Have you ever walked around a bookstore and seen how many books there are out there?
(Okay, I know. Stupid question. If you’re anything like me, you’d be happy to live in a bookstore.)
Anyway, there are tons. Too-many-to-choose-from-and-I’m-going-to-go-broke-tons.
As an author, it can be really discouraging to see how many people are already writing books. You’d think it would be encouraging. After all, if that many people are getting published, there’s always room for more, right? It doesn’t always feel that way. Sometimes, it feels more like that space in the world is already occupied, and I should just quietly back away and walk on to a safer, more reliably lucrative career. (I’m looking at you, accounting. *Shudder.*)
You know what else makes it easy to feel this way? Social media. Have you ever seen how many people are living perfect, polished, Pinterest- and Instagram-worthy lives? Almost as many people as there are books! Maybe more! (Probably more. We sure like to pretend, don’t we?)
When I first started my writing and blogging career, I was encouraged, driven, and motivated. I knew I could do it, and I was itching to start. I spent so many spare moments working on books and blog posts, imagining how inspired other would be by my completely original ideas.
Then came the Internet.
It became almost impossible to check Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook without coming face to face with so many other women who were already living my dream. Meanwhile, I continued to struggle. It became pretty clear that the Internet — the place that now made it more possible for writers to be successful — also had the potential to be my biggest downfall as a writer.
But hold on. Wait a second. Did I really feel threatened by other women who, just like me, were pursuing their goals and doing what they loved? It didn’t take me long to realize I had it all wrong. I didn’t need to look at other authors as competition. I needed to look at them as inspiration.
Reasons to reject competition and embrace your tribe:
- You’re more similar than you realize. If your goals are fundamentally the same, then you already have something in common. There’s something unique about writers (and all creatives) who dedicate themselves to writing their books, performing their songs, building their businesses, and making their art. It’s much easier — though much less rewarding — to take the safe, predictable path.
- You’re more diverse than you realize. I absolutely love connecting with other authors, no matter what kinds of books they write. Even similar authors have different hobbies, day jobs, lifestyles, families, cats. (I always notice the cats.) I’ve always been interested in learning how other women balance their lives while still doing what they love.
- You need support. You do. I promise. Oh, you already knew that? That didn’t take long, did it? It sure didn’t take long for me to realize I needed other writers and authorpreneurs to offer advice, encouragement, and camaraderie. Especially when dealing with the darker sides of creativity, like rejection and discouragement.
- You can give support. Sometimes this feels just as good as getting support. When you experience trials, they become tools in your arsenal. You can use them to help others who go through similar things. The more you learn as an author, the more you can offer to others who want to write books, too.
- You’re in this together. It’s true. We’re all in this together. (Cue music and flashy lights! Dance! Pretend I didn’t just quote High School Musical lyrics!) Comparison is isolating. Connecting with others is not. Who wouldn’t want a tribe on her side?
If writing is only about sales and income, then there’s value in recognizing your competition so you can adjust your marketing strategies accordingly. (But if it’s only about sales and income, then why are you writing books, anyway?) For me, income is a piece of the overall puzzle. It’s not my only motivation for writing and blogging. Honestly? I do it because I love it, and I can’t imagine not doing it.
My perspective soon shifted. I no longer saw other women who were doing what I wanted to do as competition. Instead, I began to celebrate them as kindred spirits. Now it encourages me to see other souls out there making this crazy, scary, writing thing work. I celebrate knowing there are always going to be more readers than writers, and if someone else’s target audience is the same as mine, then we can welcome each other with open arms (and notebooks), knowing a book lover will always be satisfied with more books.
I’ve always been happy to find new authors who remind me of the ones I already love. Isn’t that part of the joy? Reaching the end of a favored author’s library and discovering another author who can fill that bookish void, at least temporarily, until you go back to reread your favorites again?
I thought so.
Do you struggle with comparison, or have you embraced your creative tribe? Let me know in the comments below!