Wednesday, December 3, 2014

ISWG POST! How Do We Stop Comparing Ourselves?


It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means time to post for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's  Support Group.  To check out Alex J Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Goup CLICK HERE!!

We had an author event at the bookstore last night for a woman from New York who’s around my age. I don’t feel comfortable dropping her name, because I’m insecure. I will say that she’s done very well for herself and is an awesome person.

Comparing our talent to others is a mortal sin writers pray against. Lusting after thy neighbor’s work distracts from our own creative projects. Like the hammer of GOD  it crushes the self-esteem into unidentifiable bits.

…but, it’s impossible not to.

Artists have to be exposed to other artists’ work in order to grow. It’s impossible not to envy another’s talent, means and/or perspective.

Dialogue from Woody Allen’s, After Midnight In Paris:

Gil: Would you read it?
Ernest Hemingway: Your novel?
Gil: Yeah, it's about 400 pages long, and I'm just looking for an opinion.
Ernest Hemingway: My opinion is I hate it.
Gil: Well you haven't even read it yet.
Ernest Hemingway: If it's bad, I'll hate it because I hate bad writing, and if it's good, I'll be envious and hate all the more. You don't want the opinion of another writer.

Tell me if you do or don’t agree.

17 comments:

  1. If you can figure out how to stop comparing ourselves to others, without the emotional beating that tends to come with it, then you will have solved a huge problem. It plagues everyone, not just artists/writers/etc. That's why girls get eating disorders, women spend hundreds on youth promising products, people drive cars they can't afford, and so on and so forth.

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    1. True, but I think there's an extra sharp double edge sword when it comes to reading others work. Probably because I'm a writer. Ha. We can't win for losing!

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  2. Very funny! I've unfortunately have been in the rut of comparing myself to others. Thanks for the virtual slap upside the head to snap me out of it!

    Best regards,
    Donna
    Award-winning Children’s Author
    Ignite Curiosity in your child through reading!
    Write What Inspires You Blog

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    1. We all need the slap sometimes, right? The writers who say they never do are lying to us!

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  3. I don't agree. Maybe it's all the work I've done with teenagers and learning how to tell them whether something is good or not, but I have no problem with other writers being good, especially if I know them. It doesn't make me envious even if it might inspire me to work harder.

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    1. Andrew, I envy your lack of envy. ;)

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    2. LOL
      I'd share if I could.
      Actually, I think the ability to not envy comes from a certain amount of confidence in your own ability. Partly, that's accomplished by just deciding to have confidence in your own ability.

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    3. You're in San Francisco? We should get coffee or something some time.

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    4. Are you in the City Andrew? I'm trying to get a group to check out spots like http://www.yelp.com/biz/writers-with-drinks-san-francisco and other spoken word venues.

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    5. I'm close enough to make the trip.
      Send me an email: strangepegs@hotmail.com

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  4. That made me laugh!
    My critique partners are all amazing writers and I feel like an imposter when I am reading their work. I think it's natural.

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    1. If you feel that way, it must be natural. Thanks for your input and support. I don't know how you manage to do it all.
      Cheers!

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  5. My CP is far more talented than I am. He has this way of expressing all these feelings in just a few words. Me? It'll take me four times as long and if I'm lucky, I'll get there. But, rather than be envious, I choose to learn from him.

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    1. I think we can be envious of beauty and admire it simultaneously. To grow as a writer we humble ourselves. I'm constantly stepping outside my own selfishness to learn and grow. I agree with you that it is a choice.

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  6. I may be jealous if another writer is better than what I think I am but I never hate them or their book for it. It actually pushes me to be better. And I love it when other writers read my work because they have wonderful insight.

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    1. Chrys, of course we don't hate the writers we admire. My admitting envy in this post is an extension of conversations I have with other writers at our bookstore. It's an insecurity, but I think it's natural.

      I love it when other writers read my work also. Some provide great insight, others not so much. I'm always honored by those willing to take the time to look at my work and try to pay it forward. ;)

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