Thursday, January 13, 2011

Just Don't Do It

One thing that I have learned to avoid at at costs when it comes to writing: I should not compare my work to someone else's. It's great to read other work, of course, but when comparison comes into play, things can get ugly. I know that when it comes to me, I can guarantee that I will walk away unhappy. Feeling bad about myself, my own writing. Sometimes I'll even lose the motivation to keep pecking away at it.

Comparing the work and learning from the work are two different things. When we're learning from it, we'll see a technique or a line or a description and think, Now that's how I should try to do things. When we're comparing, I believe the thoughts are somewhere along these lines: Wow, that is such great description. Man, my description sucks. Why do I even try? There's no way anyone will ever love my work when there's stuff like this out in the world. I'm horrible. I'm a lousy excuse for a writer. Never again, I say. Never again.

And, you know, even if what you're reading does have more description, or a more twisted plot - whatever - everyone has a different writing style. Different doesn't equal bad. It's just... well, different. The writing could still be good, still be enjoyable. I made the mistake of comparing this last weekend, and I dug myself out of that hole by pounding this into my own head. So, okay, my novel isn't poetic or extensive in detail. I'm still working on it, and it still has worth.

So, my bit of wisdom this week. Learn, don't compare.