Friday, March 29, 2013

Don't Compare Yourself to Others

You've probably heard people say that you can't compare yourself to other writers. In truth, you can. But you shouldn't. Why? Think about this. Your book comes out and you watch your release day sales. Your rank is good and you even make some best seller lists on Amazon. Great, right? Yes. But then you go to that place. The one where you wonder how So-and-so's book did on it's release day, which happens to be the same day as yours. Don't check! Seriously, don't.

Writer envy is never good. Writers should support each other, and we should also celebrate our own successes, no matter how they compare to others. Who cares if So-and-so's book did better out of the gate? Good for So-and-so. You aren't them. Your journey will be your own. Congratulate So-and-so and then be happy that people are reading your book.

The same goes for when you're querying. We all see other writers get agents and wonder when it will happen for us. Don't compare the number of rejections you've gotten. Don't think about how many months you've been querying compared to your friend. Be happy for other writers and keep pushing forward with your own work.

How do you avoid writer envy and/or the urge to compare yourself to others?


69 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Yes, it is very hard sometimes, but it's necessary for our sanity.

      Delete
  2. So far I've avoided writer envy, and am genuinely happy for each person's success, because it gives me hope for mine. So I guess that's how I avoid it? I turn it into hope and inspiration. I feel that someday I'll be there, and I want others to be happy for me, and encouraged, not envious.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great way to at it, Shannon. :)

      Delete
  3. Well, in some respects, I don't think you can escape it completely.

    There is such a thing as things writers have to know, but lay readers don't, you know?

    I feel like only lay readers can follow that advice as you imply it. Readers don't have to analyze books like writers do, Kelly. I doubt you did before you started on your journey.

    As a former teacher, you should know better than me you evaluate books you read for you own personal enjoyment, differently than books you pick our for/with your daughter, versus the students you taught.

    Even when you're NOT trying to emulate another writer who writes what you do, as I often get accused of, you just can't always escape it.

    In the age where I'm supposed to be a one-person marketing guru AND a competent writer, this ideal seems more RARE to achieve than you imply.

    No, envy doesn't help or feel good. That doesn't mean it's easy to avoid or get rid of.

    It's also possible that envy is caused by feeling stuck in your current "No man's land" nexus where you're not progressing that someone similar to yourself are navigating a little faster.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Taurean, it's by no means easy. But is you area always comparing yourself, it can be maddening. We have to be thankful for our own successes and congratulate others on theirs. That's all I'm saying.

      Delete
    2. I wasn't arguing against that at all. I was just making the point that there just ARE things writers have to know that lay readers who aren't writers don't, is that not a valid point?

      Some of those writer centric things (i.e. Query Letters) frankly force us non-hobbyists to think about books in ways lay readers don't have to.

      Believe me, I know better than anyone that being consumed by envy or being in the shadow of other writers who do what I do (In the broad sense) is unhealthy.

      But if you want to published, you can't avoid some level of comparison, even some writers who say they don't worry about that still face this issue, they just may not STRUGGLE the same ways I do in this regard.

      How have you circumvented this issue, Kelly?

      Delete
    3. Well, when people say my books remind them of another, I choose to see that as a compliment. ;) As far as comparing myself to others, I just try not to stalk others and see how their books are doing. Though if I see a marketing tactic that appears to be working for someone else, I'll try something similar.

      Delete
  4. When I hear someone getting an agent or a book published, it only makes me happy. It makes me believe in myself even more, because it shows we all have a chance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we all do have a chance. I know it's normal to have that "when is it my turn" feeling, but we shouldn't let it override our happiness for others.

      Delete
  5. Awesome post. Can we go as far as blogger envy? I still consider myself a newbie even though I've been bloggie since December. While I can't check other's page views, I still wonder how they are doing. The same goes for Facebook page likes. Patience is key but oh so hard.

    Thanks for sharing Kelly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's my blog. It's a mix of personal and book reviews. Maybe if my book reviews start taking off, I'll separate the two.

      Thanks!
      www.samedinamics.blogspot.com

      Delete
    2. Sure. We can add blogs and FB in there. Dianne, I need your blog link. I can't find it anywhere and I want to make sure I return the comment love. :)

      Delete
    3. LOL. We were commenting at the same time. Thank you! I'm heading over now.

      Delete
  6. Ha, I was thinking about writing a very similar post today! I'm always fighting the impulse to make comparisons. I think part of it is that I'm a perfectionist, so I want to make sure that I'm doing everything I should be. But that's not necessarily the healthiest approach. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know exactly what you mean. I'm a perfectionist, too. I want to be everywhere and do everything. LOL. Not great for the mind or body though.

      Delete
    2. At least no one can accuse you being lazy in your efforts, Kelly, that's something positive to take away from your ability/desire to not rest on your laurels too long, whereas I have issues with being too complacent, yet at the same time feel like I'm stretching myself too thin, ALL AT THE SAME TIME! Oy...

      Delete
  7. Great article. I don't really envy other writers' success. I'm happy for them and have hope for the future that one day my books will be best sellers too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the perfect attitude to have. :)

      Delete
  8. Wow - this post is really timely for me, Kelly. It can be a little dispiriting to see others get agents and deals month after month while all I get is rejections. I'm honestly happy for all the successful writers - they work hard and deserve it. But it makes me feel I'm in the wrong business and should give up. Well, it won't be the end of the world if I do. I still love me whether I'm a writer or not! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't forget we all went through those rejections, and still do. Don't let it discourage you. I cried the most right before I signed with my agent and again right before I got my first deal. This industry is tough.

      Delete
  9. I try to write that story I was born to write, and I celebrate my steps along the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great way to do it, Catherine.

      Delete
  10. Personally, I never cross that line. It's as you said, not good and can be wreck havoc with a person's psyche. We all have a unique destiny. Will that journey yield the dreams in our respective hearts? Probably not all of them, maybe not exactly how we planned, but there will be surprises and gifts we never imagined. I choose to believe we can encourage our destiny by our efforts and choices. If a writer writes and does everything the rule book says - will she have a villa in Barcelona and a room of her own? Maybe, maybe not, but she won't have time to dream the dream if she frets about why the other writer has this or that and she doesn't. I think the most a writer can do is to stay focused on their own journey and be supportive of friends. It's a damn hard journey from page one to THE END, to Agent, to deal, to Amazon. Keep writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is a hard journey. We do have to focus on our own journey and support others. Well said, Brenda.

      Delete
  11. Such important advice! The only reason to write is because you love it. Otherwise, everything else that goes along with it will drive you nuts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's true. It will. Hey, guess what I put on my Kindle this morning. ;)

      Delete
  12. I learned to stop comparing myself to more successful writers because it seriously messes with you mojo. But at times you can't help it. It's human nature...like comparing your children. You shouldn't do it but you do. At least I know I do.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "You've probably heard people say that you can't compare yourself to other writers. In truth, you can. But you shouldn't."
    Perfectly said^, Kelly. This is part of my angst with all artistic competitions. Give me a stopwatch and a start+finish line any day. These I understand.
    Years ago I worked for a very special person. He told me he never looks to the right or the left, just works harder and tries to better his own work. I knew my boss well, and this indeed was his true work ethic.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great post, Kelly! I've struggled with writers envy, but indie publishing has helped because I am more in control of my own career, rather than waiting for an agent to love me.

    I have to be careful not to envy others' productivity. Sometimes I feel like a snail when it comes to getting a book done. But, we all have our own way.

    Thanks for the encouraging words. I am cheering for your book's success!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Michelle. We all do work at different paces. I know I work at different paces for each manuscript, too.

      Delete
  15. This is a hard one, but I try to keep in mind that just like no one else can write the same book as me, no one can have the same path as me. How I get to wherever I'm going isn't comparable to someone else.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is very true Kelly. But then it is human nature too. Envy is something we are born with however big a saint we are. What makes us different is like competition if we turn envy in something positive. If I envy you, can you not take it as a compliment that I am saying publicly you are better than me? And if you envy me I will accept it with humility and a not so public secret smile.... :)

    Good post. Makes a person sit and think. Why did Pandora open that box?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great point, Rubina. I didn't think of it that way.

      Delete
  17. For one, because I know writing a novel isn't just putting words down, I have a great appreciation for those who excel once they've published. But, sometimes it is a luck that someone hits the market at the right time, during the right lull in our economy and/or while the world is on a frenzy for a particular type of read.

    These are things which cannot be anticipated. There's the biggest reason not to compare. Just be happy for each other, because getting published and becoming a hit isn't going to happen to the majority of us. May as well spread the good will. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. This is such a great post. I'm pretty good about not comparing myself to other writers. If I did, I could never really enjoy a book. Whenever I'm need of inspiration, I like to read -- usually something not related to what I'm writing -- to help get the creative juices flowing again. It is tempting to lament over how good someone is at writing and how I might not think I could ever be so good, but ... what good is that? With practice, I'm sure someday I could be that good.

    But this is really the perfect timing for this post for me, because I started querying again. It always get tempting to compare my journey to others. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would make it difficult to enjoy books if we let envy get in the way. I'd never want that to happen.

      Delete
  19. Darn right: Our journeys are our own. :) Envy is inevitable and in the best cases, could be the motivational kick all of us need some time. I don't seek to find out about other writers' rankings because I have a weak heart. Great topic, Kelly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Checking other people's rankings can definitely give you a weak heart. That's for sure!

      Delete
  20. I have put off writing my book so I have nothng to compare myself to. Just about to get back on the ride though!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Great post and great discussion. Writing envy is very counterproductive. One of its worst repercussions is that it might lead a writer to sub something before it is ready. Also, finding one's unique voice takes time. We are all on different writing journeys, and I think we all benefit from this great reminder that envy sours that journey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very true, Laura! Rushing into things to try to keep up with others is never a good idea. We each have our own journey.

      Delete
  22. Feeling some envy is natural, and I think it's almost impossible not to peek at other books and compare them to your own. The trick is not to wallow in it, not to let that define your own success.

    It's hard, and I am sometimes guilty of gnawing on sour grapes. Luckily, I snap out of it pretty quickly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's good. Being able to see what others are doing and not getting discouraged by it is important.

      Delete
  23. You know, what, this is a real problem!! The way I got round it with the ebook is that i deliberately didn't teach myself how to check ratings, nor do i bother when other people go on about theirs. YA is never going to be a top rating like Romance, so hey. The other stuff is harder. I once did the Eddinburgh Festival - a V|ERY prestigious event over here, and was double eventing with a fellow writer. He was petted and spoiled and fussed over. I was left on my own. When I made a joking remark about this, he shrugged and indicated that he was younger/male/and as most of the publishing world is run by young women, he flirted and that was how he played it.Sigh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To each his own, right? Just more proof that the journey is different for everyone.

      Delete
  24. I think it's hard not to be a tad jealous of millionaires who make their living writing smut, but other than that, I guess I just take one day at a time! Good post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well yeah. Millionaires make us all drool in envy. ;)

      Delete
  25. It can be human nature to be envious at times. We need to be thick skinned enough not to let it get to us.

    ReplyDelete
  26. What a great post! It is so important for us to remember that we should only compare ourselves to us. :) It can be hard not to get caught up in comparing ourselves to others.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm guessing there's multiple levels of writers envy, and my guess is that I'm at level one. Envy can be a great motivator though. :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. It's normal to feel this, but I remind myself our journeys and timelines are all unique.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Very thought provoking post. I think it's human nature to feel several different shades of green turning in our gut when riding the merry go round as we reach for that golden ring of recognition. I figure some have longer arms so they can reach further. Whatever the reason, we can sulk and be pickled in our sour grapes attitude or wish are writing buds all the best and applaud their efforts. Then let go, move on and get on with it. But, most of all enjoy where we are at the moment...and enjoy the journey. I believe all efforts will be rewarded.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we have to enjoy the journey, and that journey will be different for all of us.

      Delete
  30. I struggle with writer envy and comparing myself to other authors all the time. It sucks. Silly me and how my brain works. I appreciate the reminder to kick this bad habit. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we all need a reminder now and then.

      Delete
  31. Thanks for the reminder, Kelly! I remind myself all the time that we each have a different path in life, and that one day it will be my turn to see my books in print. I have learned that everything in life happens for a reason, but that usually we don't understand this until much later!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I completely agree. I always say things happen for a reason, even if I can't see that reason at the time.

      Delete

I love comments, but not spam. All spam will be deleted.