Danger of Comparing Yourself to Other Writers

In the writing community, I see the insecurities of writers abound. The great thing is, we’re not alone in our struggles. But I want to talk about the most dangerous pitfall writers can fall into, and that’s comparing yourself to other writers.
For some of us, writing is a passion, a fiery desire to create short stories, poems, fiction, non-fiction — it doesn’t matter what, the desire is the same. And for those of us with this passion, we will continue to be pulled to writing until we give in. And nothing is quite as satisfying as giving in to what you love.
For others of you, there are other reasons you’re pulled to writing. Perhaps it’s a challenge to conquer, perhaps you wish to write to preserve the memory of someone you love, or to share your family’s history with future generations, or to persuade and inform people about a cause. Regardless of what brought us to the point where we want to write, we’re here together.
As a community of writers, we have the ability to help each other. But creative desire can be snuffed out by self-doubt. And one of the most harmful types can come from reading the work of other writers and feeling our own work isn’t good enough in comparison.
The best advice I can give fellow writers is when you find yourself doing this, being bogged down by self-doubt on whether your work is good enough, allow for a slight mind shift. Let the work that you’re envious of inspire you. Decide that you want your voice out there too. And if it really is a matter of another writer being better at the craft, examine their work. Determine what it is that you like, and then figure out how they do it. For example, if it’s character development, think about how they give you information about the character and why the character is appealing to you. You can always learn new things to improve your writing.
Your best work now, will not be the best in six months, or a year from now. So write, learn, grow, and then let it go and move on to the next piece.


  1. // Reply

    This was so encouraging! I mean, it’s hard to change your writer’s envy into inspiration, but it makes sense that you have to do that in order to move forward. Great post 🙂

    1. // Reply

      Thanks for stopping by and reading my post, Ella. It is a difficult change (I only shifted my thinking maybe six months ago), but after you start thinking that way for a little bit, it really frees you as a writer and allows you to appreciate other people’s work more. As writers I think we have enough negativity in our heads, so if we can clear out some of it, all the better.
      Plus, writers make up a huge portion of readers, so if we’re encouraging and supporting other writers, we’re creating a bigger audience for everyone.

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        It was a good post, so it was pleasure reading it 🙂 Yeah, writers deal with a lot of negativity, like you said; but I feel that if we were pure beams of sunshine, the satisfaction that we get from writing would decrease a bit. This way, we know that we’ve struggled, so when we actually finish writing something, there’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with it. But absolutely, for the sake of our mental health, we have to at least try to be the obnoxiously joyous people from children’s TV shows.

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          Yes. The struggle makes the accomplishment so much better. I’m laughing at your “obnoxiously joyous” line. I don’t think I could fake that level even if I wanted to, but it hits on an interesting point. Sometimes I think you have to fake confidence just to keep yourself moving forward. And “for the sake of our mental health” is an excellent way to put it. Especially if your personal identity is wrapped up in being a writer, rejection can feel like a personal hit, and you have to try to balance that out. And sometimes that’s by spreading joy and positivity, like you said. I sometimes feel the posts I write to encourage other writers turn into little pep talks to myself too.

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    Self doubt is the greatest foe to creativity, but the enemy of self doubt is action. Its best to just pull the trigger on writing before those reservations sink in. I know for a fact that wall is the biggest one I ever faced and it’s probably the hardest one to conquer when you are just starting out. Great post.

    1. // Reply

      Thank you! And you’re right about needing to take action. I find myself paralyzed by fear often in this field, and I have to force myself to “pull the trigger” as you say. I think every time I submit a story to a literary magazine, I go through the same motion at the end, mouse hovering over the send button and it really is a struggle just to click one button.

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    All in all, being nice to people is good, and definitely something everyone should do, not just writers, because smiles are astonishingly hard to come by.

  4. // Reply

    Self-doubt really is the antagonist of creativity. Great post!

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      You are so right, Aka. There are so many pitfalls for writers that can damage your confidence and derail your progress. It’s always helpful to be reminded of these so you can try to avoid them. Sometimes when I write these posts, they’re little pep talks to myself. Hopefully they’re also useful to other writers.

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