02 Dec Erin’s Tips for not Comparing Yourself to Other Authors
“Comparison is the greatest thief of joy”. This common phrase has been implemented to be one of my main mantras to live by in the last year. Since graduating from university I’ve struggled not to feel behind or less than my peers and colleagues. In an era where so many people’s careers and personal lives are shared online, it’s easy to fall into a trap of comparison against those around you because you are seeing weekly or even daily updates of how others are progressing. I have come up with some tips collated from advice from others and what works best in my own experience. If you feel like you may be suffering from comparison calamity, try implementing some of these tips for a better mindset.
1. Bounce back from mistakes or criticism
Yes, you’ve probably heard this one before. But it’s a reminder to not let the bad stuff bog you down. At the time mistakes may not seem helpful or criticism might make you never want to write another word ever again, however, use them to your advantage. Growth will never happen if you don’t make mistakes. That’s where real experience lies, in my opinion, someone with 5 years of experience with ups and downs and who has learned from them has far more experience than someone who has been plain sailing for 10 years.
2. Gain some tunnel vision
Take some time to just completely focus on yourself and what you are doing. Maybe delete your social media for a short time so you can eradicate the urge to constantly check what others are up to. Letting others inspire and motivate is such a wonderful tool, however, gaining some solitude may just allow you to become excited and passionate about your project without the influence of others making you hold doubt within yourself.
3. Forget the timeline
There’s always going to be someone younger and more successful than you, whatever you define that ‘success’ as. Forget the timeline and don’t pressure yourself into thinking that you need to achieve certain goals or milestones by a specific age. I know it’s hard to see someone younger or ‘less experienced’ than yourself find success sooner however try to remember that age really is just a number and doesn’t equate to success or experience.
4. Tackle imposter syndrome
Feelings of not being good enough and like you’re not worthy are rife in many writers’ minds, a lack of confidence in yourself can make you feel uncomfortable and that you’re living a lie. Tackle the feeling of imposter syndrome by giving yourself credit and stop seeking bosses, peers or colleagues for constant validation, because when you don’t receive this validation an undercurrent of failure may start to rise. Instead, tell yourself you are worthy of where you are, you are suited to the job you obtained, that you worked incredibly hard to get, or that you deserved to get that book published. Have faith in yourself to accomplish challenging tasks and be a yes writer, don’t shy away because you think you might not be able to do it well.
5. Live the life you have, not the one you want
We all have goals that we want to achieve and places we want to be but don’t let that hinder you from enjoying where you are right now. Recognise where you started and what you’ve achieved and what you’re doing in this time. Of course, you’ll want to push yourself to be doing bigger and better things but in the meantime relish in your accomplishments, you deserve it.
6. Let others inspire
Try to alter your perspective when reading someone else’s work, use it to enthral your mind and give you inspiration or ideas for your own writing. Allowing your critical self to come into play will only hinder your vision and thus you’ll wind up drawing comparisons, which in turn may block your motivation. Try changing your mindset from ‘this is better than mine’ or ‘I should have done that instead’ to ‘what a great idea’ and ‘something to keep in mind for myself, I wonder if I can expand on this thought’. Remember in creative disciplines there is no right or wrong, it’s merely down to opinion. Yes, there are differences between good writing and bad, however, writers are in their own entity and their work exists on its own, there’s no ‘correct way’ to write a nonfiction novel. Therefore you could argue that a critique from one person’s viewpoint is praise from others, it is really all about perspective.
7. Keep going
Finally, use all of these tips or pick ones that you might find helpful, and keep going. At times our motivation or creativity becomes stagnant and that’s fine. Don’t let your self-doubt become the central deterrent for a temporary block. Negative emotions are essential however don’t allow them to invade and take over your outlook, you need to resist the urge to compare and let go of inhibitions-once you start to care less, you may notice how your writing flourishes.
Written by Erin Rose Kyle