Slave to Perfection & The Dangers of Comparing Ourselves with Others
Last night I watched the movie Bad Moms and it was a great movie. Brain candy. A lot of laughs. Nothing too deep…well, maybe a little deep. One of the areas the movie explored is how in this age we are all killing ourselves to reach some unreachable Photoshopped standard. The New Yorker even did a post called How Facebook Makes Us Unhappy which highlighted the growing problem of social comparison.
And I will admit that even I have to be careful. It is tough not to compare my size 12 middle-aged body to my friends who had a baby and instantly went back to a Size 2. It’s tough when I see pictures of a friend’s house and it looks like a Good Housekeeping spread and mine is covered in Cheeze-Its and a sticky film we have yet to explain.
I have elves.
But instead of Overly Responsible Greatest Generation Ever Elves the shoemaker got, I got the Bratty Entitled Millennial Elves who just want to watch streaming video when they aren’t making nachos or tipping over my neatly stacked towels…and wiping their sour cream covered hands on them.
Seriously, It is RIDICULOUS
I live in an apron. Even sitting at the computer. I write for an hour then get up and stretch by tidying. My mom even picked on me and said I had to make sure to never take off my apron because she might not recognize me.
And yet my home is so, so far from those pictured in Pinterest.
How I long to have a master bedroom that is a sanctuary (a.k.a. an “adult” bedroom). You know, the kind of room with blown glass vases of peonies and carefully arranged stacks of books that make me look super smart. Stuff that won the Pulitzer but in reality put me to sleep by page three.
My sheets are stuffed with crumbs and Legos and a dog that get’s super pissy when you try to make the bed.
I went on an organizing spree a year ago and found one of those doo-dads that hangs in your closets, like soft shelves (a.k.a. Poor Man’s California Closet). Anyway, I neatly folded all the scarves that had been taking up so much room in my dresser.
GO ME! I look like a real adult!
Until the cat climbed it, tossed the scarves on the floor (except the ones he kept for his new nest).
I don’t know. I remember being young and blaming all of this on being young. When I grew up, this would all be different and I would have my $#!& together but the hard truth is I think I very briefly did get my $#!& together back some time in 2011 then put it in a place I would remember where I put it…and now I can’t find it.
I struggle every day to recognize when I am being a lunatic. I only have so much to give and I need to be mindful where I put my energy because “Perfect” is the enemy of the good. “Perfect” will bash your self-esteem, wreck your relationships, and kill your dreams. No one can live up to perfect. And when we are trying to live up to perfect we are being crazy and us being crazy makes everyone around us a little crazy too.
“Perfect” is an especially dangerous enemy these days in an era where we can use filters and tools to make life rose-colored all the time. That perfectly staged picture of a friend’s new living room set that makes your guts twist? Just be happy for her and secretly know that she probably screamed at all her kids to throw the laundry that had been on the couch for six days into the tub so she could get a picture…then used the Lo-Fi filter for extra pizazz (and to blur that weird stain that smells like chili into retro shadow).
I think that sometimes, if we back away and look at WHY many people are posting this stuff, it makes sense to lighten up on ourselves. We live in a world that expects us to be adults (Sucks, right? I know). But often the problem with being an adult is that somewhere people stopped believing we needed compliments and affirmation.
If we do a great job at work, who cares? We are being paid. Our paycheck is supposed to be enough. We didn’t fire you, right?
If the house is clean when our family gets home? There’s not a treat basket we get to reach in and get a cool unicorn pencil or kissing lips eraser and that is fundamentally WRONG.
My husband loves me whether I wear the same pair of pajamas for five days straight because it is NaNo or whether I dress up and often? He doesn’t even recognize the difference.
So if I hope to hear, “You look fantastic!” with any kind of enthusiasm? Yep. Facebook.
No one gives me a sticker that reads, “Your Kid is Alive Another Day! YOU ROCK!” or “You Remembered to Pay the Water BEFORE the City Turned It Off! GO YOU!”
And it can get really discouraging sometimes.
The same can happen in the world of writing.
Don’t compare your everyday life with another author’s “highlight reel.”
I read a crazy amount of books and it’s so easy to get discouraged with the What was I thinking? I suuuuck. I can’t wriiiiiite. But here is the deal, I am not downloading Michael Connelly’s first draft-as-audio-book onto my phone. I am listening to a finished product.
Even if our final draft isn’t as good as INSERT HERO AUTHOR HERE’s work, remember they probably didn’t start out writing that way. They had a learning curve too. Stephen King started writing as a kid. He’d written millions of words and countless stories before Carrie ever came along. Dean Koontz wrote under a pseudonym for years, books that for a long time he really didn’t even like laying claim to.
Natural talent is like a diamond. Found in the natural it looks like a hunk of glass. It takes a lot of chipping away and cutting and polishing before it is seen as anything of value.
So if you are doing NaNoWriMo, fantastic! But perfect is the enemy of the good. Many won’t finish because they just won’t frigging lighten up on themselves. Yes, the house will probably be messy and the kids sticky and wear shoes because I guarantee the cat will puke (in the middle of the night because cats cannot puke in sunlight or on anything but carpet).
Remember that anything on Facebook is often a “highlight reel” because we live in a world where we feel stretched thinner and thinner and often we feel invisible. We sometimes just need that GO YOU! And if we can see that is often what others are needing, then it is easier to stop comparing ourselves because we fed our kid Quick Trip donuts for breakfast instead of a gluten-free dairy-free fritatta with pine nuts off a recipe we saved on Pinterest.
So lighten up. Breathe. Have fun and give yourself a compliment today. Give someone else a compliment. Heck we all need it. In fact, here is a song to remind you…
What are your thoughts? Do you find yourself goofing off too much on social media because you really feel down and just need some affirmation? I do, too. We just need to make sure the short-term thrill isn’t stealing a long-term dream with longer-lasting rewards.
Do you feel burned out and stressed out and you deep down know you are doing it to yourself? That you are being ridiculous? Do you struggle with comparing yourself to your author heroes? Do you find yourself in the habit of perfectionism? Are you like me and harder on yourself than you are on others (which is no great prize because you are just a meth-fueled lunatic with yourself)?
I love hearing from you!
And to prove it and show my love, for the month of NOVEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
TREAT YOURSELF!!!! Check out the Upcoming Classes
Remember that ALL CLASSES come with a FREE RECORDING so you can listen over and over. So even if you can’t make it because the holidays are crazy? No excuses! Take time to be good to yourself!
Important Class for After NaNoWriMo! You might have a New Year’s Resolution to query a novel. Doesn’t matter. Treat yourself to an early Christmas present!
Class Title: Pitch Perfect—How To Write a Query Letter & Synopsis that SELLS
Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $45 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: FRIDAY December 2nd, 2015 7:00 PM E.S.T. to 9:00 P.M. EST
You’ve written a novel and now are faced with the two most terrifying challenges all writers face. The query and the synopsis.
Query letters can be daunting. How do you sell yourself? Your work? How can you stand apart without including glitter in your letter?
***NOTE: DO NOT PUT GLITTER IN YOUR QUERY.
Good question. We will cover that and more!
But sometimes the query is not enough.
Most writers would rather cut their wrists with a spork than be forced to write the dreaded…synopsis. Yet, this is a valuable skills all writers should learn. Synopses are often requested by agents and editors and it is tough not to feel the need to include every last little detail. Synopses are great for not only keeping your writing on track, but also for pitching your next book and your next to that agent of your choice.
This class will help you learn the fundamentals of writing a query letter and a synopsis. What you must include and what doesn’t belong.
So make your writing pitch perfect with these two skills!
Class Title: Plotting for Dummies
Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $35 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: SATURDAY December 3rd, 2016 2:30 PM E.S.T. to 4:30 P.M. EST
Are you tired of starting book after book only to lose steam and be unable to finish? Do you finish, but then keep getting rejected? Do you finish, but it takes an ungodly amount of time? Sure, great you land an agent for your book, but you don’t have FIVE YEARS to write the next one?
This class is here to help. The writers who are making an excellent income are not doing it off ONE book, rather they are harnessing the power of compounded sales. This class is designed to help you learn to plot leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner (even for PANTSERS!)
Learn the basic elements of plot, various plotting techniques, how to test your seed idea to see if it is even strong enough to be a novel and MORE!
Class Title: Blogging for Authors
Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $50 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: FRIDAY December 9th, 7:00 PM E.S.T. to 9:00 P.M. EST
Blogging is one of the most powerful forms of social media. Twitter could flitter and Facebook could fold but the blog will remain so long as we have an Internet. The blog has been going strong since the 90s and it’s one of the best ways to establish a brand and then harness the power of that brand to drive book sales.
The best part is, done properly, a blog plays to a writer’s strengths. Writers write.
The problem is too many writers don’t approach a blog properly and make all kinds of mistakes that eventually lead to blog abandonment. Many authors fail to understand that bloggers and author bloggers are two completely different creatures.
This class is going to cover:
How author blogs work. What’s the difference in a regular blog and an author blog?
What are the biggest mistakes/wastes of time?
How can you effectively harness the power of algorithms (no computer science degree required)?
What do you blog about? What topics will engage readers and help create a following?
How can you harness your author voice using a blog?
How can a blog can help you write leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner?
How do you keep energized years into your blogging journey?
How can a blog help you sell more books?
How can you cultivate a fan base of people who love your genre?
Blogging doesn’t have to be hard. This class will help you simplify your blog and make it one of the most enjoyable aspects of your writing career.