Stop Feeling Down About 2018

Saturday, December 15, 2018
I saw a great tweet yesterday while I was on WOW's Twitter feed, and it basically said that at the end of the year, everyone (not just authors, but authors especially) likes to list their accomplishments while looking back at the year. The tweeter went on to say that if we're reading these tweets and feeling down about our own year, stop. You will do great things in 2019.  I say: Yes! Yes! Yes! The Comparison Trap is the worst for women and maybe even more so for women who are artists. 

I've discussed on The Muffin before: what does success mean? Is it making six- or seven-figure salaries as a writer and getting on the bestseller lists? Is it publishing your novel after working on it for five years? Is it placing first in WOW!'s creative nonfiction contest? Or is it simply accomplishing at least one of those pesky goals you made for the year?

I don't have those answers for you. I know, I know--you're thinking: why am I wasting my time with what she has to say if she doesn't have the answer to this Most Important Question? I do know two things.  First, everyone's definition of success is different. And second, success and accomplishments matter very much to some people and not so much to others. I tend to fall in the second group of people, and I think it's very connected to the first statement about success.

My life tends to be a bit chaotic as a single mom in the sandwich generation (my daughter is 8, and my parents are 78 and 81) while working full time, freelancing, and desperately trying to finish a novel and start marketing my kids' books again. Plus dating and friends and all the stuff that goes with being the only adult in the home (bills, cleaning, trash day), I tend to think I'm successful if I manage to sell a book or two at a book signing or I continue to have Editor 911 clients or writers sign up for my WOW! classes.

So when I hear writers who are feeling down because they only sold 10 books at a signing or have traditionally published a series of books, but it's not on the bestseller list yet, I have trouble relating to these writers. I think: are those things really important? And then I tell myself: yes, it's important to them, and you need to support what is important to the people you care about. We are all in a different place--not just in our writing lives but in life.  Even more important, we all come from different backgrounds and have all traveled many miles in our own shoes. You know that saying: "Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes." (Apparently, that wise saying comes from poet Mary T. Lathrap in 1895.  )

My point is you look back at 2018, keep your eyes on your own paper. Don't look at what your critique partners did (celebrate with them, of course) or the debut novelist who climbed her way to the top of the Amazon sales rank or even someone who finished NaNo when you didn't. Listen to that tweeter I mentioned in the first paragraph. Stop feeling down. If you're not happy with where you are in your writing career, then create goals and routines to get there in 2019. Figure out what makes you feel positive and successful, and focus on that.

Here's to you in 2019!

Margo L. Dill is a writer, editor, teacher, and writing coach in St. Louis, Missouri. She has two WOW! classes coming up in January: Writing a Novel with a Writing Coach and Individualized Marketing for Writers. She is also finishing her women's fiction novel. To find out more, visit her websites to read her blog and to learn about Editor 911 services. 

Photo above "Do What Makes You Happy"  by Arya Ziai on 


Nicole Pyles said...

This is perfect! And just what I needed to read. I do that same comparison game but at the end of the day I do know I did my best and I keep taking steps forward in writing. I like what you said...eyes on your own 2018 paper :)

Angela Mackintosh said...

Margo ~ I love this post! I agree and think it's all about perspective. Sometimes I look back on my life (not just a year) and think I haven't accomplished as much as I'd like to; but then my husband starts listing my accomplishments, big things, that I've totally forgotten about. (We've been together for 20 years.) And I'm like, wow, I've done a LOT in my life--even more than most people I know. So when I look back on my year, I look at what I have accomplished and as long as I'm moving forward in a positive direction, I'm happy. I will say that 2018 has been challenging, but I've been more productive writing wise than I have in a long time. Now, I just need to shed my inhibitions and start submitting. I'm looking forward to 2019!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--Great post. I belong to a writing group that includes a prolific freelancer (Linda O'Connell) so I'm constantly comparing myself to her... and falling short. I'm in awe of her, but I can't do what she does. (I can't do Linda. I can only do Sioux.)

And then I compare myself to someone like Pat Wahler, who did such an incredible job of immersing the reader into an era and a little-known character (with her book "I am Mrs. Jesse James"). She has three new books out right now! She's a legit published author.

Again, I can only do Sioux.

I finished a draft of a manuscript (that I laughingly thought would be published by this time). However, it IS finished, and is poised for edits and revisions. I'm eager to work on a NaNo from 2017. And that's what 2019 has in store for me...

Mary Horner said...

Good advice, Margo for any creative person. It's so easy to fall in that trap of comparing yourself to others, but sometimes it helps me to remember that if I am feeling envious, or not good enough, that each of us can write something that no one else can!

Renee Roberson said...

I try to keep telling myself the same thing. I may not have found an agent yet (I'm still so early in my submitting!) but the reason I'm taking so long sending queries out it because I keep writing new stories and submitting them elsewhere. I'm in a new phase of my life where I'm discovering the beauty of writing short fiction, so I'm embracing it. I may not finish out this year any further to publishing a book, but I'm developing new ideas and sharpening up my writing in different genres. And it makes me happy! Thanks, Margo!

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