There are several prescribed courses toward publication once you finish a piece of work. Various routes to getting your work out into the world. But before you edit, peer edit, query and submit, there is one very important first step I believe you must take before you can be successful.
Get your ego out of your way.
It’s an old cliche. The writer and his or her giant ego, who strikes down critics, naive commentators, politicians, other writers and even the occasional fan who just does not understand the weight of their reading material with a witty and biting stroke of their sharp pen.
But we writers hate cliches, don’t we?
It’s been a hard lesson for me, an introvert with a burning need to shine like a supernova, but more than anything else, my ego has held me back in progressing with my writing.
Some people confuse a large ego with good self esteem. Those people are wrong.
At it’s core the ego is about self preservation. While confidence tells you can do something, Ego tells you that you shouldn’t try because you might fail. While a good sense of self allows you to shake off a defeat and try again, the ego refuses to acknowledge any flaws in your implementation, instead blaming others for your shortcomings.
The ego is a liar.
The ego is destructive.
The ego is holding you back and weighing you down.
The ego acts like an overbearing, overprotective, coddling parent. When you feel sad, it gives you candy. It tells you that you are perfect. It lashes out at anyone that might have hurt you. It keeps you from playing any games or with any people that might make you feel that way again.
When you write, you are not creating from your ego. You are creating from deep within, from a place in yourself that is honest and humble. When you are finished that first draft, what you have is something vulnerable. It may be brilliant but it is naked. And Mama Ego wants to take over so it never gets hurt, never get changed, and never doubts itself.
A big ego doesn’t want your work to succeed. It urges you to hide your work. It tells you your work is perfect and you don’t have to change anything. It tells you that the people who suggest edits are wrong, jealous, hateful, mean. It urges you to lash out and criticize other people’s work in a destructive and hurtful way, to look at the others around you as competitors, trying to step on you to get ahead. When your work is rejected, it tells you to hide it again. Protect it. Stop trying. You’re not good enough.
Your ego is really irrational.
So get it out of the way. Love your work and know it can be better. Put it out there and let it be toughened up by the world and then take it back in and care for it.
Get your ego out of the way. Admire and support other writers. Offer them genuine critiques with their best interests in mind and if their ego bites you back, be understanding that they are not there yet. You will find a group that will admire and support you if you don’t treat your peers like they are the enemy.
Get your ego out of the way. Keep striving. Keep writing. Keep refining. Keep learning. Maybe your first book can’t be saved, so write a new one. Who wins on their first try? You won’t ever be good enough if you quit.
Get your ego out of the way. If you make it, if you publish that book, if it gets great reviews, if you’re living the dream, don’t forget you were once a hopeless, penniless admin assistant who couldn’t bring herself to say she was a writer out loud because you feared the questions and the judgments it might provoke. If you make it, don’t take it as an excuse to give your ego a room at the beach house. It will reek just as much havoc in your successful life as it will in your striving life.
Get your ego out of the way. Entertain it once a month to remind yourself that it’s not a very good friend. It’s kinda a douche and it holds you back from your very best work.