How To Play (And Lose) The Comparison Game

At some point during your writing career, you will play The Comparison Game…and you will lose every time. It is a game you can never win, because the objective of the game is to tear you down.

If you are playing The Comparison Game, then chances are you’re going up against someone who you perceive to be better than you, in which case it’s only going to end in tears.

On an online writing group a member posted a problem they were having. He had just read a book that he admired by Established YA Author. He thought about how good this author was and how (supposedly) crummy his writing was.

First of all, his writing might not even be bad but the way the Comparison Game is played leads him to perceive that his writing is bad, even if it isn’t.

Secondly, as other members of the group wisely pointed out, he is only seeing the polished version of the book. He wasn’t seeing the many, many shitty drafts that came before it. There were no doubt moments when Established YA Author felt that he, too, was getting his ass handed to him in The Comparison Game.

So how do you get the advantage in The Comparison Game?

Don’t play. Turn the game around.

Every book you read, no matter how good or bad, how popular or obscure, is a learning opportunity.

Why do all the great writers get up in your business about reading a lot? It’s because reading is the very best method for learning the craft and getting better.

When you’re playing The Comparison Game and feeling low, think about what it is about that book that you admire. What technique did they use that improved the story? Experiment with it. Use it in one of your stories. Play with it. See what happens, and edit it out later if need be.

And if you’re still feeling low, then I’ll leave you with a message the other members posted to this question: *hugs*.

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Photo from Unsplash, by Michał Parzuchowski


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