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Comparison is the Thief of Joy—Or the Trick? It's to Trick Ourselves

Atlin Merrick

Ray Bradbury wrote more magically than I ever will. Benedict Cumberbatch and Domhnall Gleeson have achieved more in their young years than I can hope to emulate. At my most muscular my thighs were chubbier than women I thought looked absolutely right.

There.

That's my starter pack of comparisons that bring me absolutely no damned joy whatsoever. I can go on. I have. I probably will in future.

The problem with my list, your list, everyone's list about how they fail in comparison to someone else is that usually the comparisons don't make us better, they rob us of our hope—and we are the robbers.

Let's stop doing that.

We can decide that, you know, and then make it true by any means necessary. We can use our powerful, brilliant brains and go into denial (see the comic above, which I love). We can put our metaphorical fingers in our ears when these stupid comparison thoughts occur and go LA LA FUCKING LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!

It sounds silly but it works.

If you feel woeful about your writing after reading Storyteller Sparkles, don't damn well read Storyteller Sparkles—at least for awhile. If you overthink each story you tell, don't give yourself the chance. Tell yourself you have one hour to write it, thirty minutes to edit it, and up it goes right after.

A writing friend of mine started doing that. She writes, edits, then puts it up almost all in one day so that she has no time to compare herself. She's publishing three and four times a week now.

Try her trick. Do it for each chapter of your fic. Sure, maybe that means shorter chapters but who cares? Do they have to be long? Who made that rule? How's that working for you?

The point is, let's do whatever we have to to go round the roadblocks we keep putting in front of ourselves. The trick is to trick ourselves in whatever way works.

My way? I persisted so long and wrote so much that I fell in love with my own voice and stopped wanting to write like Ray Bradbury. Benedict and Domhnall? I'm not an actor, I wasn't born into a family of actors, so why am I comparing myself to actors? And my unmuscular thighs? I literally stopped looking in full length mirrors. If my thighs are gonna jiggle I'm not gonna to look.

Changing my expectations, listening to the voice of reason, and going into denial are my ways that work.

Maybe this newsletter can help you find yours.

While you look, keep writing. You're someone's favourite writer, or you will be.

But you have to keep writing.

Find more ways to avoid comparing yourself to others in IP's writing newsletter Spark. And don't forget to subscribe!



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