Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
One of the things I often discuss with my clients is their writing and publishing schedule—making sure their manuscript due dates are spread out enough so they can meet their deadlines. This requires honesty and self-awareness from each writer, because they have to be able to realistically predict how long it will take them to write each book for which they’re contracted. In these conversations, I find writers sometimes look at what their friends are doing and think (for example), “She can write a book in three months, I should too.”
But that’s the surest road to making a poor decision. We can’t compare ourselves to others. We have to know ourselves and accept the fact that we’re unique individuals and our experience isn’t going to be exactly like anyone else’s.
Some people write a novel a year. Others need two years to get out a good novel. Still others write two (or even three) novels a year. Wherever you happen to be on that spectrum—it’s okay. It’s who you are. Don’t let anyone try to talk you into being something different.
The same thing applies when we talk about plotting versus pantsing (meaning whether or not you plot and outline before writing your book). It’s great to try different techniques, see what works for you. And it may take you several books to find your most effective process. But don’t try to be either a plotter or a pantser just because your friend or your favorite author does it. Find who you are, and be the best you that you can be.
Most writing teachers advise you write first drafts quickly with very little self-editing along the way. And yet… some people function better if they do a little editing, or even a lot of editing, in the first draft. Listen to good advice, but try not to compare yourself to others.
The worst kind of comparison is when we compare our success with that of others. It’s so easy — and human — to fall into the trap of pitting our book sales against our friends or competitors. Sometimes it feels like the only way to know how we’re doing. It’s how we “keep score.” But here’s the truth: there will always be someone selling more books and making more money than you, just like there will always be people selling fewer books and making less money. You will never get ahead, nor feel any better, by comparing your “author success” to others.
You have your own unique path. Your own processes, techniques and methods. You’ll have your own path when it comes to sales. There’s no single “right” way to be a writer.
Don’t try to be someone else. Just be you. Because after all, you’re the only you there is.
In what areas of writing or publishing have you been especially prone to comparing yourself to others?