I do a lot of reading, and it seems I’m often coming across quotes about stuff that makes me think “Oh, I should write a post about that.” It’s not a surprise that my brain takes stuff from all kinds of venues and sources and twists them around to fit for writers and the writing life. It’s how I filter the world, interpret it. I’ve been reading my way through The Art of War For Writers by James Scott Bell, and last night, I came across the perfect quote for the start of this new Round:
Don’t worry about trying to be better than someone else. Always try to be the very best you can be. Learn from others, yes. But don’t just try to be better than they are. You have no control over that. Instead try, and try very hard, to be the best you can be. That you have control over. ~John Wooden, legendary UCLA basketball coach (p. 49 The Art of War for Writers)
So much of our lives as writers leads us down the path of comparison. It’s a dangerous road to walk. It can lead us to turn a disease ridden GREEN. Because there’s always someone further along the path than we. Someone who got lucky or was in the right place at the right time. Someone who might not have been working as hard or as long (according to our perceptions) as we have. That way lies madness and envy and a soul-sucking waste of energy.
I’m big about issuing challenges around here. I like to push people. So of course I have a new challenge for y’all this round.
For the next 80 days, I want you to resist comparison. Don’t you give a single thought to anyone else’s goals, anyone else’s progress. You are the only one who matters. If you must compare, compare your progress this round to what you did last round. Push yourself to do more. Up that daily word count by 50 or 100 words. Edit a few extra pages. Read a craft book.
But don’t you be checking your Amazon ranking. Don’t look at anybody ELSE’S Amazon ranking. Or their number of reviews. Don’t pay attention to whether Billie Sue wrote 5,000 words a day to your 500. It doesn’t matter. You’re not Billie Sue. If you’re hanging out on Twitter and Facebook and talking to other writers, use it to get into some word wars and push your own limits. Don’t pay attention to whatever the latest article is about whoever the latest wunderkin is who sold 100,000 copies of their ebook overnight. You aren’t them. They don’t matter. They are not part of your path. All these potential comparative distractions are like the moles in Mario Kart. They pop up and blind you to your true path, trying their damnedest to make you crash rather than win the race.
The only one in this race is you.
So keep your eyes on the road and challenge yourself. See you on the other side.
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