Thursday, June 15, 2017

Don't Compare Yourself To Other Writers

A Post By Jonathan

This post is mostly for newbie writers, so you more seasoned folks (who have learned to avoid the majority of writing's many mental pitfalls) can tune this one out. I bet this isn't the first time you've heard this, but I think it's something that cannot be understated.

Teddy Roosevelt said that "Comparison is the thief of joy." And I wholeheartedly believe it. You can easily apply his quote to the writing life as well. Comparison can take the joy out of writing too, if you let it. I think being a successful/prolific writer is just as much about the mental approach to our craft as the actual act. You may have the natural or accumulated talent to be an amazing writer, but if you can't get out of your own head/your own way long enough to figure that out then you may never know.

I am saying this to myself just as much as anyone else. Maybe it's because I have been watching a lot of Ekhart Tolle videos lately. He's basically a western guru, and talks a lot about mindfulness, the inner critic (also known as the inner-editor) and other things that we writers should be thinking (or at least know) about. Here are his thoughts on comparison and how to relate to yourself and other human beings. I would recommend his videos on mindfulness and moving away from negative thoughts as well.

While this next example isn't really writing related, it is definitely comparison-related. I have this friend who is a real super star in my field. He's about my age, and just got promoted to a VP position at his place of work. I, meanwhile, just took a pay cut and a step back at mine. Not comparing myself to him is hard, but I have done a lot in my career that he hasn't. And we're just in different situations. My wife is actually the riser in our family-- and I have had to make a lot of sacrifices to support her career. I am happy for my friend, but what I should really be focusing on is myself and my own accomplishments.

That's typically the way it is in the writing industry. I have author friends who are tearing it up! Some are a part of this blog-- and I'm so lucky to be associated with them. But I'm me and they are them. Some people are slow starters and some people are quick to rise. But we all have different life situations that either allow us more time to write and focus on our craft and some are in a different season. All we can do, newbie writers, is focus on ourselves and what we can achieve.

Are you with me? Keep your heads down and don't bring them up until you're done writing!


Stephen Kozeniewski said...

You said it, Jonathan!

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I bet even vets can't help but compare themselves to other writers. But you're right -- you're you, I'm me. We do we.

Jonathan Schramm said...

I guess I did, didn't I?!

Jonathan Schramm said...

We do we really well around here, Kimberly! Keep on the keepin' on, sister!

Carrie Beckort said...

Great reminder, Jonathan! It's so hard to not compare to others. I'm also finding it difficult to not compare each of my new books to the previous. The fear of if it will be worse or if I haven't shown enough growth in my writing doesn't seem to go away. When I find I'm in that negative state of mind, I also try to remind myself of some of Tolle's messages - primarily to stay in the present.

Brenda St John Brown said...

The Indie Tea (which is geared primarily towards romance writers, but is a FAB resource for indie writers) has a great series on Handling Author Envy. It's so hard not to compare, but at the end of the day it doesn't do YOUR career any good.

Cheryl Oreglia said...

Thank you Jonathan for this awesome reminder, our human tendency is to look over the fence, often forgetting the beauty of our own gardens.

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