Why It’s OK That You Didn’t Submit That Story

"story was the first virtual reality' Lisa Cron, Story Genius

This past weekend we celebrated StoryFest, here at StoryaDay.org.

StoryFest is our annual ‘recital’, our celebration of the work we did in May.

Some of our writers shared stories, others liked, commented and posted on social media about them. Others…didn’t.

And that’s OK. Because not everyone was ready.

  • Perhaps you weren’t ready to engage in the community.
  • Perhaps you didn’t feel ready to call yourself a writer.
  • Perhaps you were past the point where you were willing to post a story for free, because editors are clamoring to pay you.

(and yes, we have people in each of those stages here in the StoryADay community)

Do You Know What Stage You’re In on Your Writing Journey?

Whenever I’m with a group of writers and we’re talking about what we’ve written recently, it’s inevitable that someone, in the midst of complimenting someone else, will discount their own progress.

“I wish I could write as fast as you.”

“I just can’t write dialogue like you.”

“I’d kill to be able to write descriptions like yours.”

The good news is that no one has to die, for you to get better at writing (except perhaps some characters…).

Comparing ourselves to other writers is natural because it’s the way most of us learned to write: by reading and emulating what other people were doing.

The Comparison Trap

But it’s also dangerous because: 

  1. you are unique. Your voice is unique. Your experiences are unique. You can learn from other writers but you can never be any writer but yourself…and that’s a wonderful thing.
  2. You can’t do everything at once. 

Be In The Stage You’re In

If you’re just beginning to write your first stories you are not going to have an intuitive feel for when you’ve hit the midpoint, or a certainty about how to end it well.

These are skills everyone has to learn (hint: that word intuitive when it comes to writing just means someone has spent a lot of time reading and/or writing the types of stories they’re telling!).

If you’re submitting your first story to a publication, of course it’s going to take you longer to figure out how to put together a cover letter (or whether you should) and what ‘manuscript format’ means. All things being equal, someone submitting their 100th story is going to be able to do it faster than you, and with less angst.

If I’m signing a contract for my fourth book, I have completely different worries and insecurities from someone who is writing their second short story ever.

What you are able do, and the things you need to learn, all depend on the stage you’re in. 

It’s important to figure out where you are in your writing journey. Are you just starting out?

  • Are you writing regularly?
  • Have you settled into a routine with your writing and you’re focusing on improving specific skills?
  • Are you starting to feel impatient to get your work ‘out there’?
  • Are you being published regularly and dealing with a whole new round of imposter syndrome, feeling like a beginner in this new world of writing?

I want to encourage you to look at this two ways:

  1. It’s exciting! There’s always something to learn.
  2. It’s important to look backwards and forwards. 

Acknowledge how far you’ve come, and look ahead to where you want to be. Seeing where you are, on your path, tells you what you need to focus on.

If you’re just starting out, your goals are going to be about getting your routine and habits and mindset in place.

If you’re going pro, you probably need to work on systems so that your contracted obligations don’t eat into your writing time. And you have to stay motivated.

And in every stage, we have to fight the demons of insecurity.

That’s why it’s so important to double down and lean into the writing community.

Get Involved in the StoryADay Community

I have two ways for you to get involved.

  1. Leave a comment saying how you’d describe your stage of writing.
  2. Come back on the first of the month and post your goals in the SWAGr (Serious Writers’ Accountability Group) post, and leave some encouraging feedback on other people’s goals

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