The Monstrous Beast of Comparison

6:00 AM

How are you guys surviving? I'M NOT. HAHAHA. AHAAAA. Ehem.

Well, I mean ... I guess technically speaking I am? Because, um ... I hit 50k on Thursday. *sheepish grin* BUT I STILL FEEL LIKE I'M DYING. I had 3k to go on Thursday evening but was severely lacking in motivation for some odd reason, but Katie was amazing and word crawled me to 50k, even though she had a long day and was sleepy. *hugs the lovely Katie*

I was pleasantly going about my day on Friday when I realized I hadn't gotten a post ready. So here's what's left of my coherency XP

Today we're going to talk about a beast that lurks in many places. It hides within NaNo and other group projects, and other projects, period. It's a nasty beastie.

It is ... Comparison.



CONFESSION TIME. Some of you might remember that I switched my nano novel in the beginning of October. I took on a whole new project about dreams. I was so excited, I did my first Beautiful Books post about it.

And then I read two other Beautiful Books posts. You know what their books were about?

Dreams.

Immediately, I felt that warm glow of excitement, the rush of happiness as I plan a new creation, that love and passion for an idea ... I felt all of that fade. Like iron heated over the fire, I had been thrust into the water, and my warmth for The Dream Walkers, my excitement and passion for it fizzled.

Their books are better, a little voice whispered in my ear. Their ideas are cooler. You think this is such a good idea? You're stupid. A goose could write this book better than you. You should just give up now, before you embarrass yourself.

This was stupid. I knew it was stupid. For any book I choose to write, I'm going to find similar ideas out there, or at least stories with similar elements.

That's why comparison is such a dangerous beast. It's so easily accessible. All you have to do is poke in on a writer friend and be like, "Oh heyyy how's nano?" and then they'll say, "Oh, I'm super behind at only 181473298474897562523k words" to which you reply

i'm done


It's so easy to feel bad about yourself then. Why can't I be at 181473298474897562523k words like so-and-so? UGH I'M SUCH A FAILURE AT WRITING.

That is where I will address my first qualm with comparison.

Qualm #1: everyone has their own pace

I did a post on the woes of word warring a while back, and in it I talked a bit about pace. (not the pace of a story, but the speed at which one writes)

In a really good war, I can crank out 300 words in 5 minutes. That means in a 10 minute war, I will (on occasion - when I'm steaming and words are explosive) crank out 600ish words.

This is my pace.

It's my goal now that I've pinpointed it. Yes, I am capable of writing 300 words in 5 minutes. Yes, I can write 600 words in 10 minutes. That is my pace.

So when I word war someone, I am not aiming to beat them.

I'm aiming to beat myself.

And that perspective needs to be zoomed out to encompass all of NaNoWriMo. For some, it is possible for them to crank out 20k in a day. *pointedly looks at a few particular people* Some people can finish NaNo in THREE STINKIN' DAYS. Heck, Katie did hers in 10 (i know, she's a boss).

These people are all different. They all have their own paces, their own processes, and their own styles. Just because someone can crank out 20k in a day doesn't mean I'm a failure for not being able to do the same.

It doesn't work like that.

300 words in 5 minutes.

That's my pace.

That's MY pace.

It's not yours. You need to find your pace. And if you have a slow war, you can tell yourself, "I know I can write faster." Not, "So and so can write faster. Why can't I be like them?"

That's just not a fair outlook. We are all amazing, unique, talented people. Embrace your pace. Embrace your process and style.

Embrace yourself, for you are unique and special. No one can tell your story like you can, and no one can write quite like you. Take pride in that. Don't let yourself get down because of your differences.

#rantover

(can you tell i'm passionate about this? sorry to rant. actually i'm not sorry.)


Qualm #2: everyone has their own ideas and ways of taking them

I can sum up my book in a single word: dreams.

But something happens when you do that. You lose ... just about everything that makes the book yours. So if you walk around thinking, "I'm writing a book about dreams and it's going to be the best thing ever!!!" that might not be the smartest mindset.

Think about your best friend. What do you love about them? I love my best friend's laugh, and her smile, and her corny jokes that are just so bad I can't help but double over laughing till I can't breathe and my face is red and tears are streaming.

Now imagine what would happen if we all walked around looking at people and seeing their skeletons. Just the bones that support and hold them together.

They're all basically the same, right?

There are no more unique people, with pretty laughs and smiles. That's all gone. It's just bone.

Treat your stories like people. See the story for what it really is - and when you catch yourself comparing your story with someone else's, zoom out. Look at the whole novel. Is probably won't be a similar as you think.

Qualm #3: everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses

My cousin is a boss.

(just thought you ought to know)

I'll have to tell you all the full story sometime of how I became a writer, but my cousin played an integral role in that.

But today is confession day. And I'm here to say that ... I've always been a little jealous of my cousin.

She has such an amazing brain. Her ideas - just ... WOW. So many, so creative, so all over the place. They come so effortlessly to her (or seemingly so).

And like, this girl ... you should see her work at characters. She has page after page after page of backstory on her characters. And not just the main ones. If I asked her who her MC's cousin's best childhood friend was, she would be able to look at me and tell me a summary of this person's life, including major events that shaped them into the person they are today. It doesn't even matter to her if they're in the story or not. Legit. Like, I am not exaggerating. It's crazy.

My brain doesn't work like that. I don't understand how she can do it, and I used to get really down about it. Like, can't I be awesome like that too, please?

But that's not how I work. I come up with the character backstory I really need and don't go much further. (except for in world building - hehehe) and that works for me. Backstory is one of her greatest writing strengths. World building is mine.

We are different.

And that is okay. It is nothing to feel down about, or ashamed of.


Take a closer look before you say something is "better" or "worse". Think more of differences and the beauty we have in being unique. Reevaluate how you think when you look at someone's blurb or snippet or word count. Don't think why can't I be like them? But try to appreciate them for who they are, and show that same courtesy to yourself.

NaNo is a giant, world wide effort. It's really easy to fall into the trap of comparing. You're writing alongside thousands of other writers! Of course it's going to be difficult not to look over their shoulders and see their word count and their snippet that looks so beautiful and say, WHY CAN'T I WRITE LIKE THAT?

But please don't. Don't see differences as being better or worse. Just look at them as differences. It will make the world a much more beautiful place.

How goes nano for you all (if you're doing it)? Do you struggle with comparing?

<3

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27 comments

  1. Can I give you a big hug? Because this post... ack. *spreads it to all corners of the universe*

    That's all I can even say. xD

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    1. Ahwww <3 I thought of you when I wrote it <3

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    2. You have no idea how touched I am to hear that! <3

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  2. Okay but how is it possible for me to be so inspired every darn time I come on your blog??

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  3. Oh.My.Gosh. This post is like speaking to my soul! I've struggled with that so many times (and still do) Thank you for this lovely reminder, Hannah.

    <3

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    1. Thank YOU for reading, and for being courageous and bringing your unique talents to the world <3

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  4. THIS. POST. HANNAH. *flails*

    HOW are you able to be so encouraging and inspiring EVERY SINGLE TIME you post? Seriously. I loved this. SO MUCH. THANK YOU for posting this *hugs*. (and yes we are both writing about dreams and YES WE ARE BOTH EPIC and YES YES YES I want to read you story, I'll take it from you right now and devour it, please and thank you *nodnod*)

    Okay, okay, now that I'm done being excessively thankful that you posted this (I'm basically thankful that you have a blog because I LOVE READING ALL THE HANNAH POSTS) - YOU REACHED 50K!!! *tosses candy and confetti* *and gives you ice cream, because you definitely deserve it* GOOD FOR YOU, HANNAH! Can't believe you already beat NaNo! :D YOU ARE EPIC *nodnod*

    ~ Savannah
    scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com

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    1. DAWWW you're so sweet! <3 Yessss we are both BOSSES. *fist bumps* *also dances in confetti and candy because MY FAMILY HAD NO JUNK FOOD FOR ME TO CELEBRATE WITH*

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  5. *hugs* I LIKE DUDE SAME! When I read about your book, I thought a few things: I severely hoped it didn't look like I'd totally hacked your computer and stole your ideas, and also I thought that your book was sooo much better. YOU *SQUEAKS* YOU IS SO FABULOUS AND YAS DIS POOOOST!
    NaNo has slowed. Severely. So today I'm hoping to pass 50k. *nods* This post was soooo good do!

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    1. Dude - if you think about it, it's kind of cool that we chose to write about dreams? Like, out of all the things! So instead of getting nervous and freaking out about it, I was like WE CAN GIGGLE / COMPLAIN TO EACH OTHER YES. XP And wait, do you mean pass 50k today??? Or this month? Either way, you've totally got this! *fist bumps*

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    2. *nods* YUP I PASSED 50K TODAY-ALSO I WILL TOTALLY LIKE COMPLAIN AND SQUEAL ABOUT DREAMS BECAUSE I DO BOTH...xD

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  6. Ahhh this post is so good!!! I struggle with comparison all the time, particularly with my story ideas. When I saw another writer sharing a story idea similar to one of my books a few months ago, I was crushed. I thought of giving up on the story right then and there. It took awhile to realize that some elements might be similar, but no one can write the same story. Everyone has their different spin on it, their different angle, and that's amazing. :)

    Have I told you how much I love your posts? They're so beautiful and inspiring, and always put me in a better mood. *hugs* Thank you for them Hannah! <3

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    1. Yes, definitely! We all have a story to offer the world, and only we can tell it <3 And you're so sweet! I always enjoy your posts too! <3 <3

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  7. Whoa. Can I just say that I can relate, and this was super inspiring? I mean, some days, I FEEL LIKE A WRITING FAILURE. But that's okay. Thanks for writing! =)

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    1. Aw. Nuuuu *hugs* There is no such thing as a writing failure. Only people, trying and not quite getting there yet. Keep trying! <3

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  8. Hannah. Haaannnahhh how are you so amazing with your words and inspiring and encouraging others? I hate that I compare myself to others, but yet I do it. Like coming to your blog and wondering how it is that you're able to be so epic with your words every time.

    But I love your reminders. SO MUCH. Everyone is awesome in their own ways, and I am so proud with all that you've done and am grateful to know you. You're a boss and thank you for this. <3

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    1. WOMAN. You are such an amazing human and I love you so much ahdflkjasdhf <3 And just because I wrote this doesn't mean I don't struggle. I have trouble not comparing myself to your amazingness because YOU ARE JUST SUCH A BOSS HALP *flops in my incoherency*

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  9. I CANNOT EVEN BEGIN TO TELL YOU HOW MUCH I NEEDED THIS TODAY. Literally last night I was falling into a pit of depression over my book and just feeling like "ugh this is trash and there is nothing special about it" but then I came to the realization that I'm thinking those thoughts ONLY BECAUSE OF COMPARISON. AND I DON'T KNOW HOW TO STOP COMPARING BUT I HATE IT SO MUCH AND IT MESSES ME UP SO BAD. so yes. EVERY WORD of this post is so right on and just hit home so hard.

    Also I am basically your cousin. MAJOR PLOTTER RIGHT HERE. xD But it's exactly what you said — that's what works for me. Plotting intensely and writing lots of backstory is just my process. If I didn't do that, I don't know how I would write. It might amaze someone else that I can come up with all these ideas and backstories, but IT AMAZES ME TO SEE PANTSTERS CRANK OUT BOOKS BEFORE THEY EVEN KNOW WHAT IT'S ABOUT. So we should all respect and enjoy each other's processes and not compare. I TOTALLY AGREE 100%.

    This post was beautiful and eloquent and I NEEDED IT SO MUCH.

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

    >><<
    abbiee

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    1. Awwww *hugs* I am so so glad that this post came at the right time for you! Keep writing and being your own unique, amazing self! <3

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  10. What?! This post is amazing, and so relevant in every area of life, not just with the giant of NaNo. Like, I'm not doing NaNo, I've never written a book, but I still feel this post so much. So, thank-you, and I just have to say this again: I really appreciate how you write straight from the heart, and your rants are the best. xx

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    1. Awwww thank you so much <3 I'm glad you see how it applies in other areas! That's my hope, that people can apply this stuff to not only their writing, but to other areas of their life as well. <3

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  11. Yesss.

    I'm not doing NaNoWriMo but when I see people's snippets, I think "I gotta catch up on this writing thing." xD Ha, hopefully the feeling will pass.

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    1. *hugs* I understand that feeling. It can be hard, but you just have to remember that you are you, and you are beautiful as you are and you don't work like other people. You're unique and lovely as you are <3

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  12. OH MY GOODNESS THIS POST IS GREAT AND SO TRUE AND SO NEEDED. You just earned yourself a new follower. Legit. (I seriously am still kinda sad cuz I didn't do NaNo this year and like all of my friends were doing it and I felt soooo left out...comparison is a beast even when you're NOT doing NaNo, it seems. :P) THANK YOU FOR THIS POST.

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    1. Ahw <3 Thank you so much! :D Yes, comparison is always there, being a stupid ugly beast. But it's easier to fight than you might think! Our differences are hard to feel bad about when we realize just how cool it is to be unique <3

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  13. Holy CATS! I found this JUST when I needed it- Thanks!

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