Do you ever pick up a book to get inspired, and instead you feel terribly intimidated?
This author is profound, scintillating and funny at the same time! How am I ever going to that? Then you slam the book shut and solemnly vow only to communicate in hand gestures and emojis from this day forth.
Let me just say, you’re not alone. This “other author” despair crosses all our minds at times, but I’m here to talk you off the ledge.
First and foremost, repeat this famous quote by Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.”
For me this is the key to transforming intimidation into inspiration. Of course at this point your inner critic might be flaring, “Believe me Emily, that’s ridiculous. I’m not Gabriel Garcia Marquez. My biggest fear is NOT what a great writer I am, just read my draft and see.”
And yet, you have to understand that every writer became what they are by falling in love with the written word. They have a profound and acute appreciation for what they read, and it’s by following that passion that they discover their own voice.
If you find yourself becoming intimidated by the beauty of other writers, that means you have that appreciation as well. (Not everyone does.) And if we can just extract the self-consciousness from the scenario, you’ll be back in the flow of writing the book you were meant to write.
In the end, that’s really the point. After all, whoever this writer is that you’re so intimidated by, they’re not going to write your book. Only you can do that. However if that’s going to happen, you can’t just read someone else’s final product (that they might have spent years developing BTW) and decide that you’re not even going to try.
Your own voice emerges as you advance down the path, and it becomes very distinct from other authors you might admire. So that’s what we’re going to do. Advance down the path with concrete action:
Choose ten books that grab your attention and are similar to the one you want to write. Some of these books will become your companions throughout this process.
If you feel even the slightest intimidation about other books in this space, apply a little business sense. You still have to write it. When an entrepreneur wants to start a business and they see other similar businesses, they take it as a good sign that there will be an audience for what they have to offer. They learn the conventions of that space and then distinguish themselves.
Take your ten books and read the beginnings. You can do this hanging out at a bookstore or just downloading free samples from Amazon. Then answer the following questions:
1. What’s the central question or problem the book will address? Remember, this is essential for fiction too!
2. After reading those pages which book are you most eager to read? Put the 10 in order from most to least compelling.
3. Why is your first choice so interesting? Do a little analysis for each book. What turns you on and what turns you off.
As you read, allow yourself to admire what the other author has managed to accomplish without worrying about yourself. Let their beauty simply shine and don’t even think about how you look. Just know that readers will someday do the same for you when you finally release your gorgeous book. Before you know it, reading will be fun again. You’re embarking on your own writing journey and these spectacular books will become your friends (not your enemies) along the way.