Every single day I’m bombarded by the race. Who can share the next coolest thing on Twitter? Who has the most impressive pictures of their big new house on Facebook? Who just landed an agent, a movie deal, or 1,000 more followers for their blog? Who was named the sexiest woman in the world? The best CEO of all time?
It never ends.
This is the culture we live in. A person’s value as a human being is gauged by popularity, income, and approval ratings. There is a competition going. It lasts forever, everyone’s in it, and the only way to really win is to become some sort of an icon and then die. Of course, you can also win rounds here and there by passing certain milestones of success, but after you pass each milestone it soon loses its power. And then you have to focus on the next round.
It’s not real. The competition, the milestones, the approval ratings—none of it is real.
Writers are artists. Each artist born onto this planet has a personality, creative desire, and bright-light soul like no one else who has ever lived before. An artist can only give birth to their own unique creative expression. We might try to write like someone else, or adopt someone else’s business model, or tap into someone else’s trend, but nothing can change who we are.
We are the only person who has ever lived who is exactly like us.
That is real and true. It’s a scientific fact. No two human beings are exactly alike. There are no clones occurring in the natural world.
So if each human being is totally unique, and every artist can only manifest their own unique gifts, then how in the world can you possible compete with someone else when it comes to creative expression?
But the other half of the competitive mindset is a little more challenging to dissolve. Our culture tells us that there is only so much room in any particular field. There are only so many slots to be filled out there by hopeful applicants. That once a certain level is reached (and no one really seems to know what the numbers are on that level) then the market is “oversaturated” and glutted with material no one wants.
These assumptions are also not real.
The truth is that there is enough for everyone. There is room for everyone. There is opportunity, interest, and reward for everyone. Now, if every single writer out there needed the attention of the entire planet, then there might not be enough for all of us. However, we are all different people with different needs. So no, we cannot all have the attention of the entire planet. But there is enough for each of us to have our individual needs met.
For instance, I’ve heard a lot about how “oversaturated” the market is right now with Young Adult fiction. It seems to be a competitive field. Writers and agents alike complain about how there’s just too much being submitted and not enough space for every YA writer who wants to make it.
But the interesting thing is, out of all the YA readers I know (and I know quite a few), I have never once heard any of them say that there is too much YA fiction to be had. In fact, they seem to get really excited about new writers appearing on the scene and new books to discover.
The mindset of competition is a mindset of scarcity. It is driven and fed by fear. It is the ego telling you that you will never be good enough, you will never have enough value, unless you achieve this and this, and get that and that.
And you can squander your entire life on this and that.
Stories go deeper than fear. They have been around since the dawn of time, even when there was no one around yet to tell them. They are born out of love. And there can never be too much love in the world. Because no matter how much there is, someone out there still needs more. Someone out there is desperately searching for more.
As a writer, giving your artistic gift to the world is your life purpose. You were born to help others find more. It is one of the primary reasons you are here, now. Let all the worries about approval ratings fall away.
Do what you were meant to do. Create more.
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