By Comparison

By: Aryanne Ferguson

Does this ever happen to you? – You’ve finished a writing piece. You’ve been writing this novel (or play, or short story, or memoir) for 5 years, and after endless revision, you’re happy with the product of your hard work. Then your friend asks you to read his short story and after the first page you know it’s good. It’s really good. You’re positive it’s better than yours.  You empathized with his characters right away, all of his characters. The plot kept you craving more at the end of every chapter. The scene where the family ate dinner made you crave crab cakes so badly that you drove across state lines just to buy the fresh Chesapeake Bay seafood the characters were eating, and you gorged yourself with it, and you despaired. Your friend writes better than you. Except he sucks at dialogue – you are totally one hundred percent better at that.

I’m begging you, Reader. Don’t compare your writing to anyone else’s. Don’t compare yourself as a writer to another writer. You already know that you’re your own worst critic – it can’t end well for you. On this last day of 2013, I’d like to borrow from a book of nonfiction that inspires me. It’s called If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland, and in the quote below, Ueland herself borrows from William Blake.

Don’t always be appraising yourself, wondering if you are better or worse than other writers. “I will not Reason & Compare,” said Blake; “my business is to Create.” Besides, since you are like no other being ever created since the beginning of Time, you are incomparable.

Happy 2014, Reader! May it be full of writing, reading, and knowing that you are incomparable.

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