Don’t Compare!

by LimebirdCat

Firstly, apologies for being away for so long, have been in hospital and off work (I know, I know, I’m dropping to bits and not even 30).

Now, what say we get this show back on the road?

Last time, I spoke of holding your ground against the dastardly whims of the editor whilst and at the same time, believing in yourself.

I want to talk a bit more on that here.

You are as unique as your finger print. No-one else is or can be you. As Chesney Hawks (a one hit wonder in the UK music charts) most eloquently put it – “I am the one and only, you can’t take that away from me”.

Yes, okay, that quote was something of a cop-out, but the sentiment remains the same.

How many times have you read something and wished you could write like that and then felt miserable because you think you’re never going to be that ‘good’? Sometimes reading other people’s work spurs us on to keep going and develop our own style. I love reading others’ styles and getting over-eager to hit the keyboard running.

But there are times when you feel like your work won’t amount to a hill of beans, whether you want it to be published or not, because others just appear to ace you right out of the race.

You should not try to emulate other writers to a great extent, or compare yourself too harshly. It is too easy to look at other writers and view what they have accomplished by the time they were whatever age you are now and find yourself lacking.

In all probability, they had different circumstances to you – inspiration and time enough to write presented themselves in many different ways to them, as it will to you.

You have a unique writing style. Do not get caught up too much in the ideologies of others as to what defines a good or bad writer. There is no law against you writing as you will.

If you’ve had formal English Language education, so in the UK, something like A-Level English Language or even degree level, you are taught to focus on writing to maintain the readers interest. How many times have you or someone you know groused over having to abandon or criticise a book because it ‘took too long to get going’? However, I put it to you that you have to decide who your audience is. If you identify anyone more important than you, then there has to be something wrong.

Now, I’m not getting at you for writing for an audience at all – but as I have said previously, you must write for yourself and your own satisfaction first. Otherwise, writing becomes a chore. 250,000 words for a novel can suddenly seem like an insurmountable struggle if you all of a sudden wake up one day and realise you are not enjoying your work.

Nor, again, should you compare yourself to the commercially successful writers like the JK Rowling’s and the Dan Brown’s of this world and agonise over what secret formula they managed to tap into.

Do not worry about the amount of rejections you will get either. Do not concern yourself that your work is not sat side by side with those already available. If you believe, you will get there and hell, if you don’t – you had one heck of a great time writing!

The Bronte’s could not have imagined their success and it all started with escapism, for themselves and for each other. They wrote from their hearts because they knew that, even if their work was universally rejected by every publisher, they  had written for them.

To finish my ramblings and meanderings – I will provide you with a quote from one of the most unique minds the world has ever known, which I think sums up the above marvellously (or rather, my interpretation of it is): “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” – Albert Einstein.

13 Responses to “Don’t Compare!”

  1. Nice quote to end it- great post

  2. What a fantastic return to the Limebird-sphere and I am so glad to hear that you are better LimebirdCat! This post made me feel all happy inside. It also made me want to do a fist pump! *fist pump*

    It’s so true! If you spend a long time trying to emulate or match your favourite authors, it could end up tearing you apart. Of course, that’s not to say it’s not possible, but it’s always important to be true to yourself. The Chesney Hawkes comparison made me laugh and I sang it out loud!

    Oh, this Einstein quote is so great and so relevant, love it. Thanks for this post Cat, it’s such an important reminder that we should all stand up for how unique we are as writers. Also, not to lose faith in what we are writing, no matter how hard it may be some times.

  3. That’s one (of many) of my favorite quotes! I agree with your message. I read somewhere that you’re supposed to write your first draft for yourself and not worry about the audience until later drafts, but then I see some people worrying about audience right from the beginning. Lately I’ve been wondering which was the ‘right’ way to go about it. I almost posted this question in the forum, but you read my mind =)

  4. Wow, great reminder! I rarely have those thoughts because of how I came to begin my path of writing, but asset my age and just beginning, it’s easy to think it’s too late to bother. I really appreciate the enthusiasm and passion that bled through on this post. Definitely a new favorite.

  5. Very wise words. When I read something particularly well-written, I take note of what I think is so great about it. I don’t try to copy the style, but admire the technique. My writing voice is unique and I know it. Yet I still can learn from other wonderful writers about timing or brevity or other techniques that may enhance my style.

    I hope you are feeling better and that your recovery is going well.

  6. Thank you all – am like, lovin’ the comments and that! Bangtidy.

    You can indeed learn about technique from reading others work – which is what gets me all fired up after reading a belting piece of work and ready to write.

    For me, it’s those moments when you sit there and criticise yourself in a “I’m not worthy” moment which I totally think we all have at times. Which is natural. Positive envy if you will.


  7. “The Bronte’s could not have imagined their success and it all started with escapism, for themselves and for each other. They wrote from their hearts because they knew that, even if their work was universally rejected by every publisher, they had written for them.”

    Good point. I’m going to print it out and tack it on the bulletin board beside my computer.

    Thank you.

  8. Thank you for this post. It is exactly what I needed to read today,

    I hope you are feeling better!

  9. Your “ramblings and meanderings” are perfect for someone like me who is stymied by the thought of the audience, or lack thereof, as the case may be. And I too love the quote at the end. Thank you.

  10. Great quote, one of my favorites. I can’t imagine an audience at all because I can’t imagine a book. Yet. I hope to one day. It seems like an unsurmountable project to even begin, when you don’t even know how to edit properly.

    This was a very inspiring post, thank you! There IS an audience out there, if I ever get up the backbone to attempt a project! In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy what I do 🙂

  11. Thanks for this post, I needed to read this. Even on the blogisphere it’s sometimes hard not to compare your [post] writing unfavourably to others – especially on less ‘confident’ days. However, each of us have a unique voice and it’s inevitable that the way in which we say things, the style, will appeal to some and not others.

    I love the piece above about how, at times, we wish we could write ‘like that’ and feel discouraged, but at other times we are spurred on and inspired. So true!

    Sorry to hear you have been in hospital, I wish you a speedy recovery.


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