For a cat there are many dangerous things to be careful of. We are small and a car might not see us when we try to cross the road; we could be run over and killed. In our homes the humans who live with us might drop a piece of peanut butter toast on our head, and we could smell like peanuts. However, there is something more sinister than fast cars and peanut butter toast.
There is a danger that applies to writers, cats, and humans. The Danger Of Comparing Yourself.
Why It Is Dangerous to Compare Your Writing to Others
I will do a count down like David Letterman does on The Tonight Show. David does ten reasons, I have four. I wish I had a suit and tie and a big desk to sit behind. But, I will just go ahead and keep dictating while I sit on my typists table.
Reason Number Four to Never Compare Yourself to Others
When you compare your writing to someone else you might think they are better than you and you might feel bad. Comparing yourself will make you feel sad. You will walk around with a frown on your face and not smile. Someone might think you have to cough up a hairball.
Reason Number Three to Never Compare Yourself to Others
In my History of the Domestic Cat class in college, one of my classmates, Kitty, a short-haired tabby, kept getting higher grades than I did. Instead of paying attention to the teacher I just stared at Kitty during class to see why she got higher grades.
The professor asked me a question,”Pooh, when did the Domestic Cat first learn how to use a litter box?”
I didn’t know the answer because I wasn’t listening to the lecture, I was staring at Kitty. That was when I realized the only way to know the material is to listen to what the teacher is saying.
If you are looking at another writer you are not looking at your own writing. Look at your own writing, and craft your sentence.
If you are looking at someone else’s writing you are not writing. And the only way to write is to actually write, and not stare at other writers.
Reason Number Two To Never Compare Yourself to Others
The writer you are comparing yourself to has been writing for twenty-five years and has published sixteen novels, been on Good Morning America five times, and a host on Saturday night live three times. And you just started writing today.
When you compare your beginning to someone else’s long career you may get discouraged which leads us to the most dangerous reason you should never compare your writing to someone else.
Reason Number One to Never Compare Yourself to Others
And the number one reason to never compare your writing to someone else is: you might quit writing. If you are discouraged you might throw away your special writing pencil and pad of paper. You might never write the story of how you met your partner. You might never write the story of how you met Malcom Forbes when you lived in Tokyo. You might never write about how you survived being lost in the wilderness for three months with no dry bagged cat food. And your children will never find out what you did on your senior trip to Disneyland.
If you stopped writing, the world would never get to read what you have to say. Someone out there would never have a chance to laugh at your jokes, smile at your writing, and be encouraged by your honesty.
And, if you stopped writing a small piece of your soul that loves to paint pictures with words would cry, or die, and that rhymes.
Believe in Yourself and Don’t Quit
Even though I know it is dangerous to compare your writing to others, I went on The Write Practice tonight as I was writing my blog post, and I read a recent story by Monica M. Clark. Her article, 8 Tips From Literary Agents About How To Get Published is well written, with practical and helpful advice. I compared the story I was writing to Monica’s article and I wanted to send an immediate e-mail to Joe Bunting, the editor and owner of The Write Practice, and say, “Joe, I can’t write for you anymore. I will spend the rest of my nine lives sleeping in sunbeams. I am not as good a writer as Monica M. Clark.”
I am not sure what Joe would have said. He might have said, “Oh Pooh, don’t quit, it is dangerous to compare your writing to someone else.” And if he had said that, I would have said, “You are very smart Joe. I won’t quit.”
But, I know what I would have told you if you wanted to quit writing because you were discouraged. And, it is always easier to give advice to others, than it is to believe it for yourself.
I would have said, “Don’t quit writing. Write your stories. The world would be a sad world if everyone was the same. And, If everyone wrote like me, the world would only have stories about hunting mice and how to clean a litter box. A world without variety would be boring. So, spice up the world, and be yourself.”
Today I want you to write the story you want to write. Write for fifteen minutes. Take a deep breath and think of the story you have always wanted to tell. What is your story? You don’t have to write like Bill, or Mary, or even Jeff or Joe. What is your story?
What do you want to write about? A true story? A made-up story? Did you want to write a story about “The Lonely Plate”?
Please be kind and read someone else’s story and make a comment. We, as writers, can encourage each another to keep writing and not compare.
All my best,