Permission to be Less than the Best

Diane Lynn Tibert
Taking pictures through the windshield isn't perfect, but sometimes it's a must.

Discouraging thoughts abound. They lurk in the shadows, waiting for when our courage is at its weakest before pouncing. Once attacked, writers can fall victim to the dreaded ‘I’ll never write as well as – fill in the blank – so I should stop writing’ fever. There are only two things a writer can do under these circumstances . . . okay, three.

1) Knuckle down and fight off these dastardly thoughts.
2) Throw in the keyboard and choose another passion.
3) Accept the fact you won’t be the best and soldier on, revelling in the fact you are doing what you love.

I seldom, almost never, fall victim to this fever. That’s not to say I don’t wish I had written that award-winning novel or thought of that unique idea. I do, but they don’t discourage me from writing.

I can offer only one reason for this: I am number ten of eleven children. As a result, I’ve lived a life of second bests, hand-me-downs and never first in lines. I’ve grown accustom to never being number one. I’ve also developed an attitude that I’m going to play the game even though I don’t have a hope of being the best. Instead of focussing on the win, I enjoy the ride.

When applying these lessons of life to writing, I live by the philosophy that I’m not the best, not even close. This gives me the freedom to write without worrying about being as good as the best. Some may think I’m fearless, that I’ll try anything. Perhaps they’re right because when it comes to writing, I’m not afraid of failing or writing a novel that stinks. I assume I will.

Never being good enough also inspires me to keep learning, keep working to be better. I’m constantly reading ‘How to . . .’ books, writing magazines and surfing the web for writing advice. Lack of confidence in my spelling and using the correct word means there’s always a dictionary within arm’s reach. Punctuation is something I’m still working on and I’m learning different rules apply depending on location and influences.

The one thing I can say for sure is that I’m a better writer now than I was a year ago.

Oh! . . . Maybe that’s who every writer should compare themselves to – the writer they were a year ago. That type of competition can only encourage writers.

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2 thoughts on “Permission to be Less than the Best

  1. There’s some excellent advice here. As a firstborn with a writing talent that stood out from classmates throughout high school and college, I was accustomed to winning all the praise and prizes.

    It came as a shock later when I discovered that future success within the writing world would not come as easily and would probably be reliant on a great deal of persistence and hard work.

    I had a number of successes but my rejections in the early days were crushing. My husband told me: “Your problem is you’ve never gone through a really big failure.” He was right, but that was partly because I protected myself by refusing to throw myself into the fray and deal with competition. You can’t lose, was my subconscious belief, if you refuse to try.

    So be like the author of this blog: hurl yourself headlong into writing and learn all you can.

    It’s fascinating how lucky people get when they work hard!

    • Thanks you, Sheila, for commenting on my blog.

      Writing without fear of failure is like dancing as if no one’s watching, singing as though no one’s listening and dreaming like every wish will come true.

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