Comparisons: A Writer’s Worst Enemy

Comparisons A Writer’s Worst Enemy

Everyone knows all about comparisons, sometimes we get brought up with comments such as, ‘Oh that’s not what your brother does, you want to be like him don’t you?’ Our parent’s didn’t know what we now know as adults. They thought that a little bit of healthy competition was good, and it is…but when it morphs into comparison, something has gone drastically wrong.

As a writer it can be paralysing.

It’s a damn good worst enemy.

I am lucky enough to get a chance to read some brilliant work, before anyone else. My bestie and I like to acknowledge her as my critic partner, Peta, has given me a copy of her novel, her baby, I feel like Wave (her MC) and Lucy (my MC) are almost sisters because we’ve both had our stories for so long. They’ve been there ready and waiting for us to have the time and be ready to take the journey to get it going. It’s beautiful. I’ve heard so much about it, our friendship really bonded over it (and pizza and beer before we flipped the switch on our eating and drinking habits). To have a copy of it in my apartment is truly a gift. I’ve taken it with me to Adelaide, sat with it on the floor and carried it into my favourite cafes. I haven’t gotten very far into it and I’ve been hesitant about marking up the pages because it’s a work of art.

When I first got it, I wasn’t allowed to read it in her presence (probably still can’t!) because she was and is self-conscious about her writing, just like any writer. My novel had been sitting around my apartment (and if you can find it, it still is in its rawest form) and my old housemates boyfie (who happened to be my friend too) wanted to read it, he begged me and I told him no. I wasn’t ready for the world to see it. It wasn’t ready to be seen yet, so I definitely got where Peta was coming from.

But when I opened up those first few pages and read them on the plane ride to Adelaide, I teared up, I had goosebumps, my mind was broken.

Her writing is full of lightness, poise and god damn beauty. She is my best friend but by everything in the world, she is one of the most talented ladies I know. I had a fear when I touched down on the ground: my writing didn’t compare to hers. My novel wasn’t polished enough, it was too raw still.

I put myself in the comparison hot seat for a few hours and I felt like crap.

Writing is my thing. It’s what I do. I can’t grammar well enough, but I can fake it, my tenses are a nightmare, I know, but I’ve had people tell me that my writing hit them right where I wanted it too. She called me and I gushed and told her about my fear and that’s what she threw a bucket of ice water over my head.

Don’t be stupid, Mandi. You are enough.

Those were the words that came from everything that was said and wasn’t at the same time.

I was comparing myself to her writing because my little ego was telling me that I wasn’t good enough. Even when I knew it wasn’t true. We both worked hard, we both pushed each other to get the work done. We were in it together no matter what.

Comparison, like self-doubt, hinder a writer because we expect exterior gratification from others who don’t understand how we work, or how we write, they only see the beauty on the page. We need to stop looking outside for our gratification. Bring it back, look at yourself. Your writing does the talking for you and if you can string together sentences that make sense and can be read coherently, then you’re a damn good writer.

It’s time to give that ego a kick in the butt and tell him to get out of town, just like a bad boyfriend, your ego doesn’t need to be fed or watered. It needs to be put in place and told who’ boss.

You don’t need to compare yourself, you need to raise yourself up. Be proud of what you’re doing, fucking own it. Your life and your words mean too much for you to stay down.

So the next time you find yourself comparing to someone else, whether it’s because it’s their looks, writing or situation, sit back and be grateful with what you have. You’re special, they’re special but they are not you. They don’t get what you get, you’re one of a kind and its time to keep it that way.

Do you struggle with comparison? What triggers you off? Leave me a comment below I’d love to see what you guys struggle with when it comes to comparison.

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