Thursday, January 9, 2014

Don't Compare!

I've heard this on multiple occasions -> Don't compare your writing to the writing of others.

I did this last month. It was bad. It was a mistake. I won't be doing it again.

So what happened you ask? Well, I had previously edited the first few chapters of a current WIP. I liked the new chapters. I thought they were great edits. Then I went on a reading binge and compared my current WIP to those I was reading. This cannot, and did not, lead to anything good.

I ended up editing the first chapter over. I had decided based on several of these other books, that I was not approaching the first chapter correctly. I spent two days pouring over this one chapter trying to figure out what to cut out, what to add on to, and what to keep.

I then sent both versions to a couple of very trusted readers. It was unanimous. They didn't like the re-edited version. But they loved the original edit. In the end second guessing my work based on the work of others was a very bad thing. It took two days away from editing further chapters. Yet at the same time it helped me learn two very good lessons. Stop second guessing myself and don't compare my work to that of others.

Problems with comparing your work to that of others:

1) They are completely different stories. Unless you're writing the exactly same book, which is pointless, they aren't going to be the same. They can't be compared. 

2) The voice in all of the stories is different. Very very different. The circumstances of your character's existences different. Their whole story is different. Trying to change the voice of your story based on another author's is very, very bad for the story.

3) The pacing can't even be compared. It all comes back to the stories themselves. They are all different!

So trust me when I say this, don't compare your writing to that of others. Trust your instincts and don't second guess yourself.


  1. I know I can sometimes do the same. It's hard to know what's good enough when we're not a 100 percent sure it's going to be a hit with an agent, editor, and publisher. We just have to trust what we've learned and forge ahead.

    1. So very true! I do tend to over think my projects sometimes and trust we'll get there eventually.