On the Comparison Trap

Posted August 13, 2015 by Amanda Shofner in Writing / 4 Comments

Comparison-TrapListen, writers, we need to talk.

As lonely as writing can be, sometimes it can be even lonelier when you see your writing buddies or role models slapping down more words and publishing more successful books than you are.

It’s easy to forget we’re unique. That we have circumstances or skills or brains different from everyone else. That our writing process and output should be different from everyone’s.

And yet.

We often find ourselves believing that if we don’t write or edit or outline like someone else, there’s something wrong or weird with our process.

You feel the need to justify yourself and your process for being… you.

Seriously, writers? Knock it off.

Your process is perfect, unless it’s not working for you, in which case, change it. It’s really that simple.

You’re pretty great yourself, and it doesn’t matter that you’re not like the million other writers out there. In fact, it’s good that you’re not.

There’s nothing wrong with writing slower than others. There’s nothing wrong with having multiple story ideas or focusing on one at a time. There’s nothing wrong with loving revisions or hating them.

If you’re writing and you’re editing, and it’s working for you — your book gets completed — why are you so worried about what you’re doing compared to what others are?

Why does it matter?

Why do you think you should work and think and operate like everyone else?

What’s the harm in being you?

What’s the harm in embracing being you?

If there’s one mistake I see writers make, it’s spending too much time worried about their work in relation to others.

Fingers on the keyboard. Pen on the paper. Write. Write until your book is finished. Edit until it shines. Put it out into the world.

That’s all you need to do.

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4 responses to “On the Comparison Trap

  1. It’s that simple and that hard.

    When I work out, which is almost every day or I instantly turn into a blimp (in my head, anyway), I have one rule: you must work out before dinner. It’s practical, because who could work out AFTER dinner, really, and because that would be pretty late most of the time. But it’s also like NO DINNER UNLESS YOU WORK OUT, which is a big motivator. I get hungry, I like dinner.

    Anyway, I don’t usually have a word count but I definitely have writing goals for each day, so BEFORE email and BEFORE Facebook and BEFORE Twitter, I bang that stuff out. Because at the end of the day I can lay my head on my pillow with great satisfaction that I wrote what I wanted to write WAY more than if I had fun on Twitter. I banged out 110,000 for a new novel in about 3 1/2 months and it’s with betas starting yesterday, but I can’t tell you what’s up with I Am Cate or whatever the Bruce Jenner debacle is called. (Cate? Cait? I think it’s Cait.)

    Writing, for me, is Christmas morning, and I get to enjoy it every day. Why would I deprive myself of that? And as long as the other stuff gets done, who cares? Cait doesn’t care, that’s for sure.

    I care, and that’s enough. On to the next novel for the next three months.

    I write, I put out stories, and as long as I work out before dinner, I sleep great.

    • Changing your process is simple; changing your mindset is not. 😉 I find that once I stop focusing on what I “should” do or what I “should” accomplish, it’s much easier to get down to business and write. But accomplishing THAT can be difficult.

      I like focusing on time-related writing goals — so I usually have set times to write. Whatever word count I get is good. Also, CONGRATS on finishing your 110k novel. That’s AWESOME. 🙂

  2. I love this. (I just wrote a post about comparisons, too.) It’s something I definitely struggle with. But you’re right – we all have our own unique creative process. That’s why I’m so wary of all the writing how-to’s and rules out there. We need to find what works for us. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Totally agree, Athena! If a piece of advice doesn’t work for you, it’s basically worthless. It’s so easy to forget that just because it works for someone doesn’t mean it’ll work for us.

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