Friday, May 9, 2014

Keeping up, measuring up

We writers sometimes compare ourselves to other writers, even though we know it's unrealistic and doesn't make a lot of sense. We're all on different paths of different lengths, with different starting points and different goals--yet the impulse to glance over and see where we are in relation to the person in the next lane is, apparently, irresistible.

It's not even about beating someone else, as in a race. I know very few writers who think that way. It's more like feeling that we need to "keep up" or "stay on track." It's about a fear of falling behind, getting lost, not measuring up. And so the internal monologue around this may go: I should be writing X words a day, because so-and-so writes that much. Or, I should be on my Nth novel now, because so-and-so's first novel came out at the same time as mine, and her Nth novel just came out. Or it could be about advances, sales, awards, guest-speaker slots, length of signing lines--any of the markers we try to use to gauge our success.

This is why I recommend Jody Casella's recent post, in which she says, "I also have to learn over and over to stop comparing myself to other writers." Her post also contains an invitation to other writers to share your process for possible inclusion (with attribution) in a conference presentation. That opportunity, with a deadline of June 30, is a way to celebrate and reinforce the fact that there are as many ways to write as there are writers.

4 comments:

  1. That is so true. I never feel as if I'm doing/writing enough. "I should be working on that WIP." "I should re-write that scene." "I should...."

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    1. There is always more to do, so we get to decide when enough is enough. :)

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  2. I think I'm finally getting to a point where I don't compare my actual process with anyone else's. Other things, maybe, but not that part so much anymore. I've noticed my productivity had increased.

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    1. It's good when we get to the point of trusting our own process.

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