I'm sure I'm not the only writer who is occasionally crippled by self-doubt.
There are so many ways to compare yourself to other writers and realize you come up short.
Just to name a few: Sales. Advances. Best of Lists. Bestseller Lists. Awards.
All of these are great ways to boost your ego when you are on the receiving end.
And ironically—or not—I have to remind myself of something that I am teaching my two young daughters: There will always be someone in life who is smarter, better at soccer, prettier, has a more beautiful singing voice and so on.
In my case, there will always, always be other writers who are more talented, who sell better, who get more marketing money, who are more loved, who get better advances, and so on, ad infinitum.
This is that time of year when you watch all your colleagues and peers being lauded for their talents and occasionally, if you are really lucky—Bless you, Alex Segura—your own book might make one of these lists and you are filled with giddy gratefulness.
But most of the time, for the vast majority of us, we won't make these lists.
That's when you need to remind yourself, "Keep your eye on the prize."
Last year, for the first five months of the year, I watched all my debut author colleagues get nominated for best first novel awards one after the other.
Then miracle of miracles, I was nominated. But I didn't win. And surprise, surprise, all was still right in the world. In fact, I teared up with happiness when my pal, Lori, nabbed The Anthony because she was so damn happy up at that podium.
And I told myself, "Keep your eye on the prize."
Earlier this month, for the first time ever, I had a small, very small, shot at making the USA Today Bestseller list. My publisher had put one of my books on a special promotion and sales skyrocketed. But not quite high enough. But for a few days, I held out hope.
And when I didn't make that list, I reminded myself, "Keep your eye on the prize."
The moral of the story is that comparing yourself to other writers can be deadly (or at least unproductive), so remember to keep your eye on the prize.
But what is the prize, you ask?
The PRIZE is your career.
The way to win the prize? Readers. And not just any old readers— readers who want to read your next book.
That is the prize.
Excellent post. It's so true. I'd also like to add another point: it's always fun to entertain yourself as you write. Maybe that's the luxury I have in writing books I want to read while still holding a separate day job, but I still hold it to be true.
Right. I guess it goes without saying that the prize is a career is doing something you love ...
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