Could it be that every other writer is notching easy wins and living the high life?
by Philip Fracassi
We’ve all been there.
You scroll through social media and you see (what feels like) hundreds of posts from other folks in your field talking about their accomplishments—their latest deals, their insanely great job news, the multiple ways in which they are succeeding.
And with each post, or each time you grudglingly type “Congrats!” or “Amazing!” you feel worse, and worse, and worse.
Why not me? you think. Where’s my success?!
These posts can be especially trying for writers, who are by their nature an isolated lot. They also tend to be a smidge on the sensitive side—always eager to clutch onto feelings of self-doubt while living with a chronic case of impostor syndrome that’s always lingering just below the strained smiles and awkward social habits.
Well, I’m here to help.
I have been a professional, published writer for about five years now. In human terms I’m an infant, barely crawling, smearing my words and drooling on a binky. And while I don’t consider myself “successful” per se, I have been through a lot over the last handful of years, and have reached some consistency in publishing my work. To that end, I thought sharing some of what I’ve learned might help someone who’s perhaps just starting out, and perhaps feeling a lot of the above.
Okay, so, a lot of my online friends are writers. And, like me, they constantly struggle with finding ways to keep The Dream alive, to do whatever they can to eke out the tiniest semblance of a career—a daunting, exhausting, often humiliating, but incredibly bold goal to set for oneself.
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I’d like you to remember that many writers, myself included, tend to only post when Good Stuff happens, leaving the Bad Stuff for some of our “offline” circles to hear about (Hi, Mom!) So from the outside looking in, it often seems like everything is always great (!) when, in reality, there is only one side of things being publicly projected.
Nothing good comes easy and—if you don’t mind a little tough love—no one is going to make it happen for you, but you.
Look, I could post about my hundreds of rejections, or my legal battles with publishers, or the depression cycles I go through when things are in a downturn, but I choose not to (well, okay … for the most part).
But I do worry sometimes that folks who scroll through my feed think it’s all gravy when, in reality, there’s a ton of sweat and tears and despair and tough losses between those select, uncommon wins.
Here’s what writers need to remember:
Perseverance is the most important thing to finding success in this field. In any form. Be it getting that first story sale, or a novel deal with a Big 5 publisher, or a movie option. All that stuff is generated from the hard-packed soil of years of toil and heartache and relentless, countless hours of work. For every story sale, I’ve had double-digit rejections. For every small win, a hundred tough losses. Every victory has been fertilized with the bones of countless dead soldiers, armored in Times New Roman, carrying query letter swords; every seedling in the field of my career is sprouted by watering it with hours and hours of work.
Okay, enough of the metaphors. Here’s my advice. Here’s the way I get through all the hard, crappy times:
I forget about everything but the work. I push away all the noise—the frustration at seeing others succeed where I failed, the endless heartbreaking rejections, the fears of not making it, or the idea that nothing lies ahead but shattered dreams. That I’m an impostor.
Every seedling in the field of my career is sprouted by watering it with hours and hours of work.
Instead of all that mental garbage, it’s just Me and The Story. This mentality saves me. It’s a life raft I can climb into during a storm and ride safely until that next harbor of promise comes up on the horizon. And, man, then I row as hard as I can—row and row and row—and hope like hell to get there. To that bright light of victory on the distant shore.
My point to all of this is to inform you that no one is doing as well as you think they are. To remind you that nothing good comes easy and—if you don’t mind a little tough love—that no one is going to make it happen for you, but you.
So, the next time you get frustrated, or despair? That’s when you gotta dig deep and do the work. Ignore the noise. Ignore the comparisons. Put your nose to the grindstone and focus on The Work.
Eventually, it will pay off. And then you can share the good news.
And I can’t wait to hear it.
Philip Fracassi is an award-winning author and screenwriter. His debut novel, Boys In The Valley, premiered on Halloween 2021 from Earthling Publications. His recent and upcoming novels include A Child Alone With Strangers (August 2022, Talos Press) and Gothic (February 2023, Cemetery Dance). Philip’s work has been favorably reviewed by the New York Times, Rue Morgue Magazine, and Locus Magazine, and his produced screenplays have been distributed by Lifetime Television and Disney Entertainment. Philip lives with his family in Los Angeles, California.
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