Why You Should Never Compare Yourself To Other Writers

By on April 21, 2016
Why You Should Never Compare Yourself To Other Writers -

Writers are sensitive creatures, and it can be easy for us to find reasons not to write in the first place. One of the most common of these is that there is ‘no point bothering to write my book when so and so has already done it far, far better than I possibly could have done.’

Thinking that our writing can’t possibly measure up to other great writers that have already enjoyed success leaves us filled with doubt as well as an overwhelming sense of pointlessness - if someone has already done it better, why bother, right?

Well, wrong actually. We all want our writing to be highly thought of, and while it can be intimidating if another writer is in the same genre as you who you fear you can’t possibly live up to. But should this stop you from writing altogether? Of course not!

One important point to remember is that when we read a published book we are seeing the finished, edited polished version of it. If it has been published by a reputable publishing house it will have been read and re-read, refined, amended and honed to perfection. A team of people will have worked on it to ensure that the sentences flow, that the plot is tight, fast paced and gripping, that the language is used carefully and precisely and makes the story seem to read effortlessly and beautifully.

Of course our first unpublished draft isn’t going to compare! How could it? But should we really be comparing ourselves to the cream of the crop? Isn’t this like a promising runner at a school sports day refusing to take part in the 100m race because there is no way that they are going to beat Usain Bolts PB?

I’m not saying it’s not a good idea to read successful authors work, but when you do use it wisely. Don’t hold up your work and compare it to theirs, instead be inspired by it, be influenced by it and strive to one day write as well as they do.

All writers are different, they are on different paths and have different strengths and weaknesses. Not everyone is going to love everything a particular writer produces. So read and learn from other writers, but don’t try to be them, and certainly don’t let them stop you continuing to follow your own dream.

Your writing is unique and original. It came from you and no one else, and therefore it can’t possibly be compared to anyone else’s Your voice, style, syntax, language, theme and story are all uniquely yours - so celebrate that!

Even if you have written extensively - say you’ve completed your novel, or even have a couple of novels under your belt, you are actually still very inexperienced in the field. Try to remember this next time you compare yourself to a seasoned author.

No matter how much raw talent you have, you simply can’t compare yourself to a writer with years and years more experience than you - so stop unfairly comparing yourself to them. Writing is a craft, you have to learn it and practice it to get it right, the more you do, the better you will become.

If you let your dreams remain dreams, you’ll always regret it, so don’t let other writers take that away from you, just keep learning, keep writing and keep believing and be proud of what you have achieved.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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