As the year gets off to a running start, I’ve already noticed signs of resolution stress. I’ve heard from fellow creators who have a long list of lofty goals and plans for the new year. A couple of them have had some set-backs and are already complaining about missed progress.
I personally don’t think the problem lies with the resolution but being overwhelmed by the type of resolutions we set. My writing colleague, Christine and I were having this discussion a few days ago when writers we knew kept comparing their progress. That’s a danger zone. One writer’s success or progress may not be another’s.
Resolutions should also be small accomplishable steps towards a bigger goal. They should be measurable. Saying I want to be a published author may not be the best idea if you’re just now starting out. However, a more measurable goal might be finishing your first novel/draft. Editing. Sending works out to agents/publishers (if that’s your route).
The danger in comparing your creative juices to others is that you’re always looking, and can seldom take pleasure in where you are or find joy in what you’ve achieved. That’s no way to nurse your creative juices. Second, no one ever got to success by worrying about what other people think.
Jeff Haden, in his article, Oprah Winfrey says 1 decision Separates People Who Achieve Success From Those Who Only Dream, says it best. If you haven’t read his post, I suggest you do.
“Worrying about what other people think
Whenever you try something new, whenever you try something other people are afraid to try, they’ll talk about you.
And not in a nice way.
The only way to keep other people from criticizing or judging you is to do only what other people do. But that means you’ll be only as successful as they are.
And only as happy as they are.
Instead of worrying about what people say, be glad they’re saying it — because that means you’re on the right track.
A lot of us get caught in this web of other-peoples-opinions as if our inner critic is not enough.
Jeff also says another bad habit that keeps us from success is,
“Worrying about perfection
It’s natural to afraid to be “done.” When we’re done, our idea or plan or product or service has to sink or swim — and the last thing we want it to do is sink.
But ideas, plans, products, or services can never swim if we never launch them.
Do the best you can, and then, as Seth Godin says, ship. If it’s not perfect, you can fix it. If it doesn’t work, you can try something else — and will have learned from the experience.”
When I think of other writers and how ‘great they are,’ I remind myself that they didn’t get to success overnight. They paid their dues, put in the elbow grease, and honed their skills. Some also have a team who are invested in their success (good editors, family support, beta readers etc.). I didn’t mention publishers, because for most of us, big publishers aren’t invested in nurturing/building our brand and careers. It’s up to us to be stead-fast, prioritize, and kick bad habits if we want a successful writing career.