Sometimes when Novice Wordsmith and I write, we try and beat a wordcount bar; whether it’s the 50K of NaNoWriMo or some other arbitrary number, it’s a goalpost to shoot for.
For the longest time, I remember being in limbo between being a great writer and being a writer who’s better than all of the others. Reading turns into a pissing match of how you could outperform someone, and how you could get the attention of an audience better than that author. Writing turns into a competition instead of a past time or something you want to do for a living, something you enjoy.
It seems like one of the most fundamental lessons, to see every other writer as a potential teacher instead of someone you’re in a race with. When you take the competition out, it changes completely. You’re more relaxed about your writing, you take it in stride, you bury yourself in it and you do what you feel comfortable with. You’re more able to find your style and run with it than trying to one-up someone else or make a “Style to Rule them All.”
A lot of it came from when I was younger, writing in school and others telling me how well I did. Swollen ego can do that to you, and being around people who have written for longer and can do it better than you is an extremely humbling experience if you have that problem.
I forget what really happened to make me stop and reconsider what I was doing, but I know it happened in the past couple of years. Probably, I’m willing to bet it came from a talk with Friend about writing style. An attack of feeling too self-conscious about how I was doing or not doing, and the all too famous, “but this person, got published, I bet I could do better!”
There are literally several dozen thousands of writers out there, if not millions. Both published authors and unpublished. There will be published authors you read and think your skill is better than theirs, and unpublished ones who baffle the hell out of you when you find out they’ve never been published. It is seriously such a mixed bag, but don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Someone will find worth in your writing, if you want to get published. There is an audience out there.
It’s never about who you’re better than, but how you are, and how you do it.
Seeing others as someone to learn from opens new doors for you, to see what might work in your worlds or not, to test your own limits, to add to your vocabulary or your collection of ideas in some association. You go from bitter to supportive, wishing them the best in their endeavors instead of putting them down because you haven’t found your own success.
It’s so much easier for me to be happier for others, and that includes life outside of writing.
And so much nicer, not to get down about things. After coming to the realization that everything happens at different points in life for everyone, it became a lot easier for me to be happier. I know plenty of people think it’s a crock of shit to say that everything happens for a reason, but the phrase has given me a lot of peace of mind, and has made a lot easier to swallow in my life. Just because I’m not married or not popping out kiddos or traveling the world or working for a fortune 500 company or a world-renowned author by now, doesn’t mean I’m failing at life. It just means there are other things in my future.
Of course, it doesn’t mean sit around waiting for something to happen, it means: Make it happen, don’t let an inflated ego or a bruised one keep you down, go for it. Get up, dust yourself off, and keep going.
For those who think that you can’t make your dreams come true, maybe it doesn’t work that easy for you. At least, find something that does, and do it until you can’t stand it anymore.
– The Novice Wordsmith