I don’t know if you’re familiar with Dianne Jacob, but she is a well-known food writer. Her book, Will Write for Food, has won awards and she has a blog with the same name.
I’m sure that few of you (if any) who read this blog are food writers, but I bring her up because her latest blog post has words of wisdom that apply to all authors. She brought up three harmful beliefs that most writers deal with. (You can find the full blog here: http://diannej.com/2014/3-beliefs-to-challenge-in-the-new-year/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+diannej%2FOeRK+%28Will+Write+For+Food%29 )
The three beliefs that she tackled were:
1. I am not a good enough writer.
2. Why should anyone care what I have to say?
3. Everyone else is doing better than I am.
I don’t know one single writer who hasn’t questioned her ability to write or create a good story. I do it just about every day. It’s those little voices of insecurity whose single purpose it is to make you afraid, hesitate, and perhaps even give up. Kind of like the Terminator. The challenge is to not believe those voices, to not let them talk you out of anything. Of course, that’s not always (if ever) an easy thing to do, but we need to find a way. Otherwise, our dreams will wither and die.
In response to the second issue, Jacob says that many people will not care what you have to say. That’s true. But there are many who do, and you need to focus on those people and write for them. Humans are a diverse lot, and everyone likes something different. The good thing is there are enough things in the world to like to satisfy everyone. Take me, for instance. I love doing crossword puzzles because I love words. Some people I know are addicted to Sudoku, those numerical puzzles. I want nothing to do with them. I’m not a numbers person, never was. Even looking at a restaurant check gives me a headache. Some people are completely visual and veer toward jigsaw puzzles. The point is that puzzles of many kinds exist to suit the tastes of different people.
As for the third issue, all I can say about that is that comparing yourself to someone else is pointless. The circumstances of your life and writing career are different that those of another, so measuring your “success” against someone else’s is not fair. Are you jealous of J.K. Rowling’s success? Well, just remember that she was living in her car and was “on the dole,” as they say in the U.K., before she sold her series. You can aspire to be like someone, if you want, but don’t judge yourself harshly based on their successes.
It’s the start of a new year, so let’s all make the resolution to go easy on ourselves and just create without the pressure of comparisons or the whisperings of inadequacy in our ears. You’re a writer? Then just write and tell the voices to shut the hell up and get a life.