Monday, April 28, 2014

Focus on the Tree, Not the Forest

Hundreds of thousands of new books are written each year on an endless array of topics.  The odds of becoming a successful novelist are about the same as getting struck by lightning on your way to claiming your winning lottery ticket.  As an aspiring writer, it's easy to become frustrated by the enormity of the task, the vastness of it all.  

I've concluded there isn't much I can do about the playing field.  It is what it is. Each year will present thousands of new writers, and many will possess education and natural abilities superior to mine.  It's unlikely the competition is going to let up anytime soon.  So, I’ve decided the best thing I can do is focus on me.

Sure, I should strive to learn from others and to improve my product, taking from them what I find applies to my style of writing and my intended audience, but if I find myself focusing too much on what’s going on around me, I tend to lose track of my writing and my goals.  

I liken it to being a tree in the forest. Any single tree seems lost, unimportant, insignificant, but if you shrink your focus to include only the space surrounding the tree, its role and importance are magnified.  It has a job to do, a space to fill, and the sky’s the limit.

And so is my role in writing.  I have a job to do, an audience to reach. I may be but a single tree in the vast forest of writers, but I can’t let that get in my way.  And to those critics who recommend putting limitations on how many and which authors are published, you may just as well propose culling lesser trees from the forest.  What would remain would not be as grand as the original forest, and besides, some of those lesser trees are still growing.     



  1. You are so right. And I really like the comparison of a writer to a tree! Or writers to a forest. Anyone who hasn't tried their hand at writing has no clue how slow and tedious a procedure it really is. Nor can they expect that everyone should and can be able to write 24/7. I'm always feel like I'm put on a guilt trip when I hear people say each day what they've accomplished. For me, working 24/7 just isn't physically possible. You said a mouthful in this post and I commend you for it! I suppose I'm just one of those lesser trees.

  2. Hi Deb,
    I checked out your website. You have offered a lot of good advise. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This post has a sad truth, but also a sense of hope in it. Do you have a word count goal for the day or week?

  4. I don't set word goals. Rather, on good days when ideas are flowing, I stick with it. I've written as many as 5,000 words in a day, and on other days I struggle to get to 200.