Monday, June 02, 2014

Comparing Yourself to Other Writers

My wonderful agent, Natalie Lakosil, recently posted a blog that touched on something that has been bugging me lately. She called it "peer pressure," which was the perfect description of it.




She was referring to the pressure we feel from other writers. The, "everyone else is doing it" mentality we never quite escape, even after adolescence. It's human nature, after all, to measure ourselves by others.




No matter where you are in your career, someone else will always be ahead of you. Winning contests, getting published, hitting the bestseller list... 




Comparisons destroy friendships. They inhibit your ability to truly be happy for your fellow chapter member or critique group partner. They may even drive down your confidence, which will cause the worst thing of all to happen...

You'll stop writing.




The interesting thing about social media is that we have the power to let people believe anything we want. That successful writer who posts every five seconds about her new WIP, booksigning, or multi-million-dollar book contract? Her situation is likely completely different from yours. Or she's just really insecure and likes to brag.




It's important to focus on what you're doing and not worry so much about others. This quote says it best, I think:



Have you ever struggled with comparing yourself to others?

70 comments:

  1. poor Sofia in that picture :)

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  2. I think we all struggle from time to time with comparing ourselves to others... you are right, it doesn't help us... we need to be happy with ourselves where we are and not try to be anyone but ourselves ♡

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  3. I think that one of the worst things we can do, regardless of profession, is compare ourselves to others. There's a famous quote that says “The only person you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday.” :)

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  4. Dezmond--Sophia looks a little judgmental, don't you think? That's not a "I wish I had those" look. It's a, "Put those away" look!

    Launa--The last graphic is right. I see authors all the time doing amazing things to promote their books...but they may think the same thing about me. Is it just me or do other writers get the feeling that more experienced writers are looking at each other, saying, "Poor girl. She has no idea that what she's doing isn't going to work?" Haha!

    Optimistic--SO true! I think one of the reasons I distanced myself from writers in the early 00s was that insecurity. I was surrounded by women who were getting "the call" and I just kept submitting and getting nowhere. I felt like they were judging me (they WEREN'T, at all!) and I had to get away. But what I've learned is just because you've gotten "the call," doesn't mean you know any more than anyone else. It's the years of experience that get you to that point...and even then, the insecurity and fear never really go away.

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  5. I do! I also often believe I am not doing it as well as the others and the people who love me set me straight. In the end, though, I still do what I know is right for me even though I do not think it may be as good as someone else's..oh well the key is to not give in to it

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  6. I know most people roll their eyes when I say it, but I really don't compare myself to others. I think my parents must have told me one million times to worry about myself and not others, so maybe I took that to heart? Or maybe I just have an ego problem? Ha! Then again, I'm not an author.

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  7. Glad to hear that, Birgit. Maybe knowing most of us feel the same way gives us some solace? The key definitely is not to give in to it--you do what works for you and let them do what works for them!

    Bijoux, it can definitely apply in any field. When I worked in I.T., I saw it all the time. I guess it's human nature to gauge your own progress by the people around you, but it's different when you see the person face-to-face. All you're seeing on social media is what they're choosing to show.

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  8. ooh, that last one is GREATNESS! :)

    in this day of social media (over)sharing, it so fits.

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  9. What an excellent quote! So, so true. I remind myself that I'm running my own race and that others are running theirs. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but either way, I keep on running. :)

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

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  10. I also should add that experts have found in general that social media can lead to feelings of depression in general because people look at what other people post about their lives and feel inadequate...

    And Madeline--it's not a sprint, it's a marathon! Elizabeth Seckman pointed that out to me a few weeks ago and it made a huge difference.

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  11. Or she is full of crap and doesn't have success at all, just pretending she does on social media lol

    And there will always be someone ahead of you and behind you indeed, almost, no matter what you do.

    I mean if you are something like a professional staple sharpener, you may be in the lead there easy lol

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  12. Pat--I would be the best professional staple sharpener I could be!!! I'd probably be bored out of my mind, though.

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  13. Amen to that!

    Every one of us is unique and we come from different places. There is no comparison to make.

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  14. So true. It's much wiser to focus on what you do well, support others in what they do well, and hope you can complement each other so your both better as a team.

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  15. SUPPORT is very important. We aren't the enemy. Someone said that earlier in my career and it's true. If an author makes a sale, that's good news. It means publishers are buying. The more you help promote other writers and read their books and give them great reviews, the more you help publishers, book sales, etc., which helps all of us. We have to think of each other as on the same side, rather than in competition with each other!

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  16. Excellent post! I think we do tend to compare ourselves to others - especially if we have a competitive nature. We should just focus on ourselves and do the best we can.

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  17. Excellent post! I think we do tend to compare ourselves to others - especially if we have a competitive nature. We should just focus on ourselves and do the best we can.

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  18. Great post today! I think this happens in the blogoshpere quite a bit, and I know I did a lot of comparisons when I first started my blog. But, we all have different life situations, and what works for one blogger, may not work for me. And that's ok :)

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  19. I agree with you about Sophia's attitude in the photo you posted. And as it happens, Jayne ended up literally spilling out of that dress that night.

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  20. So true! This is a great post~

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  21. Wonderful post, Stephanie. I'm already seeing this problem with my young grandchildren, now that most of them are in school. Too sad. Wish we could whip any such negativity.

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  22. We should only ever compare ourselves to who we were yesterday :)
    ~Katie

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  23. This is really interesting. I never get jealous of my CPs. The only thing that bugs me is the bragging on FB that some authors do. Do they really think that anyone cares if their book reached some rank -- for a day on Amazon? They should take their money to the bank and not lord it over all the other struggling writers. That's just bad form.

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  24. I LOVE this post. I am guilty. I have done it. And then I feel rotten. Rotten because I am being petty and not feeling excited for a friend, and like you say, I am comparing their high light reel to my reality.

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  25. Well said! It's a post and a quote that is worth bookmarking and coming back to.

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  26. i dont compare myself, no one is in the same boat as me genre or situation, etc. but i do get jealous... its hard to hear so much success so fast, even well deserved, but i am happy for them too!

    then theres the ones who brag, and i just shut them out... and i hope i dont sound that way!

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  27. comparing yourself to others is a sign of self-inflicted violence. its like a two-sided coin. on the one side you have arrogance, the other side - self-disparagement. cheers!!

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  28. I sometimes compare my writing to others. Then I have to remind myself that my writing is MINE. I wouldn't want to be like everyone else.

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  29. There's no comparison, everyone is unique on their own ways.

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  30. Well said, Stephanie. I think it can add a lot more pressure than we need when we start to consider our fellow writers and the paths their writing has taken. All we should really focus on is ourselves, asking questions of those who've succeeded (in whatever form that may take), and continue to write for ourselves. :) Thanks for sharing.

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  31. Good point taken, Stephanie. We all have our journey and we travel on different roads. Hopefully we'll get to the same place, it just takes some of us longer that's all.

    I agree on your take about Sophia... She's hardly flat chested, but she wouldn't approve of the Jayne's garish exposure, especially being Italian. We are very modest people. LoL.

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  32. Oh yes, I've done that. It's a struggle not to do it. And, today, I'm struggling with being that author over-posting about my book, because I hope some reader might actually notice it . . . not because it's the next best thing since sliced bread. Today, I'm struggling with envy for those writers who make marketing look good and easy.

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  33. Sure, I've compared myself to other writers. I've reached the conclusion that I'm like Popeye-- I yam what I yam and I likes what I yam. I think that's what Popeye says.

    Love,
    Janie

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  34. It's so easy to think less of ourselves based on other people's accomplishments. When I feel like that, I step back and consider my own accomplishments and how far I've come. It can really put things in perspective.

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  35. The constant comparison with others is one of the reasons why I deleted my Facebook account, and it truly was one of the best decisions of my life. I feel much more free now. Comparison is like a toxin and it let's us forget to appreciate the amazing things we have, no matter in what part of our lives. I'm still trying to not compare myself, and with time I'm getting better. You are an amazing writer in your own unique way, it's not even possible to compare you to others because everybody is different and that makes us so special! :)

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  36. I was drawn in by Penelope - a favorite of mine on SNL, so thank you (I will be jaunting off to watch the Thanksgiving skit as soon as I'm done here!) As I get older, I am less likely to compare, but as a new blogger, I know exactly what you are talking about. I am amazed at the accomplishments of some of the writers and bloggers. If I got caught up in that, I fear I would stop blogging and I love it. So, although I might be tempted to cast a "Sophia glance" at times, I'll try to stay happy with me just as I am.

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  37. I compare myself to others constantly. I know I shouldn't, but I end up doing it anyway. It's a hard habit to break. I just try not to let it get to me.

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  38. I like not to compare myself to others, and try to treat everyone as if they were my equal regardless if I'm obviously inferior or superior.

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  39. Love the blog, Stephanie!

    Cherdo
    www.cherdoontheflipside.com

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  40. What terrific food for thought! I don't really consider myself a writer, but a blogger, but comparing one's self to others still stands true. Great reminder to step back and just do my best.

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  41. I love that quote. It's so true. And it's something I strive to remember when I can.

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  42. Why do we always compare ourselves to others. We all tend to do that in many different areas. I think if we could stop doing that we would all be so much happier.

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  43. I must peer pressure can be double edged sword. It can work well towards our advantage being competitive but can be a disadvantage killing confidence :(

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  44. Since I'm not a writer, I don't struggle with that comparing to others, but do compare to others in other aspects of my life, looks, amount of friends, etc. I too might be at times stuck in adolescence :)

    betty

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  45. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this! This is something we all need to remember. It's so easy to get frustrated. That last quote is one of my favorites. It's so true! Thank you for the boost, and the reminder!

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  46. I definitely have, but only when it comes to blogging. I longed to be one of those people who has tons of followers and lots of comments, and felt like the fact that I didn't meant my posts didn't measure up.

    I've since learned not to attach any personal worth to my blog, but was a long and difficult journey getting there.

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  47. I'll admit that I do this. Not with those writers I'm friends with so much, but I get a little jealous from time to time of others with bigger deals and better writing. Not something I'm terribly proud of, but I can't seem to help it sometimes!

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  48. I try hard not to compare myself to other writers because first off it isn't helpful. I'm not them, I'm me, and we all have our own paths to follow in life and in writing.

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  49. Not really. When it comes to success of others, I am usually curios how they did it so I can be successful. For example I might ask a professional how they went about marketing or what they do for inspiration. Usually I will get my own fans so being jealous is pointless.

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  50. I'd like to say I didn't, but I do, mainly now more so than when in High School, which is weird. But, while I think it is bad mostly, it can also be a good thing, it could give you that extra push to do something you might not normally do. But, it's a human thing I guess, we all at some point compare ourselves to others.

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  51. It's difficult to not compare oneself to others, but we have to remember we're all unique. Each writing journey is different for a reason. It would be boring if everyone were exactly the same, even if success doesn't come overnight or in the same way for everyone.

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  52. I totally agree that comparing ourselves to others can be incredibly damaging and paralyze our ability to create. I make an active effort not to do it, and though I'm not perfect and slip up sometimes, I think for the most part, I'm happier when I don't ;)

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  53. you're right, sometimes we just have to forget and move on because otherwise it's really difficult to keep everything in mind.

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  54. I tend not to compare myself to other people, since as you said it's really not a productive way to get writing done.

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  55. If we feel we lack in one area of our life, comparing ourselves to others seems to be ruled by our emotions.
    I used to compare myself a lot when I was young until I found out who I was and learned to love myself just as I am.
    Hugs,
    JB

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  56. I don't know that I ever truly 'lose that', but i can tone it down at times. I just know that life is better when we look up (to God, our higher selves, whatever) that to the side (like our amiga Sophia in that picture).

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  57. Great post and I think this applied to everyone from home life to career. I focus on my own personal goals, embrace life and find that success comes.

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  58. I think everyone struggles with this. It's so hard. But I do think the key is to remember that you're still in your journey, not at the end of it. So far I've been able to avoid the not being genuinely happy for others part, but that doesn't mean I don't get jealous. :)

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  59. I struggle a lot with low esteem. I love to write the speakeasy prompts because they are so inspired. They usually inspire me to write my best. The only problem is that everyone else is inspired the same way so that when it is time for folks to vote for the best post I am always near last. It is disheartening and makes me want to quit...often. Then I am inspired to try again. Almost a complete glutton for punishment!

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  60. Stephanie, Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm not a writer, I work in surgery. We're often told we don't share our skills with the newbies. I think some people feel knowledge is power and that makes them more valuable. I think of us as a team. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. No jealousy needed...just appreciation and opportunities for growth.

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  61. I think that's true in any profession, yaya. I found that when I worked in IT, as well. I worked with some extremely talented minds who REFUSED to help others. They really thought if they passed on what they knew, they'd make themselves obsolete. That's why teamwork is such an issue in the workplace.

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  62. All of this is so true. It's hard not to play the comparison game, but I do my best not to. Usually I succeed, but there are some days when it's really hard.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

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  63. Good topic Stephanie.

    Unfortunately, I think that is a problem for most--in writing or other aspects of life. I just try to be happy for others with success and feel confident that I can achieve something and not be jealous.

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  64. It's easy to nod our heads and and think sure, comparisons are bad, but it's even easier to look for reasons why we aren't getting our dreams fulfilled. The best thing we can do is stop that kind of destructive thinking and just keep writing.
    Awesome post.

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  65. Guilty as charged. Thanks for the reminder. I have to keep resisting the urge to compare and quell the green eyed monster.

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  66. I agree with Lynda. Instead of bemoaning our writing careers by comparing ourselves to others, we need to keep writing and stick to our goals. We also need to realize we all have different writing paths.

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  67. #Truth !! we spend way too much time comparing ourselves to others - facebook has only served to worsen this waste of time :(

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  68. It certainly is true we compare other people's front end with our back end. It's hard to see if other people are working harder, although we can see if they are making more contacts -- and it's hard to gauge how much that contributes to success.

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