“Comparison is the death of joy.” – Mark Twain
I hate to admit it, but one of my worst habits is comparing myself to other writers…usually when I’m in the throes of fearing that I’m not good enough at what I do. Of course, this is wildly unproductive, and I know it. Constant comparison is a recipe for allowing the unholy trinity of Fear, Resistance and Doubt to barge into my psyche and send me scurrying off to Procrastionationville.
But worst of all, it takes all the fun out of writing.
How can I enjoy listening for my characters voices and creating killer stories for them to play around in if I’m busy obsessing over whether or not I’ll ever step into Stephen King’s literary shoes? Or wondering if I should try to write more like JK Rowling?
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with studying another author’s work and learning from it. But using that same work to beat yourself over the head with comparisons and critiques is pointless at best, and toxic at worst. How many millions of stories never saw the light of day because their creator s mistakenly believed they didn’t measure up?
As Steven Pressfield wrote in the final lines of The War of Art: “Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
Do you compare yourself to others too often? How have you been able to break that habit?