Friday, November 4, 2011

Joy thief! Come back with my WIP!

So I found a quote the other day that just about slapped me senseless:

(free printable courtesy of

Confession: I compare. I compare with others way too much. And when I compare with a million other people, I'm bound to find the very best, the flukes, the sudden successes and whatnot and---WITHOUT regards to the fact that everything between me and the other person is completely different except the fact that I like to write or insert other endeavor here---I'll think:

"Why am I not as good as them?"

"Why can't I write a book in 9 days? Or 17? Or a month? Or even six months?"

"Why do they have a agent/book deal and I don't?"

"Why do they have 10,000 followers and I only have 13?"

"Why won't anyone buy my painting/e-books/ad space/serialized webcomic/selflessly self-published self-help book?"

And of course, somewhere on the internet someone is making a mint over it and people are lauding their brilliance and talent.

And we think to ourselves: "WHY NOT ME?"

But as Theodore Roosevelt said (why am I not president? Wait, no.) "Comparison is the thief of joy." When I think crappy questions like that, I'm taking a heck of a lot away from the good things about my art and writing. Maybe I can't write a book in ten days, but I can do in in ten months. That's better than nothing! And maybe I don't have a million followers...but I know every follower I do have and I adore them to death. And who am I to pick and choose what I compare? Maybe they've got a seven figure book deal, but they don't have a lick of artistic talent. And they don't have my cute kid. And they don't have any idea how to make my killer spicy spaghetti sauce. Since when are we allowed to pick and choose when comparing a life? Are we not a culmination of everything we do?

As NaNoWriMo gets under way, comparison seems to be the thing to do: how far am I along today compared to writer A, B or John Green? If this gets you motivated, by all means keep going. As former agent Nathan Bransford said, it's good to have deadlines with teeth. If those teeth of comparison make you a better writer, by all means go on with your bad teethy self.

But if comparison is making you slow down, get jealous and stop all together, put out an APB and haul that thief in. There's enough out there keeping you from being happy. Don't let writing be one of them.


Adam Heine said...

HE'S RIDING A MOOSE! Dang, that man was just the best president ever.

Queen 'Bina said...

Next time you feel compelled to compare, remember there is someone out there feeling dwarfed by YOU, little miss awesome-pants (PANTS! there it is again!) Is it unhealthy to feel initmidated by your OWN awesomeness?
Time for therapy? Oh, yeah. Word therapy!

Peggy Eddleman said...

Wait. Are you saying that I shouldn't compare myself to you? Dang! What am I going to do now?!

(Seriously. When I say to someone "My friend Marie... [fill in the blank]" and they say, "Who's Marie?" I always say, "My friend who's just like me only ten times better at everything." True story.)

Your quote reminds me of another that I'm sure someone really cool said. I don't remember it exactly, but it was about how people don't usually compare their strengths-- they compare their weaknesses to another person's strengths. And that's sorta like going to battle using your pinkie toe as your only weapon against... I don't know... a rocket launcher.

Keriann Greaney Martin said...

You are the epitome of awesome! There are so many things about you that I admire/am jealous of. You're kick-a** drawing skills, your personality that just makes me burst with happiness, your kid is freakin' ADORABLE, I now must try this spicy tomato sauce, that you are in Japan right now - SO MANY THINGS.

I think everyone, no matter what level they are, can't help but compare themselves to more successful people. To me, it's a motivator as long as you don't let it consume you. They should inspire you.

OMG, I love Peggy's comment! Heehee.

Keriann Greaney Martin said...

D'oh! I used the wrong type of "your". I swear, that hardly ever happens to me. *hides in shame*

Taffy said...

Thanks for the post! Something I needed today :)