One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision” ~ Bertrand Russell
I’ve had to deal with imposter syndrome in my day-job, and it occurs to me that the same lessons translate to writing careers as well. The way I managed to let go, to stop worrying about how I stack up against my peers, was to decide they’re all working their asses off just like me. Even if I’m deluding myself. Because if I spend too much time comparing myself to other scientists–and to other writers–I’ll drive myself crazy.
Easier said than done, perhaps. But success is tricky to measure, and the time that writers spend toiling is rarely part of the picture. Sometimes it seems like all we see are the “overnight successes” that have been many years in the making.
Being at peace with your path seems to require a realistic grasp of control. I can control how hard I work, and what I choose to sacrifice to make time for my writing. I can control the quality of my work, by making a constant effort to practice and improve upon my craft. I can submit my stories to editors and agents, and hope that they will love them. But that’s about all I can do. The rest is out of my hands. Inch by inch, we get better, with the hope that when our writing is awesome enough, it can’t be ignored.
I had an exceptional amount of success in my short-lived career as an earthquake geologist. When I changed fields my colleagues were flummoxed that I would “give up” that momentum. I think it’s easy to keep doing the thing you’re good at. And far harder to push toward new goals. I often wish success wasn’t valued more than following your passions, or forcing a change when a lifestyle doesn’t suit you. Because I believe that the more invested we are in a project, the more successful we ultimately will be.
Of course, some people thrive on competition, and YMMV etc. etc. For me, too much external focus is toxic.
I say, write with love not envy.