One thing I always need to remind myself is that I’m not in a race with other writers to get my work out. Sure, I had that feeling way back in the day, back when I as naive enough to think that my manuscripts were good enough to warrant attention. I thought the turnaround was super-quick, that I’d have my byline and my comp copies in my palms within a few weeks. [Reality hit me pretty quick and hard, then.] And I still get that twitch of envy when I see writers I know personally or online, releasing new works while I’m still languishing.
Every writer gets that feeling. You want to be in the same race as everyone else, wanting to keep up and be One of the Gang. But everyone in that gang is already miles ahead of you, already known to readers, physical copies of books in hand, doing the signings and the readings at the conventions and book stores. It’s enough to make you wonder if you’ll ever catch up.
Well, here’s the thing: it’s not a race. Not unless you want it to be. You might give yourself a hard deadline like I did, to get that book out and away by a specific date, to have that physical copy in your hand (even if it is a galley or an ARC). But you’re not racing the other writers. Far from it.
They’re running just as hard as you are, tripping up at the same points you are, maybe even making it up as they go along like you are. Their race is not about who gets there first across the finish line, or who gets there the fastest. Their race is about finishing the race. To them — and indeed, should be to you as well — this race is a marathon. Running those twenty-six-point-two miles of hard work, revisions, edits, re-edits, re-revisions, meetings, sales plans, working on other projects in the interim, and aiming for that final goal of completion.
In the end, the only race in writing and publishing that a writer should be concerned with is a deadline. I had to remind myself of this for quite a long time, and once I finally got over that, I no longer felt frustrated that I was getting left behind, or annoyed that I was taking far too long to get my own work done.
One of the best ways I learned that is to take part in the writing community. I’m still a solitary writer that hasn’t joined a local writer’s group (and I kind of feel more comfortable that way — that avenue is completely up to you whether you want to follow it or not)…but I talk with other writers online all the time, I’ve met up and become friends with writers both beginner and pro. Once I came to the conclusion that we’re all in the same boat, that we’re all slightly frazzled and overworked but still loving what we’re doing, none of us are truly left behind. A lot of us support each other at all levels, because we know just how hard the job can get.
We’re all running, but we’re all running together.
[Images courtesy of Naruto, of course!]