If you read very many of the guest blogs I post or follow me on Twitter, then you know I’m a pretty strong advocate of being oneself. My circle of writing friends consists of one other writer, I don’t do group critiques, and I generally shy away from fellowship with other writers. If you pressed me hard enough, you could probably get me to confess that I think most writers are dishonest and self-absorbed, but for the sake of having something constructive to say, I’ll just go ahead and label myself a “lone wolf” kind of person. Unless I’m directly collaborating with other writers (which has only ever happened on screenplays), I generally like to be a party of one.
There’s no question that the big reason why I’m like this is simply because I’m wired differently. I like to work alone—it’s just personal preference. However, I do think there’s a benefit to be had by occasionally shutting out the rest of the literary world.
Quite simply, the more we look at others, the more we feel pressured to be like them. They have great Amazon reviews…they must write better than us. They have 90,000 Twitter followers…they must tweet better than us. The more we look, the more we see what others are doing, and we live in an age where we can look everywhere. So the pressure is always on us to adjust the “business” of writing as if we were fine-tuning a piano. What many of us don’t realize, though, is that our pianos may already be in tune—for us.
There’s an irony in that today, when everyone is being encouraged to be themselves, we’re losing our individuality. Much of our time is spent trying to see what others are doing it so that we can do it too, with the goal of matching their success. And honestly…doesn’t that sound like a good idea? If you were running a corporation and competing against a rival, I’d agree. But you’re not. You’re an artist. Your job is to be you.
There are few advisors more trustworthy than the human gut. Rather than spending all your time peeking over the fence to see what the neighbors are up to, listen to what your gut is telling you, then do that thing. It’s going to be what you’re passionate about, it’s going to be what you’re good at. It’s going to serve you better than following someone else’s advice about what works for them. And, perhaps most importantly of all, it’s going to let you take a deep breath and chill out.
You don’t have to worry about how many sales that other writer is claiming to get (which may or may not even be true), thus eliminating the stress on your shoulders telling you you’re doing something wrong, or not doing enough. You don’t have to cry with your face in your hands because that other author has 90k Twitter followers, and you have 16. I got news for you…if a self-published author has 90k Twitter followers, that probably means they dropped a Benjamin at a site like devumi.com. Alleviate yourself of the stress of trying to match that. Instead, spend that time working on your craft. Your craft. Not someone else’s to tweak or critique. Be you.
We are most content when we feel satisfied, and we live in an era of dissatisfaction. The grass is always greener somewhere else. Someone’s always doing better, which means we’re not living up to our potential. But maybe they’re not doing better. Maybe they bring in six figures, but they’re miserable. Money and popularity don’t equal contentment.
I’d offer anyone who feels pressured to keep up with the Jones’s of the writing world this challenge: for a week, turn it all off. Stop looking to see what other writers are doing, and if you can manage it, stop caring. Write, or don’t write, or just go for a walk. Give yourself permission to take back the reigns of your life and career from the grasp of professional peer pressure. There’s no room for that when you’re creating artwork. Have confidence in your own ability, and it won’t let you down.
I realize that some people will be vehemently opposed to this advice! That’s okay. It’d be hypocritical for me to say, “stop focusing on other writers” while simultaneously imploring you to focus on what I’m telling you. So just see if anything I’ve said strikes a chord with you. If it does, you might just be a lone wolf. And there’s nothing—absolutely nothing—wrong with that.
About the Author:
Now a resident of Luling, Louisiana, Lee spends time every day delving into the world of Epic, the science-fiction series that has come to define him as a writer and producer. Alongside his wife, Lindsey, their son, Levi, and their dog, Jake, Lee has made it a mission to create a series that is unique in its genre—one unafraid to address the human condition while staying grounded in elements of faith.
In addition to writing, Lee works full-time for the Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness. He has also spent time as a church deacon, guitar hobbyist, and New Orleans Saints season ticket holder. He is a graduate of Louisiana College in Pineville.
Connect with Lee: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook
Series: Epic #1
Author: Lee Stephen
Published: November 4/06
Back Cover Blurb:
Some men go to war for the glory. Some men go to war to escape. For Scott Remington, war is entirely different. It is a belief. It is a calling. It is a destiny. Leaving everything behind-his fiancée, his future, his life-he embarks on a mission of faith into a battle he can barely understand. This is his story. This is his war. This is only the beginning.
The Dawn of Destiny audiobook project is a full adaptation of the first book in the Epic series. It's not your typical “audiobook,” even though technically that's what it is. When people hear “audiobook,” there’s a certain type of thing that usually comes to mind. Most likely it’s the thought of someone reading a book to them, occasionally with music playing in the background. This isn't that.
What you’re going to hear in this project, is more of an audio “experience,” the audio equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie. Over thirty voice actors played a role in this. This is ear-splitting sound effects, bombastic music, and characters shouting back and forth in the middle of a war zone. This is unlike anything you've ever heard.
There is lots of scene and world building in this novel, transporting readers directly into the novel. The beginning is a bit slow as we get to know the characters and the world is built before our eyes, but once this happens, Stephen takes us on a journey that’s out of this world. Everything became so real that I didn’t simply picture the battles as they occurred, I could hear, smell & feel them as well. The inclusion of maps of the major battle sites made it easier to visualise the who, what, where & how of the situations as well.
I also appreciated the fact that ‘Earth’ isn’t a single people in this novel. Sure, humans fight together against this outside threat, but they don’t magically become a single people. The countries remain independent entities with separate cultures and values. This lends itself not only to an extra sense of realism for the reader, but also to a well-defined cast of characters. Many of these individuals really stand out, and there were quite a few that I would love to consider friends.
Oh Veck! What a tale & a half. My final thoughts? ‘Please Sir, may I have some more?’ (That’s right; Stephen has me cracking out some Oliver Twist to beg for the sequel).
Be sure to enter this tour wide giveaway!