Wednesday on Writing: And What About Those Other Guys?

Ah, writers. We are a tortured lot, are we not? We love to twist our brains and emotions into knots of self-doubt and fear. Nowhere is this more obvious as when we are comparing ourselves to other writers. Most of what follows is aimed at independently published writers. Traditional has its bugs, too, but I am focusing on those of us who do our own publishing. And all of this, like all my Wednesday rambles is my own opinion. Not necessarily right, or the only way, or even real. Just what I think.

“I’ll never be as good as Other Writer” This one is the nag that happens when you read a really good book in your genre. Many times, it is written by someone who has made a name for themselves, who gets blurbs and kudos from other known writers, whose reviews are sparkling and full of praise. And yeah, maybe you (or I) are not as good as that person. Now. What you have to remember about those people is that they did not spring full-formed from some Muse’s forehead like Athena from Zeus. What you see and read is the result of years of work, practice, writing, and rewriting. And discarding some things along the way. Added to a lot of hard work and probably a dash of luck. Don’t beat yourself up. Keep writing. Keep improving. Keep doing what you love (assuming you love it. If not, well, maybe that’s another post.) You might never get to the level of those big guns, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. Because that’s a sure-fire way of insuring you won’t.

“Oh, dear lord, how did this get so popular?” This is the opposite side of the coin. This is the book you read that is wildly popular. Everyone is reading it, praising it, loving it. Sales are through the roof. The sequel is the most awaited upcoming book ever. And you are sitting there thinking this thing is just not very good. And you know your writing is so much better than that. Again, you are very likely to be right. I know it’s happened to me. I went through all the questions, doubts, disbelief that this thing could be hitting top sales and ratings, and my work just sits there, unloved and unwanted. Again, not worth beating yourself up. Most of the time, this sort of thing is a whole lot of luck. This fellow just happened to hit on a hot button right when it first got pressed. And, unfortunate as it may sound, what I have found is that too many readers are willing to forgive bad writing and mechanics for a story idea that sounds good. I find that a little sad, but it is a truth. 

What to do? Stop comparing. To the better and the worse. It’s all relative anyway, and too much is subject to things like the Amazon ranking algorithms that would probably confuse a mathematical genius if Amazon let anyone analyze them. Fads, current hot topics, a good publicity program, all have influence. Study what the successful writers did. Copy it as much as you are able. Not all of us can invest is ad after ad after promotion across all sorts of platforms, but most of us can do some. And write. Write the best you can. Rewrite and polish until it shines like diamonds. Keep putting out quality. That’s your best road to, if not huge success, satisfaction with yourself.

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Do you like science fiction and fantasy? I would be very happy if you would check out my books and other stories. You can find more information about them all at the link below. Thank you!

My Writing

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