I’ve been reading a lot lately. And by a lot I mean that I’ve sunk about $150 in ebooks over the past month. And as it happens, sometimes when I go on a reading binge I begin to think that my writing sucks in comparison. After all, I’m not reading crappy books, I’m reading some really great stuff, so naturally my stories and style are going to pale in comparison.
But that’s the problem. I shouldn’t be comparing my writing to some of the best selling authors of all time and neither should you. So how do you get over the problem and enjoy both reading AND writing?
1. Read Outside Of Your Genre
Yes, it’s fun to read the same genre you love to write in. However, it’s also a good idea to read other stuff too. Love romance, read horror. Love fantasy, read mystery. Love sci-fi read contemporary fiction.
Reading outside of your genre exposes you to other ways to create a plot. The romance plot is pretty formatted because the romance has to be the center of the story. learn to appreciate other styles of writing and you’ll learn to appreciate your own style right along with it.
2. Write More Often
And by this I mean, write every day. The only way you’re going to get better is to push through the tough times and that means writing even when the muse is nowhere to be found. Write when you’re feeling insignificant and fearful. Keep writing even when you feel that every word on the page is crap and every sentence is gibberish. This is how you get better. Commit to getting better.
3. Accept that It’s a Process
There are many quotes about writing and one of my favorite is “The first draft of anything is shit.” You can thank Ernest Hemingway for that tidbit of advice.
Anne Lamott says, “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.” Boy, how I love that lady. If you haven’t read Bird by Bird, check it out. It will change your life.
Commit to being better today than you were yesterday.
If that means you write for just a little longer today, that’s great. If it means you’re kinder to yourself today, even better. If it means you improve your writing skills a smidgen, wonderful! Stop comparing yourself to others and compare yourself to how you were yesterday. Be better than you were yesterday and you’ll make huge strides in your writing career and in your life.