The publishing business is hard to navigate, especially in the beginning. Some may try to tell you to be more of this or less of that and you may be tempted to listen because you want so desperately to find your niche.
I understand. I've been there.
I once believed anyone who I felt had more knowledge than me, only later to find out they were doing this writing thing as a hobby whereas I've always done it as a career. Perhaps they spoke with more authority or simply at a louder decibel. Honestly, I don't think I trusted myself enough to stand my ground because, like a lot of writers, I let self-doubt undermine me for awhile.
As I waded through the muck, I tried things that didn't resonate with my soul because I wanted so desperately to get more exposure or "not fall behind." I made a fatal mistake--I compared myself to the perceived success of others.
The key word there is perceived. Writers are simultaneously competitive, driven, and creative while being plagued with self-doubt, insecurities, and sometimes loneliness in this solo profession. As a result, we tend to gravitate to anyone who seems like they have their shit together. Let's be honest, though--we're all the same, no matter what level of professional success we've achieved.
I speak the truth. The most successful of authors have days when they want to toss the computer out the window, quit to work as a bartender on a beach somewhere (that's my personal favorite), or never write again. It's our nature--some of us hide it better than others.
So why compromise who you are to be like so-and-so when we are essentially the same? Yes, we have different goals. Yes, we are in different stages of our careers. So what? We need to honor where we are on our own path rather than trying to race to catch up to so-and-so. We must be true to our own journeys as creators.
It took me awhile to come to this revelation, but I'm relieved to have finally come full circle. I have recently disconnected from anything and everything that isn't serving the highest purpose for my career. Anything that resonated as wrong for me is now gone. Writers groups that were bogged down with negative thinkers or unpaid obligations that wasted my time without giving me the connections I'd hoped for have been cast aside.
There comes a time to reevaluate your career and lose the dead weight. Anything that isn't moving you forward is essentially holding you back.
Think about why you started writing. Don't just say something random or cliched about it being your calling. I want you to get real with yourself. Did you always see yourself scraping by or did you want to go for the glory?
There's no shame in admitting the latter, by the way.
Ask yourself if the activities you're doing today--if the people you've aligned yourself with--are propelling you forward or keeping you stuck.
Are the writers' groups you're involved with encouraging a sharing of ideas or have they become bogged down with the "my way or the highway" mentality of the leadership?
Are you seeking new connections on a weekly basis or have you become complacent when it comes to networking?
Are you actively staying educated on the changing dynamics of the industry by reading blogs or online trade magazines? Let me give you a tip: you need to do this. What's golden today may be outdated tomorrow.
Are the so-called experts in your inner circle deserving of the title? Know who you're taking advice from--even me (my bio is to the right)--before you believe it to be so.
Do you have an editor/writing buddy/beta reader trying to get you to change your style to be more or less? Always keep an open mind because some feedback is crucial, but at the end of the day you need to be proud of your work. After all, your name is on it. What do you want that to stand for a year from now? Ten years from now?
Do you feel good about what you're writing? Do you feel happy when you think about the projects ahead? If not, why? What can you change? You're a writer! Isn't this your dream?
Ultimately, you are the author of your own career. Now is the time to reassess how it's going. There is no harm in choosing new writers groups or disconnecting from peers who bring you down. I ask you to remember the dream you had when you first set out on this journey--are you in line with that today? If not, it's very easy to make a course correction.
Don't wait. Be true to yourself today. Honor that dream you had and eliminate anything that doesn't resonate with your heart.
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.