This rambling post is one I’d been meaning to write for a while, and then I read Katy Upperman’s fabulous post On Insanity last week,* which made me want to post it even more. One of the hardest things about being a writer is quashing the impulse to compare your trajectory with everyone else’s. Or what you think everyone else’s is. And on social media, we typically see mostly the big milestones that people reach: finishing a draft, getting an agent, winning a contest, selling a book. There’s a constant chanting of good news and big news for other people through blogs and Twitter and Tumblr. Well, yay! That is awesome. Good news for one is sort of good news for all, because it means that our industry is thriving and authors are creating and readers are buying. But the steady stream of “NEWS!” also presents an illusion, one that things are happening faster, or easier, or more frequently for other people.
The thing that I’m feeling all compare-y about lately is speed, or the lack thereof (in terms of how quickly I can finish a project). The more I tune into Twitter, the more I start to think that everyone else is writing perfect first drafts in four weeks, and still blogging, tweeting, and tumblring regularly. Meanwhile I am revising . . . and revising . . . and revising the same old WIPs. Which has been driving me slightly nuts. Honestly, I am kind of a slow writer, and I’m not a full-time one. That’s right–I know that the limitations on my writing speed are understandable–it’s not like I’m slow because I keep choosing to binge-watch Nashville instead of revise a chapter.** I get that I should feel good about myself for the solid progress I am making, at a pace that works for me. The fact that I’m steadily working and meeting actual deadlines is what’s important, right? Sure. But when I dip into my Twitter feed and the blogosphere, I kind of lose that perspective. I find myself thinking, You’re doing it wrong, slowpoke.
Writing’s not easy, and everyone’s struggling with something. Comparison is an unnecessary problem, but a difficult one to fix. Is the solution to avoid social media? I don’t think so: It can be a great, beneficial, stimulating, supportive place. If there’s a solution, I think it’s to remind ourselves that there is no right way to do this–write, tell stories, create. Or, if there is a “right” way, it is whichever way is working for you. Slow and steady can win the race. So can fast and frenzied. I love this post from The Kindness Project on making time, and this line stuck with me: “Kindness, like most things, starts with yourself.” Letting go of the need to compare–that’s also an act of kindness toward yourself.
From now on, I’ll ask myself: Are you doing what works for you, right now (while still keeping yourself accountable)?
Great. Then you’re not doing it wrong.
*Uh, at the beginning of May, actually. See? I am slow (and that’s . . . okay).
**Not that there is anything wrong with binge-watching TV once in a while, or specifically watching Nashville, which is a delightful show. Please do not tell me what happened in the finale because I haven’t watched it yet. 🙂