It’s time to stop comparing your writing journey to others’ and find the joy in writing again!
How many writers do you follow on social media? I’m curious, because I follow quite a few. Mostly for inspiration but also because I want to connect with other people who do what I do. And it’s a wonderful and beautiful thing to celebrate and connect with others who share some of the same interests that you do, but there is a dangerous trap present too: comparing writing journeys.
I do this.
I do this a lot, actually. Especially when I see someone younger than I am with a slew of titles to their name and a well-establish career. It’s easy to look in on that and think: well, don’t they just have it all. I bet they’ve never struggled with writing or publishing or self-doubt or any of the things I’m dealing with.
And let me tell you friends, that is a nasty and dangerous game to play.
I can’t completely blame social media, but I do think the comparison trap has gotten worse since social media became such an influence over our lives. Now, we have limitless opportunity to see what strangers all over the world are doing, and it’s easy to look at what is basically their highlight reel and feel like we’re failing.
But social media is not real life, no matter how transparent some people are. It’s a specially curated space, often showing things to gain a certain reaction. And social media isn’t going anywhere, so we need to learn to use it with a few guidelines in mind, especially when it comes to our writing journeys.
Ditch the scarcity mindset.
We often have this idea that if someone else it doing it, there isn’t space for us. As if there is a limit for creativity. I am 100% guilty of this. I see someone sold a book or someone got an agent and immediately feel like I lost something, or I don’t have a chance now.
There is no limit! And holding that mindset of scarcity can no only make you miserable, but can stop you from pursuing creative things, like writing.
There is space for you, too. New readers are born every day, and there are people who want to read what you write. Just because someone else might be writing something similar doesn’t give them a monopoly on writing. There is also space for you.
Your journey is not their journey.
Every. Writing. Journey. Is. Different.
Some writer’s journey to publication is brief and skyrockets them to the NYT bestsellers list. Some people slave away for years before publication. Some writer’s can crank out a book (or more!) a year, and some take 5 years to perfect one novel. Some will write in every market and genre, while some will stay neatly and permanently in their lane. Some people start small and build a career slowly over time and some people explode into the market.
And it’s all wonderful.
Your writing will not look like mine. And mine will not look like yours. And that’s OK! Put blinders on, and focus on your journey, realizing that it’s not supposed to look a certain way.
Be the person who encourages others.
One of the best ways I know to get out of a comparison funk is to focus on encouraging others. Something happens when we stop focusing on ourselves and focus on other people. (This is true in all areas of life, not just writing.)
When we find the joy in other writer’s successes, and can congratulate or encourage other people, it actually takes our self-pitying eyes off of “me” and shifts it outward. It’s a change in the mindset, that can make our writing journey more joyful.
But it is not easy, and it takes a lot of practice and maturity to clamp down on waves of jealousy or envy to support someone else who might have the success you desire. Remember though, you don’t know the full picture, and you have no idea what someone might have gone though to get to that point. Even if you don’t feel like being encouraging, practice it anyway, and the feeling will follow.
Acknowledge and appreciate what you have accomplished.
Finally, take a moment and practice some gratitude and appreciate what you have. Make it writing specific. I don’t care what it is, whether a goal you finally accomplished or even just finally getting a new laptop that actually works so you can write. Take some time and write down things about your writing and journey that you are grateful for.
I used to pray for and dream about things like getting published in Cricket and Highlights magazines. I used to dream about having my own dedicated writing space. I used to dream about writing a book. These are realities now, and I am truly grateful for them. Am I done dreaming and praying for my goals? No. But taking the time to appreciate what you have and what you have done, can help you realize how truly blessed you are.
I’m not saying that you’ll never stop comparing. It’s something we will all have to continually work on. But I think if we can focus on the positive, be grateful, live with an mindset of abundance, and encourage others in a really difficult craft and industry, writing (and life in general) becomes a lot more pleasant and beautiful.
What do you think? Do you struggling with comparison?