Do you look at all the other bloggers, writers and artists online and wonder, how on earth can I compete?
It's hard not to. It seems every other writer is so much further ahead. They have over a 100 products. Or they have some mega bestseller under their belt. Or they already have legions of fans.
And then there are the others - the ones that your pretty sure aren't doing so well but they've got the whole self promotion thing sussed. They spam people every day. They offer free samples of their books, or they're actively seeking out opportunities, they get interviewed, they blog - the whole caboodle.
And then there's you and me - sitting at home, writing - wondering where the bus left from - and why were we late getting on it?
I was listening to the radio this morning and the DJ asked a musician how his band could possibly top their last album. How do you go about that, the DJ wanted to know.
"You don't," said the muso. "That's how agents and managers and producers think. Musicians don't think like that. We just want to play and be heard - and stretch ourselves sometimes - because being an artist is its own reward."
I couldn't agree more.
Sometimes when I'm at home, in between projects, I'm wondering what to do with myself. I get lost in a sea of possibilities. I'm like a rudderless boat, drifting without purpose. Robyn knows when I get like this because I mooch around the house, annoying her and complaining about everything and nothing. She worries for me. She knows I need another project - but that I'm in limbo, again, wondering where best to dedicate my energy.
Should I write another novel?
Should I produce another course?
Should I record another song?
Should I make another movie?
Or should I start some new marketing strategy?
I'll take the dog for more walks than he wants (if that's possible) because I'm mulling over ideas, forcing the inspiration, looking for something to grab hold of and run with. I buy stuff I don't need. I cook more. I tidy the house. I'll keep suggesting to Robyn that we go on holiday somewhere - because when we're away I often come up with a dozen new project ideas.
But I know that all I really want is inspiration. Something that grabs me - and won't let go.
Now, the point is, whenever I ask myself, what can I do to compete - I get nothing.
Well, actually, things occur to me but they don't have the pizzazz to really get under my skin. Sometimes I'll do quite a lot of work on an idea but if it doesn't have that 'under-skin' quality I generally fizzle on the idea - and shelve it.
No, what I'm really looking for is absorption. Immersion. To be totally overwhelmed by the execution of a project - but that can only happen when the idea comes from within.
No amount of external influences seem to create that certain buzz you get when you really want to do something that feels somehow important.
I guess what each of us think of as important pretty much defines our lives.
Some people think family is important.
Some people think security is important.
Most people think love is important.
And money too.
But only artists and entrepreneurs think that creativity is important.
Pretty much everyone likes to be entertained - by stories, reality TV and celebrities.
But most people would run a mile instead of actually sitting down to explore a creative project, work on it, write it, promote and sell it and see it through to completion. That takes dedication - and maybe a little insanity.
There are so many easier ways to spend your time.
Unless you're like me - and can't feel satisfied unless I'm creating something.
I need a sense of purpose.
And creating something new can give me that.
Do you feel the same? If you follow my blogs and my sites, my guess is that you do.
So, to answer the question in the first paragraph, how do you compete with all the other creative people out there?
The simple answer is that you don't. You don't even think about them. What matters is that you explore your own mind - find what truly inspires you - and follow where that leads you.
Follow your heart, follow your instincts. Listen to that small voice inside that will lead you to your own version of important.
And go with that.
If you live your life like it's a competition, there will always be days when you losing. Feeling inferior.
But if you live as though every day is a voyage of personal discovery, exploration and conquest, you'll rarely feel anything less than full of wonder.
Don't look outside for inspiration. Don't follow the herd. Look within.
Express yourself through your work - and you'll never have to worry about what anyone else is doing.
And ironically, it's then that you become fascinating - because you have the integrity to be yourself.
And that's what people like!