We need to treat the literary marketplace like a gym. Our own insecurities, time restraints, and creative responsibility are the weights we're lifting. The promotional hustle is your cardio. They aren't setbacks; they're just an occasion to rise to. Each time we sit down to churn out another chapter is a rep. Hopefully we're increasing the weight we're lifting with every project. No one wants to plateau. If a particular set is painful, it's just building muscle. Hype yourself up. Make a playlist for yourself or find an album that gets your in the right meditative state to start grinding. You've gotta make sure to eat lots and to eat healthy. Stephen King called himself the Big Mac of literature. It can be fun to eat like a teenager every now and again but you don't need that shit. Go get something high in protein. Catch up with the Greeks. You need role models, posters on the wall with literary bodies you'd like to someday amount to the equivalent of. It's motivation. Nobody has ever lifted two hundred pounds before they could lift eighty.
Your peers in the gym aren't the enemy. Don't forget that they're training with you, not against you. The only one you're competing with is the (wo)man in the mirror. Everyone is on their own hero's journey. You can choose to be someone who holds some branches so they can pass through easier or you can obstruct their path. The thing is, your actions only reflect your own character. I think of criticism as spotting another artist. I'm not pressing the weights down against them. I'm trying to help them perfect their form. You should always use criticism kind-heartedly. If you find yourself not having the artist's best intentions in mind, just stay out of their way. I don't like Tim Burton's movies, so I don't fuck with 'em. I don't like what he does, so there's no need for me to criticize it. Don't forget that these people are your brothers and sisters. You might butt heads, but at the end of the day, you're on the same team.
Another thing is, you can't compare yourself to other people. You might not be lifting as much as the girl next to you but she might be five years further down her path than yours. The guy next to you might do twice as much cardio but can't lift the same that you can. It doesn't matter. You're not racing each other and ultimately, you want to spread your tips of the trade so that you can all make for better art. I'm assuming that most writers also enjoy reading a good book. If you see someone in need, take a second to help them out. Spot them, hook them up with a trainer (You know, an editor or some shit.), the cost of one book could cover the admission fee for another day at the gym for some authors. It's a community built around self-improvement. Help each other help yourselves.
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