Mirror Mirror on the Wall
Who is the awesomest writer of them all?
Think you know the answer? Let me give you a hint: there is no such thing.
Wow, Jasmine, you sure do give good pep talks.
Actually, I usually do. But it’s a fact. Recently, I was talking to one of the Inklings (that’s what we call the members of the INKubator). A young writer who works so hard at his writing. He’s got a brilliant mind, but he faces some pretty unique difficulties that make it hard for him to turn his thoughts into writing on a page sometimes.
He and I have spent a considerable amount of time working together and finding ways for him to work around his challenges and I couldn’t be more proud of the amount of progress he’s been showing.
But the other day, he told me he felt discouraged. Other people write stories and it just seems to flow, and his stories feel stilted to him. Awkward.
I’m one of the people he referred to when talking of those stories that he felt were so much stronger than his. But the thing is…
I feel what he feels. I read the work of my friends and I have to stop myself from deleting the novel I’m working on. What sort of a chance do I have, compared to writers who have such a way with words?
Of course my friends contradict me, saying I’m an amazing writer. They have to. They’re biased because of my lovable personality and my charming voice. Surely it can’t be my looks.
But really, thoughts like those are the most unproductive ones you could possibly have.
There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion.
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Of course some writers are better than you are. More experienced, more widely published, better dressed and to make you feel even more inadequate, they have more Twitter followers too.
No matter how much you practice, no matter how much you learn and improve and grow: there will always be someone better.
Does that mean you should stop trying? Hell no! Does that mean you should start doing everything they do? Hell no!
Read their stuff, absorb their tricks and skills, and become a better version of you, rather than a poorer version of them.
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Instead of comparing yourself to your role models and selling yourself short by doing so, look back at where you came from as a writer. See the progress you’ve already made, and take courage. If you’ve improved from where you started, you can do it again and again and again.
Don’t look up. Look in the mirror. Be proud. And smile.
Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous, half possession. That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him.
No man yet knows what it is, nor can, till that person has exhibited it. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton?
Every great man is a unique. The Scipionism of Scipio is precisely that part he could not borrow. Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Now go and write me something pretty!