Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Writers
At the age of sixteen, I wrote my first novel.
After powering through an entire month of NaNoWriMo and snagging my hard-earned “winner” badge, I realized that it wasn’t the badge that had brought me so much satisfaction. Instead, it was the feeling of holding my printed draft in my hands for the first time. In that moment, I was a writer. I never questioned whether or not I made the cut. I simply got to work on editing and querying agents with hopes of putting my novel out into the world. Unfortunately, my first novel received rejection after rejection, but that didn’t stop me from believing in myself and my work.
Flash forward, four years later.
In January, I completed the first draft of my second novel and have labored through several rounds of edits since then. But now, after all this time, I find myself doubting my status as a “writer.” Why?
For reference, my writer’s Instagram account wasn’t created until eight months ago. Looking back, the absence of it made a tremendous difference in the way I viewed myself as a writer while drafting my first novel because I had no one to compare myself to.
Now, I find myself comparing my daily word counts, the length of my drafts, my creative processes, and so much more. I pin myself against those with more followers or more aesthetically pleasing feeds, which lowers my confidence and leaves me wondering if I’m doing enough.
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.
So, let me say this for all of us: your worth is not determined by your ability to put a filter over the harsh realities of being a writer. Even the person behind your favorite account, the one that seemingly has it all together, struggles sometimes.
Writing a novel is HARD. Editing and grinding through five or six (or more) drafts is exhausting. Plotting a novel from scratch, doing research on places you’ve never visited, and trying to get your duck-like characters in a row is an investment that many aren’t willing to make.
No one wants to be a downer, which is why it’s so easy to mask the struggle for the ‘gram.
As writers and artists, we’re all different, and that’s the way it should be. Some are able to write 100 words a day, while some may write 3000. Some color-code their thoughts onto highly-organized flash cards, while some toss their thoughts at a wall to see what sticks.
It doesn’t matter what your word count, draft length, or creative process may be. What matters is that you are a writer, and you are making progress.
So, hold your manuscript in your hands as if it’s solid gold. Give yourself a pat on the back. Then close your Instagram app and get to writing.
You’ve got this.