Monday, June 10, 2013

Creative Best Series: Six

Annette M. Irby
Hey writers, Annette here! It's the beginning of another writing week. Are you geared up and ready to go? Today we're tackling one of those temptations we've all faced at some point: comparing ourselves with others. Join me as we peek at the next line in our Scripture study of Galatians 6:4-5 from the Message Bible.

Don’t compare yourself with others

Walking the halls at a well-attended writers’ conference is enough to give you an inferiority complex, if you let it. You read the nametags of those you pass and right away accusations come. “What are you doing here? Do you think you can write as well as ______? Who are you trying to kid?”

Ugh! 

What about contest entries? You know so-an-so's publisher will also be submitting his/her latest, greatest novel. Why even bother? 

Reading can bring the same hazard. Pick up a book by your favorite author. She writes in your chosen genre. And she’s fantastic! You don’t read her books, you savor them. You devour them again and again. Her prose inspires you. But accusation comes: “I could never write that well! And I call myself a writer?”

Comparison's Results

See how destructive comparison can be? Devastating.

Comparison could result in:

~ Insecurity, which leads to defeat

~ Pride (if you think you’re writing better, which is rather subjective and therefore unsubstantiated)

~ Writer's block. If you can never measure up (to this arbitrary standard comparison invents), why try? Creativity doesn't thrive under harsh criticism. 

~ Defeat. If we compare our timeline with someone else's we may feel so discouraged we give up. But who knows when our big break will come? Hang in there and focus on the path God has laid for you.

If we remember we're just as valuable as the multi-published, award-winning authors, we'll more easily battle the temptation to compare.

The Flipside

Sure, learn what you can from others’ work. Learn the craft. Study what they’re doing right and perhaps even investigate things you think they did wrong. But compare yourself with them? Not a good idea. The following verse advises against it too:

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original. (Galatians 5:25 MSG)

An Original

"Each of us in an original!" Yes!
Just as you differ from others, your calling differs from another’s calling—even if they are called to write for God. Plus, you’re uniquely you, with your own voice, your own message, your own style. You’d be comparing apples to oranges if you held up your work against theirs. It’s folly.

God knows what He’s doing. He calls us to all run this race of our Christian walk. But all faithful servants of God win! Don’t waste emotional energy on comparison. Shake off those bonds and just be your creative best!

Your turn: Can you think of times when comparing yourself or your work helped? Can you recall a time when comparison stifled your creativity? And how do you keep from giving in to the temptation to compare yourself with others? 

~~~~~

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2 comments:

  1. Annette! How did you get in my head? :) Yes, it's so easy to get discouraged when I read other's works, especially when we have so many talented writers in the Christian fiction community.

    Thanks for reminding us that God called US for a specific work. We can't write like someone else because we're not supposed to write like anyone but ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such a freeing truth! Now, to live in the light of it, me included. ;) Hugs, friend!

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