Letting Go of the Writer I Thought I'd Be By Now

Monday, September 02, 2019

There's a song that I really love that is called, "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again." The line I wanted to share with you all goes,

"Yesterday's a closing door. You don't live there anymore." (You can listen to the rest of it here).

Have you ever gotten caught up with where you feel like you should be with your writing? Like of course you should be published with a three-book contract by now. Of course your book should've been optioned for a movie already. Of course you should've won that [insert literary prize here]. Worse yet is comparing yourself to other writers who have achieved those things and thinking to yourself, "What's so wrong with me that I can't do that too?"

I think sometimes we get caught up with comparing ourselves to an internal benchmark. Sometimes that benchmark is someone else's success you strive to match. Sometimes that benchmark is from a childhood dream (that you are certain you thought you'd achieve by now). Sometimes those benchmarks come from our own favorite authors (the whole "if that author can do it, so can I").

If I could go back and tell my teenage self anything it would've been to focus on writing and finishing short stories. I would have told my 15-year-old self that short stories will help her get to know herself as a writer and figure out her writing strengths and weaknesses. Sadly, my 15-year-old self would have been offended at my advice and wouldn't listen to me. So, there you have it.

It's one thing to have dreams and goals. It's another thing to hang onto the disappointment those dreams and goals haven't happened yet. Growing up, maybe you thought you'd be a published novelist by now. And instead, you are struggling through the outline of a book you aren't even sure of yet. Or maybe you are struggling to get just one short story published. But you know what? There's no reason to be disappointed by where you are at right now. Sure, my former 15-year-old self may balk at the fact that I ditched that fantasy novel she worked so hard on, but she can relax in knowing that we're in a much better place writing-wise than we were before.

So today, appreciate your journey. Appreciate where your writing has taken you, because even the side roads that send us off into a ditch are lessons to learn. Because that's how life is, right? Things are either lessons or blessings. I may not be the published novelist I thought I'd be right now, but I am satisfied with where I am at. And I'm not saying that a novel won't be written and published one day but I promise to stop comparing myself to others and comparing myself to where I thought I should be by now. And right now I have a short story in mind I'd like to finish and another I want to revise. And that's a pretty good place to be.

Say hi to Nicole over at her Twitter account @BeingTheWriter or follow her book blog at The World of My Imagination.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Nicole--I really needed this post. I've been in a rut for weeks. I think your words and wisdom were just what I needed to get me back between the lines and out of the ditches... at least I hope.

I love the idea that things are either lessons or blessings. I I might be writing a WOW post in the near future that focuses on that idea. However, I will give you credit and give a link to this post... because that's how we Butt-Kickers roll. ;)

Nicole Pyles said...

Oh I'm so glad Sioux! And I'm glad this might inspire your next post :) I have been in a rut myself actually so this was very timely.

Linda O'Connell said...

Nicole, thanks for reminding us of this. Your advice, appreciate where your writing has taken you, is part of writer's growth.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I think that we often focus so hard on one goal (the unwritten/unpublished novel or whatever) that we miss out on other opportunities. Thank you for the reminder to take a deep breath and consider what we've learned and how far we've come.

Nicole Pyles said...

Thank you Linda! You are absolutely right, it's how we grow as writers.

Sue, very true! That desire can often blind us to opportunity!Thank you Linda! You are absolutely right, it's how we grow as writers.

Sue, very true! That desire can often blind us to opportunity!

Cathy C. Hall said...

I know I've shared my favorite quote here before: Comparison is the thief of joy.

Theodore Roosevelt said that a long time ago which just proves we humans--not just writers!--have trouble staying in our own lane and being happy with our journey.

I still struggle with the whole comparison thing, too, Nicole, so you're in good company! :-) (But good for you, figuring it out WAY sooner than I did!)

Nicole Pyles said...

I love that quote! And it really is true too because we lose sight of how far we've come and where we are at. I just hope I don't forget this lesson :)

Renee Roberson said...

It is so hard to get stuck in the comparison trap. I've been discouraged from my lack of fiction-writing progress but I try to remind myself that it's all a journey, like you said. I had to get life experience and practice writing and rewriting before the words flowed correctly on the page. It's all as it should be!

KAlan said...

Nicole, it was brave of you to share this. Often, I think, we feel that everyone else is exactly where they planned to be, and it might be a sign of weakness to admit otherwise. Your honesty is a comfort.

For me, I tried for years and years to land an agent, and, now that I have, I'm worse off than ever. I have writing that my agent has declined to represent, but I can't put it out there because our contract says so. Maybe the point of that is that there's no end to the journey. Maybe everyone feels there's a long way to go.

It's been years since I've written anything of significance, but your post has inspired me to allow myself the time away from it. I'm letting go!

Nicole Pyles said...

@Renee - Absolutely!! I often bemoan my "content mill" writing days but despite my regrets about that, I am very grateful for the writing practice.

@KAlan - Oh I am so glad you are inspired by this post! I hope that by giving yourself that freedom you are able to find a new creative freedom.

Kristin Lenz said...

I'm reading this a week late, but just wanted to say how much this resonated with me too. I have a quote on my desk that says, "Trust the timing of your life."

Nicole Pyles said...

Thank you Kristin! I love that quote.

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top