A Word on Productivity & Comparison

You scroll through your social media feed, reading post after post from your author friends: That one who somehow publishes ten books in a year; that one who can write 100k in a week; one who just landed a book deal; one who manages to keep up with three different projects all at once and still responds to emails from readers within hours. You love these authors, and you want to be happy for them, but envy twists in your gut so you hit “like” without really meaning it and keep scrolling past, berating yourself all the while for once again watching envy eat your excitement for others’ successes.

Me too.

But we’re not stuck! Envy is persistent, absolutely. It takes conscious effort to shut down that voice in your head that says, “They’re doing everything right and I’m still struggling; how come they have it so easy?” But I’m going to pick apart the lies we hear when envy sneaks in and help you learn how to combat them.

They’re Doing So Much; They Must Have it Easy

One lie that envy tells us is that because someone is successful, they must have everything figured out and never struggle to keep up. Nope. Nope, nope, nope. I can definitely tell you that that author you’re envying has just as much trouble keeping up as you do and probably struggles not to feel like they’re behind the other authors in their feed as well.

First of all, writing is hard. Publishing is hard. Creating products is hard. And while you can learn habits and develop patterns and systems for getting things done, it’s still hard. You just end up with different tasks causing difficulties.

Social media is a highlight reel. You see the finished products, the stack of published books, the celebratory tea, or whatever.

What you don’t see are all the times that author didn’t want to work on the project. All the times they pushed through anyway, or the times they gave in to the lack of motivation and felt guilty for it. You don’t see all the times their computer crashed or their software glitched and they had to start all over. You don’t see the moments they came this close to giving up on the project altogether because they started to think it was a waste of time.

Those authors in your feed are just as human as you are. Social media makes it easy to forget, sometimes, but remember that.

Next time you’re tempted to scroll past a celebration post with a half-hearted like and some grumpy thoughts, take a deep breath, imagine how much work it took to get there, and congratulate them. Let them know how much you admire their dedication. It might not silence the envy entirely, but I can bet it’ll make you feel at least a little bit better and it’ll be a great encouragement to the other author.

I Can Never Achieve That

Okay, so to be honest this one might not be a lie. Maybe you can’t publish ten books a year. But maybe you can publish a book every couple of years and focus on your reader community and resources for writers while you plug away at drafts. Just because your success won’t ever look like that other author’s success doesn’t mean it’s any less of a success. That author is not you, and you are not that author. You both have different strengths, and that’s a good thing. God has given each of us different gifts, and we do better when we lean into our own gifts and interests than when we try to make our progress and our focus match someone else’s.

I don’t think I will ever be able to publish more than two books a year. And that’s if I count short stories. I’m pretty certain I’ll never be able to manage more than one novel in a year. But that’s okay. Because if I were to push myself to publish more in a shorter time, the quality of my work would suffer and I wouldn’t have time to work on other projects that I love, like this blog or my worldbuilding course or just hanging out in my Discord server to answer questions. It just doesn’t suit my writing process. But it suits other authors, and that’s great. They see a lot of success from publishing a lot really quickly. I choose, instead, to lean into my strengths and do a lot of different things steadily and more slowly.

You have strengths, too. If you can identify them and use them faithfully, you’ll be able to become the best author you can be, and the author that God designed for you to be.

Next time you see an author’s post and think “I could never do that,” remember what you can do and then celebrate the other author for their strengths! God designed you both, with your unique strengths and weaknesses, because you both have purpose and importance. So congratulate your friend on her third consecutive 100k week and then go work on your awesome coaching program.

Focusing on Your Productivity

That author that you’re admiring got to where they are by faithfully stewarding the gifts God gave them and pursuing the work He placed before them. The only way you can get to a place of contentment with your own work is by approaching it the same way. God has gifted you in some way. Whether you’re a really fast writer, a thorough editor, an encouraging mentor, or whatever the case may be, you have unique strengths that can be applied to your writing career. By figuring out what these strengths are and how to use them, stewarding them to God’s glory, you can make a lot of progress in your writing. If you’re faithful.

A great writing life doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of faithful dedication, trial and error, and continuing to change your methods when they no longer fulfill their purpose. But years are composed of months, composed of days, composed of hours, composed of minutes. So start being faithful now. Write that blog post. Add another paragraph to your book. Spend fifteen minutes on building your platform. You don’t have to take big steps. You just have to faithfully keep walking. God will bring you to the place you’re supposed to be.

And when you’re walking faithfully and you see someone else walking faithfully, you’re free to cheer one another on as your paths overlap. There’s space enough for both of you.

Have you struggled with envy lately? (I know I have. :P) How can you encourage the authors “ahead” of you? What strengths can you focus on faithfully stewarding today? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

3 thoughts on “A Word on Productivity & Comparison

  1. This was definitely something I needed as I’ve been struggling with this lately. What a great reminder that it’s not about comparing ourselves to others, but simply walking the path God has for us! Thank you for this great post, Ariel!

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