“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”
That is one of my favorite quotes from a very quotable man, and an excellent writer: the one and only Mr. Stephen King.
The excerpt is from his book, On Writing, and if you’re a novelist, whether aspiring or on your 20th story, then this book should become something of a bible to you. It’s paragraph after paragraph of inspirational quotes, practical advice, humorous anecdotes, and just about everything you need to inspire you to hone your craft and never give up. A surprisingly motivational read from the King of the Macabre, and yet it shouldn’t be so surprising. Because like every novelist before and since, Stephen King had to deal with rejection and feeling as though his writing was sub-par to his published peers. He too had to climb a figurative mountain to get to where he is.
I know I often feel sub-par to authors like King. A man who can crank out fully realized novels with finely developed characters and intricately detailed worlds just as easily as the head chef at a five star restaurant can ace a Betty Crocker recipe. Whereas I struggle for every idea, to finish each chapter, to flesh out scenery with as much finesse, to attempt to make you laugh one second while scaring the pants off of you the next.
Writer envy is a real thing.
And yet, as a writer, it feels good to know that even authors as successful as Stephen King went through the exact same thing. That feeling of not being publishable. That feeling that what you do pales in comparison to what someone else who just happens to be more successful does.
If you’re comparing yourself to others, stop it right now and let me spare you the headache.
No matter what you do, someone will always be better than you.
That is just a fact of life. But that doesn’t make what you create any less good, and chances are you excel at something that another person doesn’t. Maybe the writer you envy is fantastic at scenery descriptions, but you write the most kickass dialogue of anyone who ever dialogued. Honestly, think about what a boring world it would be if everyone excelled to exactly the same level at exactly the same time, with the exact same voice.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in that world.
Your craft is unique, because it’s written by you. Don’t let self-doubt keep you from writing that story you’ve always wanted to write, or seeking publication on that novel that’s been collecting dust in that locked office drawer.
In life, fear is the bane of ambition’s existence. Fear of failure is the antithesis to achievement. Self-doubt is that thing that motivates us to remain unmotivated.
And when that little Doubting Thomas inside your head starts to whisper negativity to you, just remember the words of Stephen King.
Until next time,