Get on with writing and forget about the rest

We all do it, whether we mean to or not, and social media is our worst enemy. We all compare ourselves to others, how we’re progressing in relation to them, whether as writers someone else is published, sold more books, got more shortlists, likes and comments on their posts etc.

I’m thinking about a post for next week about how we really need to think about what we want to do with our fiction because that’s central, what we want to achieve with our writing, our sentences, our ideas. Everything else is noise, so much of people’s perceived worth/talent depends on the zeitgeist, social norms, the in-thing, culture, visibility and who has the power and voice in the arenas that are seen as important. We want to find a clear path and say if we do x and y we’re going to make it. But it’s not that straightforward, the world is chaotic and while we can steer as true a path through as we can, there are a whole lot of waves and sharks that might change things one way or another.

Author and blogger Iain Broome says it best this morning and with terrific humour. How many of us sighed at the Granta best 20 under 40, especially those of us for whom 40 is a lovely landmark we’ve sailed by. Iain Broome says the green eyed monster is normal but that the main thing is to keep writing and making our work the best we can. In psychology it’s called intrinsic motivation and it works far better than the outside kinds like rewards (tho’ a nice award wouldn’t go astray!) Listen here on youtube to Iain’s uplifting and true discussion on our green eyed monsters and about staying true to the words.

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6 comments

    1. Don’t beat yourself up about it, we all need some mindless surfing from time to time :-) Iain’s video made me smile and feel more energetic about my efforts so that has to be worth it!

  1. Thanks for the link Alison. It’s hard, and possibly unnatural, not to think about our own writing (and how well we apply ourselves to our writing) compared to others. It’s OK to look but I guess we shouldn’t stare.

  2. Author envy?! Oh, don’t — we’re a competitive society and it’s a nonsense, because the person who wrote the perfect book is always going to meet the person who wrote the perfect poem, and if they are the envious sort, that then becomes miserable rather than wonderful. I can’t compare myself to anyone else, I hate the thought, they’d be better than me at everything, or worse. Either way, it’s awkward. What do you do? Bow before their greatness? Or if you’re on top, do you monitor every word for potential patronisation, or cobble together a batch of modesty and self-deprecate your way back down to their level? What if you overshoot and they end up thinking they’re better than you — then you have subjectivity clashes and Dunning-Kruger embarrassments — it’s all just one big slippery tube to the counselor’s chair. And what if the counselor is prettier than you, what then? Doom. :P

    1. Terrific, I love your good sense! What’s a Dunning-Kruger embarrassment or should I be envious of you cos I don’t know. :)

      1. The Dunning-Kruger effect is when someone thinks they’re good at something only because they’re too inept to realise how bad they are. It’s the rung below being crap and knowing it. (These are the depths at which I lurk, it’s very sad.)

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