Friday, July 2, 2010

Quit Comparing Yourself To Others - Compare Yourself to You

I always laugh at people who compare what they do to other people and then use this as proof of why they can't do something well. I see authors do this all of the time. "You know, I might be an OK writer but I am certainly not as good as Author X." Really?

Authors spend a great deal of time trying to rate their own ability and successes based on what other people do. We see this with those religious followers of the New York Times Best Seller list. We see this with those writers that constantly track their rankings on Barnes and Noble or Amazon (yes, I know one writer that had it on a chart). But I am sorry to say, those comparisions say nothing.

When we look at the list on those ranking sites, they are based on a lot of factors other than simply the writers' abilities to tell great stories. Some of those books move up and down the ranks when they "sell" a lot of the story as a free give-away. This tells us nothing.

Along the same lines, your writing may be a different style that isn't something that sells like the next great pop-culture craze. A friend of our family is a poet. He currently lives in Bisbee, AZ and many have never heard of him. Yet, a far great number have and he is what I would call a success. He decided to be a poet in college and he never looked back. WTG Dick Baaken!

Your writing might also be a different place then someone else. I am sure I have mentioned this before but it is worth restating. I always get frustrated when I hear those big name writers discussing where they are at in their career and the struggles or successes they were having at that moment. I want to scream out loud on this one! They are at a different point in their life. One author I listened to had been writing for over 30 years, and the first 15-20 were real struggles. It wasn't until the end of that time that she had finally "made it."

So, who do you compare your writing to? Yourself! Go back and look at that first piece of writing you did. Piece of garbage, right? Now look at your writing. Better? You are being successful then. Keep it up!

Have a great 4th. I am off to the airport for Houston. See you there ladies!



  1. Thanks for this post today, Scott... I've found myself, in my current manuscript, doing a whole lot of comparing myself to others, and I appreciate the reality check.

  2. It's so true, Scott, thanks for reminding me.

    It's hard enough trying to do your best without having to compare yourself to other people. It's like jogging with someone who is naturally fast than you or slower than you.

    To compare, you're always going to feel as if you're catching up or going too fast. Everyone has their own pace, their own journey to take. Mine may not be on the same path as everyone else yet our destination could be the same.

  3. Scott...maybe editors and agents shouldn't ask writers who they compare their writing too!!! I've done several live pitches and this question comes up. BarbW