Many people who fall in love with the dream of becoming a writer do so without realising that a writer has one of the longest apprenticeships. We fall in love with the romantic idea of writing, thinking ‘after a few years I’ll be a great writer.’ As a writer, you are constantly striving to better yourself and never truly arrive at the mythical destination of being a great writer, because there is always higher ground to seize, and new ideas realised. At this point, many people feel discouraged and wait for their talent to be recognised by others. We wait for the world around us to recognise our talent and confirm our dreams and ambitions. We dream, wish, and feel discouraged, then the never-ending cycle begins again. The problem with waiting is, it’s passive, and there is only one way to wait. There are only two options in life, you can either choose to wait for confirmation or create your own opportunities. There is only one way to become a great writer and it is to start writing and keep writing. There is no waiting option with writing. Waiting takes you out of the game and places you on the bench in spectator mode where you fall prey to envy which leads to self-comparison and eventually insecurity.
Everyone at some point in time will find themselves envious of the talent of others. We idolise successful people in our desired industry, this is especially true of creative individuals. We see a relatively unknown writer plucked from obscurity and onto a bestseller list, and think ‘they’re so good!’ Instead of using this feeling to inspire and push ourselves to become better writers or to stop dreaming and start doing, we become introspective and start comparing our abilities against our idols, thus confirm a belief that talent is ready-made instead of cultivated. Talent is the result of hard work; especially writing talent and much of the effort that goes into nurturing the skill of writing occurs behind the scenes and, therefore, is unseen.
Very rarely do you get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes. A book on a shelf in a bookshop or a title on a bestseller list is one small fraction of the effort that goes into being a writer or author. The dangers of comparing your behind the scenes to the highlight reel of other writers are two-fold. You fall prey to unrealistic expectations coupled with disappointment, and more importantly you start living by someone else’s definition of success. How you define success is extremely crucial to the development of your writing talent or abilities. Success is not a permanent fixture in time; instead, something that changes as you achieve and grow. How you defined success three months ago will be different to how you define success today. Ask yourself, how do I define success? Am I taking active steps towards achieving this goal? If not, take the time right now to write the first five small steps you can take in order to become a writer or cultivate writing talent. It’s not important to see every actionable step before you start. The key is to simply start. Starting is what sets apart dreams from writers. When you climb a set of stairs all you need to see is the step ahead, you do not necessarily need to see every step in order to start.
Are you a writer? Have you been guilty of comparing your behind the scenes to the highlight reel of others? How has this comparison affected your self-confidence as a writer? I want to hear your story. Please let me know by using the comments box below. Thank you for reading, sharing and commenting with such kindness and enthusiasm.