Keeping Your Eyes to Yourself by Lydia Kang
I probably sound like your grade school teacher. I’m not talking about cheating. I’m talking about something that’s horribly detrimental to your writing:
Comparing yourself to other authors.
You know you’ve done it. I have! Maybe you’re one of those people who gets super-energized and motivated by other authors’ successes. Great! This post is for everyone else. :)
Because here’s the thing. All that time you might spend wondering about other book deals, or how may best-seller lists some book is always on, or why you’re not as prolific as Author X, you’re not writing.
Not only are you not writing, but you’re taking little pecks of confidence away from yourself when you need it the most. It’s disheartening and can seriously cripple your muse. I remember what it was like when I wrote my first YA books. I’d have inner monologues that sounded like this:
“Man, I still have 30K more words to write. And what I have down already is so flawed! The revisions are going to take forever! Look, Author X just queried her book and got five offers of representation. I’m so many months away from querying! What if I don’t get any requests and this is all for nothing?” **flails**
Those frustrations made it very tempting to rush my writing, do a quick spackle job on my revisions, and force my book prematurely out into the world. Even now that I have an agent, a wonderful publishing house, and a book about to come out, those comparison demons still lurk on my shoulder, threatening to undo my productivity.
Someone will always have a better deal, better reviews, a more stunning story about getting an agent. But then again, there are likely people who may look at you and be jealous of what you’ve done in your own writing career, no matter how new you are to it.
So my advice to you?
Control what you have power over—your own writing. Remember that you and only you can write your story.
Several years ago at Thanksgiving, my kids pulled on a wishbone and it broke like this:
I had a revelation when it broke this way. Why should one person’s dream come at the sacrifice of another, especially in a creative endeavor like writing?
It shouldn’t. And it doesn’t.
In publishing, there is a lot of room for a lot of books. If you look at how many books were published in just 2013, it’s enormous. There is traditional publishing, small press, self-pubbing...so many ways to get your work out there tailored to what publishing career you wish to have.
When you compare yourself to other authors, there is this innate assumption that causes the bad feeling—what they have is what you don’t. And that’s not necessarily true. Because at the core, at its purest level, you have the same thing: the love of a story that you are compelled to create.
So whenever I start looking sideways at what other authors have and I don’t, I remember that wishbone. Mentally, I wish them well. I take a huge breath and let go of my jealousy to remember: Their success does not subtract from mine. Then I immerse myself in my work and give it my full attention.
My story deserves it, and so do yours.
About The Author
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About The Book
When a crash kills their father and leaves them orphaned, Zel knows she needs to protect her sister, Dyl. But before Zel has a plan, Dyl is taken by strangers using bizarre sensory weapons, and Zel finds herself in a safe house for teens who aren’t like any she’s ever seen before—teens who shouldn't even exist. Using broken-down technology, her new friends’ peculiar gifts, and her own grit, Zel must find a way to get her sister back from the kidnappers who think a powerful secret is encoded in Dyl’s DNA.
A spiraling, intense, romantic story set in 2150—in a world of automatic cars, nightclubs with auditory ecstasy drugs, and guys with four arms—this is about the human genetic “mistakes” that society wants to forget, and the way that outcasts can turn out to be heroes
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