Confessions About Comparisons


Photo credit: crsan / / CC BY

I’m going to confess something big: I compare myself to other writers. And I hate that I do it. I’m constantly measuring myself against other people to see how I stack up, and judging myself harshly. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing how well my writerly friends are doing. I rejoice when you have a good day, and I’m sincere when I congratulate you. Honestly, I think you are absolutely awesome. But as for me, I’m judging myself against your brilliance, and I’m falling very short.

I don’t need anyone to judge me. Not when I have a whole committee in my own head dedicated to that. Nothing anyone can say to me could be as bad as what that negative committee says to me on my worst days. I should have more dedication. I should be able to get out of bed at 4am to write. I should be able to stay up editing until 2 in the morning. I should love what I do enough to dedicate all my waking hours to it instead of giving in to exhaustion at the end of the day and watching TV instead.

Most days, nothing I do seems to be good enough. If I have a good writing day, then I should have written longer, got another couple of thousands down while the going was good. If I have a bad day, then what’s wrong with me? I’m a writer. I should be able to write. I look at my progress, and cringe at the quality of my prose, berating myself over that twenty minutes I spent on YouTube instead of writing more. I look at what other writer are doing and sharing and I want to hide my own work so no one will ever see it.

I compare myself to other writers, and I know I can never match them.

It’s what makes me so reluctant to share my word counts. I don’t want to judge myself off other people’s reactions. I don’t like to share excerpts, because I’ve judged my writing so harshly that nothing looks worth anyone’s time reading. I don’t like to show people what I’m doing, because, in my mind, it’s not as good as what they’re is doing. When I share my lovely colourful word count graph on Wednesday, and slip in a few excerpts, I’m fighting against my inner critic, quaking in my shoes as I wonder if I’ve done enough.

So why am I confessing this? Because I know I’m not alone. Lots of writers compare themselves to other writers. I see it over and over during NaNoWriMo. “I only wrote x number of words.” “I can only write x amount in an hour.” “I wish I could write as fast as you. I’m so slow.” The negative committee is meeting in our heads and boy are they having a party up there. I think sometimes we need to be reminded that there are other people out there who are also insecure about their writing, who also compare themselves to other writers and find themselves lacking. You’re not alone.

There’s no point in comparing ourselves to anyone else, because their journey is not our journey. The way they write is not the way we write. And maybe they’re sitting at their desks feeling super insecure about what they do too. Even the most brilliant writers have times when they don’t feel that what they’re doing is as good as what everyone else is doing. Most of the time you can’t tell from the outside, because everyone wants to hide it. I hide it. I bet you hide it too.

The way you write is good enough. You are good enough, just the way you are. You don’t need to be ashamed of the way you write. You are unique. And it’s impossible to judge one unique item against another. It’s not fair to either of them. How can you compare the Mona Lisa to the Taj Mahal? You can’t. It’s impossible. And you can’t compare one writer to another. You are a work of art, and so is your process. Tell that negative committee in your head to take a tea break, and be proud of yourself. 

What is one thing you're proud of having done today? Share an excerpt you're proud of in the comments! Or tell me someone you really admire and make someone else feel good today. I admire you all. You are all so amazing to me.

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  1. This. Yes. This. I wrote a post kind of like this on my blog a few weeks ago but this one's amazing.

    My big thing was writing 2k the other day. I've never written that much in a day before, and it was an amazing feeling. I was afraid my friends would think it was kind of pathetic, since most of them are writing 2k in five minutes(an exaggeration), but they were /so so so/ supportive and happy and proud of me and it was pretty much the best feeling ever.

    1. Congratulations on your achievement! That's the great thing about writing friends, isn't it? They're always ready to celebrate everything. I think that's because we all know what it's like to have hard days and how important encouragement is.

  2. Thank you for this, really. I compare myself to writers all the time. Heck, I compare myself to other bloggers all the time. I find myself saying "I'll never be as good at them at _____" constantly. But it's posts like yours that really pick me up Imogen, thank you.


    1. Me too actually. There are several bloggers I look and wish I was like them. But it's very important to remember that you're good enough as you are. I'm so glad that you found this post encouraging!


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