Today I am going to share just a few pieces of advice I have learned in recent months. First: Don't announce what you are going to do. Second: Do not participate in one-ups-manship.
I've talked a little bit on this blog before about the Miserable Flex TM (and it's one of my favorite things to talk about because of how much I struggled with it and how much people subscribe to it) and this second bit of encouragement might be repetitive. But first, the first one.
What do you mean don't tell people what I'm going to do? Exactly that. The online writing community, I have come to find, is a brutal and mean world. Yes, it's Mean Girls but with snarky, mouthy writers. It can be VERY tempting to exclaim on Twitter (or whichever rat race you live on) "I've decided to start a new series about a magical mole and his deaf bat mount!" I've done this. Everyone has done this. In martial arts, when you hint at your next move, attack, or maneuver call it telegraphing. This lets your opponent see what you are going to do and launch a counter. Writers do the same thing. They will hold you to it, ask about it hoping you have failed. And you know what? Often times--as with new "inspired" projects--they do fall through. Then they move in for the kill. And now everyone knows you didn't make the thing happen. They might not come directly at you (because no one is better at passive-aggressive evilness than online writing acquaintances) but they will know and it will tint every interaction you have.
Plus, if you tell your audience what you are going to do before you do it...the magic is gone. I worked for a magician once (just for a year in Houston). The first night I got sawed in half, I was on cloud nine! So exciting! I knew the secret! Knowing the secret is so delicious! Not being a dick about knowing the secret was even better. When someone asked how it was done, rather than being coy, dropping hints, saying it was hard (it's not...), or making myself a higher pedestal, I just told them that I couldn't tell them and often had to direct the conversation elsewhere. I didn't want to talk about it. I wanted them to see the show and love the magic.
Your writing and projects are the same way. Keep your process to yourself (more on the process in another blog). Only show your finished trick. While you work on your next trick, keep pushing the one you have (advertising your currently released novel, story, audio drama). Then BAM! Next thing the people watching you know, you have a new trick out. This protects you. And that's a good thing. If you are lucky enough to have a few writer friends in your life that you can trust--you have struck gold! I have had two online acquaintances turn on me with condescending comments and brutal one-ups-manship.
Which brings me the second tidbit: Stop trying to one-up each other. Kind of the opposite of the Miserable Flex TM, but very closely related, is the OUMS (one-ups-manship). This is where you share something on facebook/Twitter/IG about how you are not going to be discouraged about no time to write. You might not even mention all the things you have to do (and yes, we are ALL busy). And someone else (one of those online writing friends) comes on and says, "Oh, I feel you! I have SO MUCH to do with ALL THIS" and proceeds to list off a myriad of tasks and lifestyle choices. At least two more than what you have (if you listed yours...which, just don't). For some reason, I have had this happen 3 times in the last year from people I thought were on my side. We were all in the same boat. I never said anything against them (until now). Why attack me? Why did they need to put me down to validate themselves? They are the equivalent of those Karens who say you do not deserve to be tired--or cannot be tired--if you don't have kids.
Everyone is fighting battles you cannot see. If we all judged each other by our standards, no one would measure up. If we judged a fish by its ability to climb a tree, we'd decide it was stupid and useless. Same if we threw a monkey into the ocean. The great part about our planet and humans in general (and trust me, there are not a lot of good things about mankind) is that we are all different. But I think the old saying holds true: people try to tear you down to their level. If you are not failing or struggling then you are doing life wrong. See the Miserable Flex TM blog here. But I have recently refused to be that way. I want to show people how I am shining.
So I leave you with this quote I posted on IG last night: Do not tell people what you hope to do or will do. Show them what you have done.