Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Do you compare your writing to others, both published and unpublished?

I think it's impossible to not compare, at least at some level.

But is comparing a bad thing or a good thing?

I know there are a number of bad reasons to compare... like, it can discourage you about your own writing, or it can frustrate you to see a book in print that (comparatively) isn't all that well written.

Also, it's not like comparing an apple to an apple, there's no way to find a story where every aspect can directly be compared to your own.

If you take the bad comparisons too far, I think a writer's own voice can become stunted if they try to emulate another writer's work that they consider *better* than their own. Or, they will become bitter about the entire process/business and quit writing.

But what are the good aspects of comparing one's literary work to others?

I think it's the only true way to determine where your limits are.

If you're writing in a vacuum, you'll have no sense whether what you're working on is good, bad, overwritten, sparse, poorly paced, etc. You'll never know where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

Comparing is the only true way to better understand your own writing, and (hopefully), set the baseline from which to lay out new goals, figure out where you can improve, and not just take your strengths for granted.

What do I mean by that last bit?

Well, I think it's part of giving back, especially in the online community and within your own writing groups.

Understanding your own strengths is a great way to help others when they are weak in those areas. If queries come really easily to you, it's a wonderful thing to be able to lend a hand to someone who tears out their hair, but you won't be any help at all if you don't understand why you can write good queries.

We learn best from each other, and I think that's an awesome thing.

Analyzing your strengths is just as important as analyzing your weaknesses. And any strength can still be improved upon.

Personally, I know I compare my writing to my writing group/CP's more than I compare to published work. I think this is because I know them, I know their processes, and I can often recognize the intention/force that drives their storytelling.

With a published author, I get none of that behind-the-scenes information.

One big thing I totally envy about the other members of my writing group is they always seem to have so much more plot than I do! (yes, BOTH of you...)

As a pantser, one worry that always hangs close is that I'm going to run out of plot. Somehow, things always seem to work out in the end, but when I've written to the point where I don't know anything else... oh yeah, that's when the voice of doubt starts whispering...

Like right now... as I'm trying to write the night that Jackson died... and have gotten as far as Triss & the MC walking in the door. I (obviously) know how it ends... but my word count is just under 40,000 words at this point. Even if that night takes 10,000 words to tell, that's still a very slim story.

So yes, right now I'm comparing, envying, analyzing my weaknesses, and striving to improve.

Oh! And I've just started to train my body to run in the Vibram five-fingers! This is exciting 'cause, as a teenager, I was told by a very famous sports doctor* that I was not allowed to run, ever (or use a bicycle) because I have zero cartilage in my knees.

BUT, the Vibrams? So far, I can run/jog/walk my dog for an hour without being crippled in pain afterwards, so, YEAH! stamina sucks though :p

*He took care of professional athletes, including a couple of the Vancouver Canucks... don't ask me how in the world I ended up getting to see a specialist of that caliber... I think my family doctor must have had good blackmail on the guy ;)


  1. I just like comparing myself to that Dr. Seuss guy. He wrote one story using 50 words. 50. I can use more than that in this COMMENT if I wanted to, so I'm clearly better than him.

    ... and, in seriousness, your current story has far, far more plot than Boy & Fox. I know the next two scenes. Beyond that is a giant emptiness ... one reason I think writing on this story goes so very slow. I am really not cut out for pantsing like this, but it IS a fun change.

    1. Alcar you totally crack me up :D

      And no way... Boy & Fox? There's like 12 different stories all wadded in there!!!

      Brake Fluid... seriously, how much can you go on about a guy who gets killed 'cause of a bunch of crazy bets?

      I love pant since 'cause it feels very much like my first snowboarding experience... I had no idea what I was doing and my sister left me at the top of the mountain and said, 'if you're not down in the parking lot by 8pm, we're leaving without you.'

      ...apparently I'm motivated by that whole sink-or-swim mentality ;)

  2. The apple comparison made a lot of sense for me, you wouldn't believe how much squabbling over crisp/soft and sweet/tart. Apples divide our household.

    Good luck with your writing - if you're a pantser can't you just add space monkeys? ;)

    1. Hahahahaha, sorry, space monkeys just wouldn't work in this case ;)

      Though I DID figure out a good next-step to further complicate the 'present' timeline.

  3. What a great way to look at it! I do compare myself to people, but I always beat myself up about it because it seems (to me) like I may do it in a petty way, and that's not productive. Everyone's circumstances are different! I will look at it as a way of appreciating my strengths (and maybe using them to help others) while keeping in mind what I need to improve.

    1. Sometimes you might not even know what your strengths are until someone starts comparing their work to yours ;)

      I know I was certainly blown away by the 'Picture = 1000 words blogfest' story you whipped out!


  4. unofrtunately I do which tempts me to hit the delete button for my writing. And I also try to learn from what I read. And yeah lots of stuff in print that is utter crap. One of my blogs I mentioned below was inspired by someone else. I wish I could write like he does but again I’ve learned so much from his writing

    1. Often there are aspects of another writer's work that I love and wish I could do...

      and what always brings me back to my senses is realizing that it works in THEIR story, but it wouldn't necessarily work in MINE.

      Like, I know a lot of people who love Tolkien are blown away by his in-depth descriptions and all the different cultures within his stories...

      But can you imagine that in a contemporary story? It would be horribly dull...


Type me out a line of Shakespeare or a line of nonsense. Dumb-blonde-jokes & Irish jokes will make me laugh myself silly :)