Welcome to Monday Musings, where I ponder some aspect of writing that has popped into my head over the last week or so. These posts aren’t intended to provide answers, they are more just a brain-dump that perhaps might generate discussion. This week I wanted to talk about the quote “Don’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter twenty”, which I think I first saw on a fitness site somewhere, but which I have to keep reminding myself of in terms of writing.
I’m a slow writer. Ideas don’t come to me quickly, and when they do, they take a lot of time to evolve into something that works as a full-length book. Those who follow this blog will remember when I turned Memories and Magic on its head in mid-2017, after nearly 12 months of work on it. And that work evolved from Operation: Sugarplum, a short retelling of The Nutcracker that I started back in 2013. A More Complicated Fairytale took three years from conception to publication, though a lot of that was because I kept freaking out about things and putting them off.
In times like that, it’s hard not to compare myself to other authors, plenty of whom I am friends with, either “in real life” or through my blogging circles. Some manage to go from conception to publication in six months. Others may take longer with their full-length works, but in the meantime, they are publishing short stories in anthologies. Some people have dozens of reviews on their published works. When I look at that, it’s tempting to write myself off completely. I might never achieve any of that, so why even bother?
[This is the bit where I go into a writing funk where I want to write (or at least claim to), but every time I sit down, I do nothing but stare into the blank-page void.]
Then I find some characters to be excited about, or I finally figure out that plot-hole, or I get on a role and write 1000 words every day for a week, and there’s that question answered. I can only do what I can do. I know that I’m a good writer and that if I keep working at it, I’ll get there one day. If ony it were easy enough to remind myself of all of that when these comparisons get me down.
How about you? Do you have any coping mechanisms for dealing with this? Let me know!