’re probably a lot like you, actually.
If your attention is stuck on the success of other authors, take a good hard look at your motivations there. Could it be that fear has you in its grip again? Could it be that the procrastination bug is biting in a whole new way?
Don’t focus on how other authors are doing — not with a jealous heart, at least. We all feel it creep in sometimes. But don’t let your focus stay there. Congratulate that writer whole heartedly and get back to work. That’s what they did for years before the success you see now, I can almost guarantee it.
Some writers lose major writing time to these thought patterns that say if you’re not doing such and such as well as so and so, you’re a failure. The mental spiral descends into thoughts of worthlessness, and quitting.
Don’t go there. If you keep working with a positive focus, you will have your time.
And then, often, it’ll be over. Brief, possibly glorious…but very few writers stay “hot” for long. Why worry about what bestsellers are selling? Is that hot and then gone career what you actually want?
So…back to the drawing board.
What is it that you do want?
What is it that you love?
What are you willing to work for?
What are you willing to give up to do that work?
Focus on your stuff — your production and work are what you can control. The more time you waste on meaningless comparisons, the less time you have for what you want to do. Don’t let that happen. It makes me sad to think of all the wasted potential as people feel down because there are writers more popular than them. Don’t let it be you.
You’re the only one who can make what you’re making. Focus on that. Keep your head in the game. Take pride in your growing body of work and your skills, which are improving all the time if you’re putting in the practice I’m talking about.
Enjoy crafting your stories. Joy, joy, joy. Follow the love. Make your work, as only you can make it. Don’t get hung up on that other stuff. Focusing on others provides no value and slows you way down, like deciding to drag an iron ball and chain down the path you chose following your heart.
Don’t make this pursuit hard. Celebrate that you have the opportunity to create, and revel in the joy. What you’re making is yours. Don’t make it about anyone else.
Celebrate the unique creation that you are, and all you’re creating in turn.
Don’t compare yourself or your path with others. Live your path.
…Now let me digress for a moment and say that I compare my strategy, in terms of business, publication, platforms, formats, and general practice, with that of other writers all of the time. I do so in an attempt to learn from others’ situations, and I always do so with an abundant heart and well wishes for everyone striving to reach their dreams in a world that is moving so fast around us.
Be positive. Don’t stress.
For a full list of Own Your Writing Career posts in the order they were written, visit my Writers page. I’ll be back with another Own Your Writing Career post next Thursday. Until then, happy writing!!
“Own Your Writing Career: Avoid Comparisons — They Are Meaningless” copyright © 2015 by J.R. Pearse Nelson