Tackling writer’s guilt and comparison-itis

It seems that modern life encourages envy. We’re constantly shown images of people who have what we want and are told that we should have the same. But this isn’t the case.

There’s a reason that envy (or jealousy) is a deadly sin. It can be very destructive, but it can also be a force for the positive. It’s possible to feel envious of someone, without wishing them harm. For instance, when you hear about a writer who can produce four books a year, blog regularly and spend a seemingly large amount of time on social media, it’s easy to feel envious of their productivity. But it’s important to remember that their life may be very different to yours. If you’re juggling a full-time job, children, a partner and an extended family, then chances are you’re going to struggle to write four books a year.

I still see my lack of productivity as a failure. I look at what other people achieve and turn a sickly shade of emerald. But, and this is the big but, I don’t wish they didn’t have their success and I don’t wish for it to be taken away from them. Instead I wish I could be better. I wish I had their stamina, their drive and their energy. (I also wish I watched less TV but more about that on another occasion!)

There are a few simple things you can do to cope with a nasty bout of comparison-itis:

1. Accept the differences – you don’t face the same challenges that someone else might have. Writing may be their full-time job, which will naturally mean they have more time to write. Instead of feeling jealous, look for ways you can maximise your own time. Make a plan of what you want to achieve. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but have a prize to aim for.

2. Choose your own prize – instead of wasting time feeling envious, get to work on the project you want to work on. Practise what will get you there. Set aside writing time and actually use it. For writing. Nothing else. Trust me, you’ll feel better once you start heading towards your goals.

3. Make the most of whatever time you have – I moaned to a friend who has recently set up her own sewing business about my lack of time to do writing. She smiled and said ‘I have the same with social media for the business. But I just take my tablet on the train to work and do it then’. What a sensible woman she is! I have a 40 min train commute to work – I used to write in the mornings so why am I not using this ‘dead time’? I immediately took her advice on board and even wrote this blog post on my mobile while in a hotel reception waiting for other people to be ready for an evening out.

I still feel guilty for every second of time that I’m not using time for building my creative business. But that’s my problem to solve. Meanwhile I’m proud of my writer friends for their achievements, not least because it gives me something to aspire to. One day I will get there, and then hopefully I’ll be inspirational to someone else.

One thought on “Tackling writer’s guilt and comparison-itis

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  1. I don’t think you ever stop suffering from comparison-itis! There’s always that feeling that someone is doing better than you, no matter what stage you are at. But you’ve already worked out what to do… Accept that everyone has different challenges and different outputs, and use your own time wisely. I took some time away from social media to finish my last book, and I realised two things – one, I actually don’t need to know the ins and outs of the people inside my phone at all times (who knew!) And that I can write very quickly when I am focused. I’ve realised that I can tackle the next book in a much less stressful way. We’re always learning and evolving… And you will find your way too 🙂

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