To My Fellow Authors: If You’re Feeling Like You’re Spinning Your Wheels In The Mud, This One Is For You.

It’s a feeling I think we all experience. Like Sisyphus, constantly pushing that boulder up the hill. It feels like no matter how hard we work, the climb just keeps getting steeper, and there’s no chance of reaching the top. 

I’ve felt that way more than a few times during my writerly journey. I would be lying if I said I didn’t question myself (at every turn, really). I often wondered what the point was. And sometimes, I still do, honestly. What if I’m talentless? What if all of these words are unremarkable? What if this, what if that? 

The highs made it worth it. The times when I reached smaller mountains in the range. Inevitably, for every peak, there was a valley. Some deeper, some broader than others. I told myself that it was all worth it for those brief windows of contentedness and those moments where I felt right within my bones as an author. Times where I felt that all of the blood, sweat, and tears culminated in more than just words on the page. For me, the greatest high comes in the form of being read. I love talking to my readers and hearing their thoughts and opinions. Above all else, I love knowing that the story I slaved over warmed something in them. I guess, in my heart of hearts, I’m just a doddering old lady that wants to nourish those around me. In this case, it’s with my words. With love stories and happily-ever-afters. In promises that every dark patch will bring with it a ray of sunshine. 

But the lows are just as intense. I often felt strangled by the vice-grip of my imposter syndrome. It’s often said that comparison is the thief of joy, but so much of our success is now based on algorithms— the numerical value assigned to you, your talent, your life’s work. Every writer wants to believe their work is a five-star, but there are just as many people who believe it’s deserving of only one. Or, more dreadfully, none at all. I’ve espoused the power of not allowing ratings to define you, and while I hold true to the opinion, as humans, I know it’s impossible to not be bogged down by them. Especially in the social media rat race, where we’re all struggling for attention, vying for the eyes of our readers. Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram. All paths to salvation and ruination; criticism and celebration. “But so-and-so has three-thousand followers, and I’ve barely crested 250 in the same six months,” “how does this person have so much engagement when my posts barely get three likes?” We research our colleagues and see what works while trying to not compare ourselves, our work, and our value. And in the end, I think most of us fail. 

I’ve built my platform by trying to uplift other writers. I can’t tell you the number of conversations I’ve had with other writers who feel similarly helpless. All the while, I’m biting back my own feelings of inadequacy. We both need to hear “just keep going” and “the world needs your stories.” So I give these words. 

More importantly, I mean them. 

I mean them because I recognize that they’re in the same valley as me. We’re at the base of the mountain, staring up at a monolith we have no idea how to scale. Not only that, but I’ve read their words and carved their stories into my bones in the way every good story leaves an indelible mark.

But that’s the thing about valleys. And life, too. There is a balance—painful and seemingly too often disproportionately favored to one side—but a balance nonetheless. It’s an adage as old as time that one cannot have the good without first experiencing the bad. So, just know, even when you’re at the bottom of the valley, and the soles of your shoes are sinking into the mud, you’ll get up that mountain. Likely sooner than you think.

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