Ever have those moments? Maybe you go to a conference and hear what all the other writers have written and you look at your own story and contemplate how your shining diamond just became a worthless chunk of glass. Maybe you get a rejection letter where the agent is severely honest in their feedback. Or maybe you’re just having one of those days, staring at the computer screen, wondering if you’re really cut out for this business.
I think most of us have those moments of self-doubt, be they brief or long. I think this quote is best suited for moments like those, coming from Neil Gaiman:
Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that—but you are the only you… There are better writers than me out there, there are smarter writers, there are people who can plot better—there are all those kinds of things, but there’s nobody who can write a Neil Gaiman story like I can.
Someone might write better prose than you. Maybe their descriptions are pure poetry, while you feel yours is just getting the job done. Maybe you bump into someone who seems to have the most marketable idea in the universe, while perhaps the market seems saturated with ideas like yours. And maybe you just keep bumping into tons of people who seem much further along on the writing path than you are.
But that’s not really the point, is it? The point is to tell your stories. As Mr. Gaiman said, there will always be better and smarter writers, and that’s okay. Tell the stories only you can tell and be proud of it.
That’s not to say you don’t strive to become better every day. Hone those writing skills daily. Read everything you can. Don’t settle for less than the best in your writing. But when you find yourself worrying or comparing yourself to other writers, pull up this quote and remember you’re writing the story only you can write.
You are the only you.
Do you agree with Mr. Gaiman? Are you trying to write the stories only you can write? What do you do when doubt starts to creep in? How do you keep it away? What advice would you add to Mr. Gaiman’s statement? Let us know in the comments below.