Positive Writer

Write with More Confidence and Greater Satisfaction

4 Ways to Turn Comparison into Powerful Creative Fuel

Editor’s note: This guest post is by Jackie Johansen, she is a writer who combines personal development with actionable writing strategies. She is the creator of the 21 Day Writing Challenge and the Finally Writing Toolbox at FinallyWriting.com.

Comparison can kill your creativity. It can stop your writing in its tracks. When the comparison bug hits, you feel small, deflated, uncomfortable and uninspired.

Comparison makes you doubt your ability, your message and all that you originally felt driven and inspired by.

Comparison can make us play small. So let’s change that…

no-comparisons

Moments of comparison can hit quickly and without warning.

Maybe you are innocently hanging out online and find someone writing about the same thing you are. Or maybe you go to a blog for inspiration but quickly think about how shiny and perfect their site is in comparison to yours.

When comparison strikes, it can feel like a punch to your gut.

You feel yourself contract; you feel your heart beat faster. It makes you feel deflated and want to put the pen down.

In these times, we are put at a crossroads: Get stuck in the negative experience of comparison; or find a way to create anyways and turn the negative feelings into creative fuel.

It’s imperative that you take the road of creating anyways.

You need to find ways to keep writing because your writing matters. It matters to you, to your readers and to the collective consciousness of the world.

I have been caught in the comparison trap many times, and have stood at the cross roads of going forward or putting my pen down.

However, I have found that the more we consciously move through these feelings, the stronger we stand as writers and in ourselves. Our work comes together in impactful and beautiful ways.

Here are four ways to turn comparison into creative fuel:

1. Reframe Your Thinking

Comparison is a frame of mind. Luckily, you have the power to change your thinking.

It is incredibly helpful to think about comparison as a mirror to the possibilities that are lying dormant within you. When you are comparing yourself to others, doubting your work and ability, notice what it is you admire in the other.

Get clear and specific.

These qualities and accomplishments are all possibilities for you. The only difference is that you have not fully stepped into these possibilities for yourself.

This is your potential. Comparison can be a gift of consciousness, which illuminates what is possible for you.

2. Write Through Discomfort

When in a comparison trap, write.

As a writer, you are given the call to write. Because of this, trust. Trust in the journey. Trust in the writing practice to guide you through challenging feelings.

The act of writing can constellate creativity, inspiration and joy. It heals and helps us think through challenges.

Journal or do some creative writing about what you are feeling and what is coming up for you.

When you write through comparison, rather than being paralyzed by it, you will gain insight, courage and motivation to keep going.

3. Notice Patterns

There are often patterns that act as a through line between who and what you compare yourself to.

Notice these patterns. Use them as information.

By being aware of the themes and patterns that trigger you, you gain power over how you can react.

With clarity, you can anticipate comparison hitting, pause and say to yourself, “okay, I’ve been through this before. I am going to keep writing anyways and trust the comparison is mirroring what I am capable of.”

The more aware you are, the more empowered you become.

4. Share Your Work

This might feel counter intuitive when in a comparison rut, but when you share your work, whether it be on a blog, social media, or with a friend, you take back ownership of your writing and your muse rewards you.

Sharing helps breathe new life into your project and it builds confidence. (Click to Tweet)

When we share, ideas flow and clarity comes.

By taking expansive action by sharing, rather than constrictive action by stopping, you will build your confidence muscles, find your motivation and come across new and creative ways of going forward with your work.

Since we’re talking about sharing, how about sharing your latest work below in the comments? I look forward to seeing what you’re working on.

Comparison can be a killer to your creativity and confidence, but it doesn’t have to be.

Remember that you are being called to write for a reason. Comparison is part of a larger creative process.

The more you write through challenging feelings, and put your work into the world, the more empowered you become.

Trust the process, trust the challenging emotions that are coming up as ones to learn and grow from.

Keep writing. Keep creating. Know that confidence and comparison are two sides of the same coin.

When feeling down or deflated, feeling empowered and creatively alive is just around the corner. Keep going. You will emerge feeling more inspired, creative and solid.

You’re awesome! Know that.

Don’t’ forget to share your latest project in the comments.

About Jackie Johansen

My name is Jackie and I am a writer. I believe that sharing our stories, and unique voices, can create big, beautiful, positive change in the world. You can find me on my blog finallywriting.com and follow me on Twitter: @finallywriting

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins

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  • Thank you for this! Perfect reading for me for today. I have hit the comparison wall more times than I care to count, and I never thought that what I’m fretting about when I compare is actually seeing a possibility for what I could achieve; I just need to stop and realize I’m not there yet…but can be. That in and of itself is empowering! Thank you for that wise perspective.

    I have notions of writing a book one day, but for now my most creative project is the rare opportunity I have enough time to post on my blog – here’s the link!

    http://www.bethcoulton.com

    • Thanks for sharing your blog and your experience. That is wonderful you are writing on your blog and putting yourself out there, even though comparison hits sometimes. I so appreciate your courage and creative spirit. Keep up the great work 🙂

  • Important subject! It’s counter-intuitive to work through all that comparison and doubt and discomfort, but I’ve found that doing so leads to such writing-joy that it would seem adversity is actually the “way” good writing is done. But I’m not sure we have to convince ourselves that “we’re being called” to write for any reason. We don’t need a reason. Not, at least, in relation to anything beyond our own unfolding. Finally, I like Woody Allen’s attitude — it is said he never reads reviews or criticism because he’s too busy working on his next project. I like that!

    • PJ, I love that from Woody Allen! Good stuff. Also, your point about writing being about our own unfolding is beautifully said. I have found this to be true for myself and am so glad you added it to the conversation.

  • I’m working on a vampire erotic horror novel simply called ‘Vamps’. I’m just going through the rewrites now. It should be finished by this summer. 🙂

    • That’s awesome, congratulations!

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    LOVEE YOU, Jackie!

    Just yesterday, I read a brilliant article by a famous blogger about a mutually passionate topic. Her storytelling skills made me cry – first out of envy, then out of self-pity and finally out of guilt.

    Thirty minutes later, I decided that I was being silly and just needed to write the same story in my voice…it might not be as impactful, but it is still mine. I haven’t written it yet – and might not write it for a while, but I am glad I saw past the jealousy anyway 😉 LOL

    Indeed, I battle comparisons every day – and lose every time. Your post has ignited my motivation to plow through these frustrating feelings!

    KITTO

    • Kitto ~ I say you are a total winner. That is huge to shift your perspective from comparison to creating from your own voice. Keep plowing through, it will be so worth it. xox

  • This is wonderful and practical advice, Jackie. It’s so easy to fall into the rabbit hole of comparison and self-doubt. Thank you for sharing these great tips!

    • Dana, I am so happy you enjoyed the article and it resonated with you. Lots of love to you on your writing journey.

  • Hi Jackie, the best piece of advice is when you say keep writing – you only have to write one sweet clever sentence to make you feel all better again.

    You are right, comparing your work, or even yourself, with another can seem challenging and oddly self-destructive, but in reality it is essential.

    Understanding why another is, perhaps, writing better than your or being more successful is part of the puzzle of being a success in yourself, whether that is just for yourself or for others; you do not have to expose your work to public gaze to still enjoy writing.

    Publishers often say that the best writers started out as prolific readers and the connection is pretty obvious.

    I would give two pieces of advice I would give to anyone who fears they are underperforming by their own standards:

    1. Plan better. Writing is a journey along a path. That journey is a lot more fun if you have a map; you can give yourself time to enjoy the view rather than worrying that you are lost.

    2. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself and delete large chunks. It is far too easy to keep a huge useless chunk just because you wrote one neat line in the middle. Save the line somewhere for future use and throw the rest in the bin and shut the lid!

    I wrote a piece on using OneNote for planning, if anyone is interested:

    http://cchogan.com/using-onenote-for-your-novel/

    And there is lots of other rubbish in there too.

    Remember: writers are meant to be self-centered, hopelessly flawed furry creatures. Wallow in your self doubt and enjoy every moment! There might be a creative spark under that rock somewhere.

    • C.C. I just loved reading your comment. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, humor and perspective. I love your added suggestions. I have found having a map is important to me as well. Also, you share such an important reminder about keeping a sense of humor with ourselves and our work. I think this helps us keep in the creative flow, out of our own way and create more organically.

  • Great post Jackie! Thank you so much for sharing this.

    My latest project is working on a series of posts on my blog about what employers look for in a resume. It hit a bit of a lull earlier this month and this post is exactly what I needed to get back on track!

    http://bestwordforward.net/project/employer-questions-who-are-you/
    http://bestwordforward.net/project/employer-questions-what-can-you-do-for-me/

    • Jonathan, I am so glad to hear that! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Hi Jackie,

    I agree with you. Comparison can kill not just a writer’s creativity but anyone’s. Everybody is competitive these days. The combination of competition and comparison can kill anybody’s creativity and motivation.

    Checking out he competition is always wise. However, it shouldn’t be at such a level that interferes with the quality of your work.

    Thanks for sharing these valuable tips.