I had a conversation the other evening with a fellow member of my writers’ group. We were discussing the consequences of being “slow writers,” which we both are. She’s about to release her first novel and was lamenting about how long it took her to get it done. I replied that she should keep in mind how long it took me to write mine—close to 20 years.
Then she said that when she looks at my stuff, I appear so prolific. I said, “What are you talking about? I released one novel two years ago. Compared with other authors, that’s pathetic.”
Then she said, “But you do so much other stuff.”
This has been a topic of conversation a lot lately, not just with me but with others as well. And I’ve seen some other writers blog about it. It would seem that everyone is comparing themselves to each other.
This is bad. Very, very bad. There are so many reasons why writers are able to release different volumes of work, and everyone’s life is different. To compare ourselves is to put expectations on ourselves that may not only be unrealistic but very likely unfair.
For those of you who compare yourselves to other writers, ask yourself how you are different from them, or how your life differs from theirs. You may not know that answer, but you may ask yourself some questions that might help you understand yourself better. For example, does the other author have a full-time job? Does she have children? Or aging parents? Does she have a spouse who can support her while she writes full time? Does she take the time to write quality work? Or is she blathering all over the page, just pumping out crap, and publishing it herself? Is she allowing an editor to review her work?
Then ask yourself the same questions. If what you come up with amounts to a full and busy life, then stop all the comparisons. It doesn’t do any good. Me complaining about how I can’t write as much as so-and-so doesn’t change anything in my life. The circumstances of my life remain the same.
I just found it interesting that my friend thinks I’m prolific. I guess it’s all relative. To her, I’m prolific. Compared to some authors, I’m a lazy bum. But none of that changes either my life or my friend’s life. So the best thing that both of us can do is just write, and when we’re done, we’re done.