I was shocked to have a dear friend tell me he resented my passion for writing. He said he found my attitude very non-motivating. He thought I was pounding my chest saying, “Look how wonderful I am.”
I remember silently praying as he spoke, “Lord, help me to listen, learn, and not get upset.” I cherish this man as a friend. He is nearly always correct in his observations and comments. He had my attention.
At the time of his remarks, I was telling the world through Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ I was writing before work, during my lunch hour, and sometimes after work. I let all know I also was writing Saturday mornings for five or six hours as well as two hours before church on Sunday morning. I would tell everyone how long I wrote timewise as well as my daily word count. I worked on my novel. I reviewed books. I was also submitting a short story or poem(s) every week. I made sure the world knew. I was doing all this writing while working fifty plus hours a week at my day job.
In a six-month period, I had nineteen pieces accepted. I tracked everything. I recorded the submission date. I knew the average response time of each publication or editor. I could tell you I placed seventeen percent of my submissions on the first try. When I got an acceptance, I posted online bragging and sent an email to my writer’s group - more bragging.
From writing for years, I knew I needed to read, write, edit, rewrite, submit and share my victories. I knew and believed a rejection isn’t personal. I learned that keeping track of your daily word count was important. While writing on a regular schedule was necessary for success, telling other how self-disciplined you are isn't.
I am a lucky guy to have writer friends like this man who are honest with me. He said I made others that didn’t have my self-discipline and laser-focus feel like failures.
“Why bother? We can never meet the Jimmie standard,” he said.
"Jimmie standard?" Gulp.
I had trouble understanding how my setting what I viewed as a positive example could be negative. What I knew was if he said it, it was true. I knew in my heart he was right. I needed an attitude adjustment.
- Share your victories, but don’t brag.
- I suffered from pride.
- Everyone works at a different pace.
- Don’t apply your personal standards to other.
- I was taking the fun out of writing for others.
- Don’t share everything about what I’m writing or reading.
Application of the Lessons Learned:
- I get up early. I give the best part of my day to being creative.
- I continue going to Starbucks before work. While there I write for 60 to 90 minutes.
- I don’t always mention my morning writing on social media. When I do, I rarely share my word count.
- I still use my lunch hour to write. I do this four days a week. I rarely mention it on social media.
- I have a scheduled lunch meeting with a friend one day a week. I don't write during lunch that day.
- Most weeks I don’t mention my submissions, acceptances or rejections at my writer’s group or online.
My friend told me months later than seeing my consistency and passion over the long haul had partially changed his attitude toward me. He realized my focus on writing and publishing was legitimate. He thought I was maybe a little too “driven”.
Don't fall into the trap that snared me. Respect your writing friends. It's okay to share your victories, but don't impose your own "Jimmie standard" on others. They probably know you are a high achiever, love yourself, and have an uncanny laser focus toward your writing. You don't have to jump up and down saying, "Look how wonderful I am."
Photo Credit: It is in the Public Domain (http://www.photos-public-domain.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/wonderful.jpg).