Last summer, at the Writing Yoga® Retreat that I host with my colleague Stefanie Lipsey, I learned something that some might say, “No, duh!” to, but that I’d kind of forgotten. It was during one of our afternoon yoga sessions, and Stefanie was leading the yoga. She reminded us to focus on what was happening on our own yoga mat. That is to say, it didn’t matter if the person next to me could balance on one foot while wrapping their other foot behind their head, all while humming a satisfying OM to the universe, while I might be struggling to figure out which way to turn my head, where to place my hand, and how my foot happened to get where it is. Yoga isn’t a contest. It’s not a competitive sport. When I focused on what was happening on my own mat, not only was it a much more pleasant experience, but I was able to achieve the tasks I set for myself there.
Similarly, writing isn’t a competitive sport. “What?,” you might ask, “How can that be?!” Because your writing isn’t going to keep improving if you don’t keep your focus on your own work. Measuring yourself against other writers won’t make your writing any better or worse. Putting others down or putting yourself down in comparison to others also won’t change how you write. What will change how you write is writing and reading.
So, if you’re not a write every day kind of writer, that’s ok. If you’re a plotter or a *pantser, that’s ok. If you only write during the summer, that’s ok. If you can’t read in your genre while you’re in the midst of a manuscript, that’s ok. If you need to eat mini marshmallows while you write, that’s ok. However it works for you is ok. Keep your concentration on what’s happening on your own “yoga mat.” In that way, you’ll know what you need to focus on next and it might be a more pleasant experience.
*a “pantser” is someone who writes by the seat of their pants, as opposed to outlining a whole plot beforehand.
What’s one bit of advice you’d like to give other writers? What’s one bit of writing advice that made a difference for you?