Thursday, May 15, 2014

Letting Go of Comparison

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One of the benefits of social media is we can get an insiders view of authors we admire. They will often share a lot about their writing routine. Many times I’ve marveled at some authors incredible ability to produce. Somehow between doing another job, managing their household commitments, being an engaged spouse, parent and friend, they’re able to pump out thousands of words every day.

I’m in awe.

Sometimes (well more frequently than I really would care to admit) the nagging green beast of envy rises up within my heart. It’s a similar feeling that may strike me when a friend appears to have everything worked out and their life appears to be a bed of roses.

Comparison.

Arrgh. Yes, I think we can all relate to it.

As the annual book award season is about to start in earnest it is very easy to start wondering why others books have received more accolades that ours. Forget accolades, what about the number of reviews such and such has received for their latest work?

“Comparison is all about conformity and competition,” Brene Brown says. “When we compare, we want to be the best or have the best of our group.”1 Even the disciples (and members of their families) struggled with similar impulses. Recall how James and John’s mother asked of Jesus that her sons be seated at his right and left hand. The other disciples were “indignant” at such a request. (Matthew 20: 20-28)

So how do I deal with the green-eyed monster of comparison?

  1. I thank God for the author whose situation has prompted the negative emotions in me. It is amazing what happens when we start being thankful and praising God for the blessings another is experiencing. Something magical happens and those pesky negative emotions subside.
  2. Encourage the other author in some way. You may not know them but these days with so many methods of connecting with people sending a tweet or FB comment usually isn’t too difficult. Once again, this encouragement acts like an anaesthetic to the wound in our heart.
  3. Get back to my writing project. God has made us to create (yes, all of us) and it’s in using our creativity that we can leave our own small original imprint on the world. No one else can write the story that He has placed in our heart. Yes, it is risky as Erwin McManus states, “We cannot create without  risk.”2 But it is only in leaning into the discomfort that comes with risk that we are able to experience the joy from obeying the call that burns within our hearts. The call to create.


How do you deal with the green-eyed monster of comparison?   

Note: 1. The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown, Hazelden 2010 p94-95 2. Article in RELEVANT Magazine,  May/June 2014, titled “Everyone is Creative”, Erwin McManus.




Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, 
Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

14 comments:

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    1. Hi Sara, thanks for the encouragement.

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  2. Thanks for that, Ian. I think if we're honest, the 'green-eyed monster' gets to us al in one way or another. And I do like your advice on how to deal with it.

    It's a little bit comforting to know even Jesus' close friends were prone to this very human failing. But those positive actions to combat it always seem to replace it with generosity in our hearts. A much nicer place to be!

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    1. Great perspective, Rita. Thanks for popping on to comment.

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  3. Oh, yeah, reading other authors' word count postings can be downright depressing! I solved the contest one by not entering any, although my publisher did enter my mystery in a couple. Great advice!

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    1. Hi Sandra, I'm continually blown away by some authors ability to churn through them words!

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  4. This is a struggle, isn't it, no matter who we are. We strive to do our best, but there will always be someone better than us. Someone who wins more, writes more, etc. Great words of advice on how to combat it!!!

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    1. As you say Lisa it's almost embedded in our DNA. Appreciate the encouragement. Bless,

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  5. Ian, great post! I love your first point. If we thank God for the author, we're focusing on how our collective writing is for God's glory, and for building his kingdom. It's having a mind set of not getting caught up in thinking it's all about me. Contests are tricky. I think it's helpful to enter contests with goals that aren't related to winning eg. writing craft feedback from unpublished contests, gaining exposure to new readers from published contests. A final/win is a bonus if it happens.

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    1. It can be so hard to let go of "getting caught up in thinking it's all about me. Praising God for the other author helps to change the focus of our heart. Thanks for commenting, Narelle.

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  6. Thank you, Ian! Oh, yes--dissatisfaction with where I am--no matter what, there's always somebody doing it better, selling more, getting there first. . . Saying thank you, Lord for using me where I am is so important! (preaching to myself)

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  7. Good reminder, Ian. As Christian authors we need to keep in mind that we have each been chosen for a specific purpose, and we serve at the pleasure of our God, not trying to please or "one-up" those who should be our colleagues.
    Thanks for the insight.

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    1. Hi Jan, we so easily forget the Lord has asked us to write a specific story that no one else has in them which is pretty amazing when you think about it. Thanks for the encouragement. Bless,

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