Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Escape the Comparison Trap by Myra Johnson

My critique partner and I use a shared Dropbox folder for sending chapters back and forth. Whenever I open her next file to critique, which is usually the morning after she uploaded it, a little popup tells me how long since the file was last edited. Counting backward that number of hours, I am often stunned to find she was still working on her chapter as late as 2:00 a.m.! 

For a fleeting moment, I wonder, Am I such a slacker? I mean, this lady is not only a multi-published historical romance novelist but also a crazy-busy wife, mother, homeschooler, and part-time private school teacher. How does she do it???

As for me? In order to function at all, I require a semi-regular routine and eight hours of sleep every night. My writing week runs Monday-Friday, typically 10:00 a.m. to no later than 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. We’ve had a (mostly) empty nest for the last quarter-century, and my husband has been fully retired for about 10 years, so he’s taken over most of the grocery shopping, cooking, and laundry. I’ve got it easy, right? So why am I not churning out the books faster? 

Oh, the comparison trap! It’ll lure you in every time. 

  • “My best writer friend already has three book contracts—but I can’t even get a request!”
  • “Why can’t I write books as fast as Author X?”
  • “I know my book is better than Author Y’s, but her novel keeps winning awards!”
  • “Why isn’t my novel getting 5-star reviews like Author Z’s?”

 The only way to keep this kind of thinking from derailing your writing is to refuse to play the game. Instead, focus on your own strengths and set achievable, measurable goals. Do you write best early in the morning? Make morning writing time a priority. If you can only write late at night when the rest of the household is asleep, do it. Are you most creative doing 1,000-word sprints? Go for it. If it takes you all day to squeak out 500 words, that’s okay, too. Plotter, pantser, or somewhere in between? Experiment until you find what best helps you get the story down. 

You may need to stick with the generally accepted “rules” regarding plot, structure, characterization, dialogue, etc. But in other aspects of the writing life, feel free to find your own way. Above all, trust the God who gave you the talent and desire to write stories for Him, and always follow His lead. 

When tempted to compare yourself with other writers, where are you most vulnerable? What helps you resist? 

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others.—Galatians 6:4, The Message

Oh, the comparison trap! It’ll lure you in every time. via @MyraJohnson #SeriouslyWrite


Native Texan Myra Johnson is a three-time Maggie Awards finalist, two-time finalist for the prestigious ACFW Carol Awards, winner of Christian Retailing’s Best for historical fiction, and winner in the Inspirational category of the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. After a five-year sojourn in Oklahoma, then eight years in the beautiful Carolinas, Myra and her husband are thrilled to be home once again in the Lone Star State enjoying wildflowers, Tex-Mex, and real Texas barbecue!

Myra’s latest release, The Soft Whisper of Roses (Christian contemporary women’s fiction), is available now in both ebook and paperback. She is currently at work on her next contemporary romance for Harlequin Love Inspired, book 2 in the Ranchers of Gabriel Bend series. Watch for book 1, The Rancher’s Family Secret, coming January 2021.

Find Myra online:


Twitter : @MyraJohnson