As writers, we all have struggles to overcome when we start out and are knee-deep in an 80,000-word book. The constant questions and doubts running through your mind can start to overwhelm you, and if it does, maybe you think it just isn’t worth it to keep going. Or that you need to delete the whole project and forget about it.
Well, I am here to tell you, do not do anything of that sort. You are a writer. You live, sleep, and dream about characters, plots, and even movie adaptations that you hope will become a reality someday. Don’t give that up just because it’s hard or you don’t think you are good enough.
Some of the main struggles that I and other writers have gone through or even worried about are:
“Am I a good writer?”
“Does this sound right?”
“Good Lord, this is awful. I’m deleting that and starting over.”
“What is my writing voice?”
“How would this compare to (insert author here)?”
And many more. But the main topic of this post is to help you stop comparing yourself to other writers. If you clear that doubt from your judgment, you will be one step closer to success. Here are some ways to show how comparing impacts your life, and some tips to help you overcome it.
“Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against your authentic self.” -Iyanla Vanzant
1. Comparing Stops the Learning Process
By focusing on others’ work and always envying what they do, it can stop the process of learning how that person is successful or how they write so well. If you focus on finding their secrets to success, then you will be able to apply it to your own work.
2. Don’t Compare Yourself to the Likes of, Say, Stephen King
If you are comparing your unpublished, never-before-seen-by-the-public work to the likes of the best books by the best authors, you are only putting yourself down, and it will negatively impact your work. As a first time author or a newly published one trying to get your work noticed, you can’t expect to be as good as them. I know it’s hard to hear, and sometimes the truth hurts. Focus on yourself only. Think of ways you can be successful in your own right. Sit down and write the best way you know you can, so you don’t even need to think about those high-end authors.
3. Comparing Takes Away Control
By constantly comparing yourself to others, you are letting it not only impede your judgment but also take control of your life. It will negatively impact your emotions and values. It’s a destructive habit that only you can get out of. By taking back the control over your life, you can choose to be positive and focus on what really matters — your own work.
“Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique. Be memorable. Be confident. Be proud.” -Shannon L. Alder
4. If You Need to Compare, Compare Yourself
Sometimes comparing and competing can be beneficial instead of negatively impacting. Don’t compare yourself to James Patterson; instead, compare yourself to yourself. Think about what you have achieved in life and see how successful you have become already.
Look at the progress you have made in your book — have you written 50,000 words? That’s awesome! Use this shift of thought to help you overcome negative habits, and it will only show in your work to come.
5. Break the Habit
If none of those tips helped you, and you are still having a hard time with comparing yourself to others, try to break the habit. The first step is to be aware of when you are judging yourself or your work to others. When you do, stop yourself and think: “I am better than this. I am a good person and a good writer.” Think about positive things like how you won that writing contest, or any positive aspect of your life. Don’t focus on your weaknesses but rely on your strengths to help you overcome negative thoughts. And finally, be yourself.
If you are OK with who you are and how you do you, you won’t need to compare yourself to others. Stay focused, stay positive, and kick that nasty habit to the curb. By doing this one simple thing, the only direction your life is going is up!
“Whatever your passion is, keep doing it. Don’t waste time chasing after success or comparing yourself to others. Every flower blooms at a different pace. Excel at doing what your passion is and only focus on perfecting it. Eventually, people will see what you are great at doing, and if you are truly great, success will come chasing after you.”-Suzy Kassem