Let my experience in the writing field be a tool for you to use in your own journey. Absolutely, when this pieces gets boiled down, it is about my analysis and opinion of my own experience. One should keep that in mind. As you know, I’m not super keen on advice on writing given online, because in many cases it is myopic and thus useless. But, I want to change that at the same time. There’s a lot of noise to cut through, but hopefully those in need will find this harbor.
This topic was suggested by a colleague in the field, and I thought it would be a good idea to go over the things that I personally believe don’t help us get ahead in writing. Will they kill your career, well being deadly the suggestion is that it is possible. In the very least, it could help you miss opportunities that you need to move forward, holding you back interminably if not addressed.
Let’s get started…
Seeing other authors as your competitors instead of your colleagues.
There is a lot to learn from one’s peers, and isolating yourself will assure that your learning is stagnated if not all together ended. Hubris should probably be the name of this sin. It explains the underpinnings of what is going on in the mind of the offender.
Being an author is to be a business. However, because it is art, the rules of business are skewed for authors. The interesting thing is that our consumers can overlap with other author’s consumers. Most readers will read more than a few books in their lifetime. So, you have nothing to worry about from other author’s. If you still feel that there are a limited number of audience members of whom you can have their attention, then you’re not understanding how the consumption of books works. Or, worse, your ego is telling you stories, like you’re the best and should sit at the top alone, and readers should only ever read your books. Well, that’s just ridiculous and foolishly impossible.
Other authors, such as myself, have a multitude of experiences that can help you get through the many steps to being successful. Becoming cooperative and friends with authors is healthy for your career. Do not forget to give back. It’s not a one way street.
Believing your writing is great.
Believing in yourself is one thing, but believing you have nothing left to learn is quite another. I see a lot of authors with misplaced pride in their abilities. Should you say anything to them about it, they explode! I can’t fault them for being upset about criticism. Us authors are very sensitive folk when it comes to our work. But, there are ways to deliver difficult information without inflicting widespread damage. This is why the first sin is so important to adhere to. Friends and trusted colleagues will help, and you know that their words are not meant to be an attack. The things they tell you are meant to help fix the issue and boost you up.
I’d call this sin arrogance. It’s a blind view of one’s work that insists you’ve achieved greatness. If such were true, wouldn’t there be a bidding war over your stuff by the big house publishers and film studios? If that hasn’t happened, and even if it does, there is room for improvement. Tuck that ego back and find ways to improve.
Belligerent behavior toward others.
Perhaps this stems from the frustrations experienced by authors. Perhaps it is just a personality flaw of the particular individual exhibiting it. Regardless, it is a trait that no one wants to have to deal with on the receiving end. Quite frankly, the person dishing out doesn’t like it much either (unless they’re abusive).
Do try your best to treat others with respect, and fake it if you must (do it for yourself). A bad attitude can lose you friends and that means both readers and colleagues making an exodus. I see this belligerence a lot. it usually comes attached to someone who views themselves as better than those they’re acting out against. That might be a clue to the fragility they are experiencing inside. Things to avoid are: commenting back to trolls, posting long diatribes on your social media calling someone out, even anonymously, and trying to lord/lady it over your followers. Writing statuses full of threats should someone ‘try you’ is counterproductive.
Don’t waste your energy on things like this. It’s truly not worth your time to address. You can ban/delete individual from your friends/followers, or block them. I’d recommend doing this before you start having a meltdown on your very public page.
Seeing only one path to success.
Has there ever been a single path to success? What worked for someone else is not guaranteed to help you in the least. You certainly can study successful authors to see how they came to that success. In the end, though, you will need to forge your very own path. That path will include backtracking and revision of routes. Accepting that before you start, and being prepared for it will help you cope.
This kind of perspective can keep you from seeing opportunities and thus keep you from the success you’re trying to achieve. Be sure to be open to different routes. A road that looks like it might lead away, or even backward, may in truth be the very one you need to take to get where you’re headed. Be willing to try new things. Repeating the same steps will just take you back to the same result.
Having a clear picture of what success should look like.
Similar to the sin above, this action can keep you from seeing opportunities and thus keep you from the success you’re trying to achieve. Be sure to be open to different visions. Visualizations can be very powerful in helping us achieve success. Even more powerful is knowing exactly what result you want from your actions. Knowing the end result provides you with a means to reverse engineer your route. Don’t ignore possibilities you discover along the way. Consider them carefully, and choose wisely.
For me, realizing I had succeeded took years to settle on me after the actual accomplishment. Certainly has helped me relax a little of the pressure I’ve been holding on myself, but I missed the celebration I should have had. I would not wish this on anyone. I believe we should be able to enjoy our success in the moment.
The reason it’s a deadly sin, however, is that if you don’t realize you’ve had success, how can you build upon it? You could end up spinning your wheels for years instead of forging onto the next goal. What if you spend your entire career in this state?
I hope these insights help you avoid the potholes on the road to success. In the least, they should help you be more aware of the negative behaviors we can all find ourselves acting on, and get moving again.
Here’s to your success!