If we’re honest, we’ll admit we crave feedback – feedback of the positive kind. We want to know our writing is good, that our words connect with others, and that we inspire, entertain, or educate. We seek affirmation; we yearn validation. Whether we admit it or not, we have an ego needing to be stroked.
At the same time, we secretly fear we’re no good—and one day everyone else will know it, too.
So we compare ourselves to others. We do this to our destruction—seriously. Our self-esteem is at stake.
Some days we see only those who are better than we are: more talented, better connected, luckier, more successful, having greater sales, making more money (or any money at all), or published more. We’ll always find those folks, diminishing ourselves in the process.
Other times we see those who aren’t as good as we are: producing less, struggling more, not yet published, toiling in obscurity, and making mistakes we no longer commit. We’ll always find those folks, too, deluding ourselves in the process.
Every writer makes both of these comparisons. The only difference is the ratio we employ. Regardless, making comparisons is not a constructive exercise.
Perhaps the only one we need to compare ourselves to is ourselves. Are we improving? Is our work today better than our writing from yesterday, last year, and when we started?
Or maybe we just need to resolve to do the best we possibly can – every day – and avoid comparisons altogether.
May we all write well, with much excellence and abounding in joy, forgetting all others and pushing ourselves forward.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.