Comparison Doesn’t Work
But that’s the surest road to making a poor decision. We can’t compare ourselves to others. We have to know ourselves and accept the fact that we’re unique individuals and our experience isn’t going to be exactly like anyone else’s.
Some people write a novel a year. Others need two years to get out a good novel. Still others write two (or even three) novels a year. Wherever you happen to be on that spectrum—it’s okay. It’s who you are. Don’t let anyone try to talk you into being something different.
My friend Dave Cullen worked on his book Columbine for nearly ten years. One of my favorite authors, Tom Wolfe, reportedly spent ten years working on his novel, A Man in Full, to the point that when his children were asked, “What does your dad do for a living?” they replied, “He writes a book called A Man in Full.”
We are who we are. The same thing applies when we talk about plotting versus pantsing (meaning whether or not you plot and outline before writing your book). It’s great to try different techniques, see what works for you. And it may take you several books to find your most effective process. But don’t try to be either a plotter or a pantser just because your friend or your favorite author does it. Find who you are, and be the best you that you can be.
Most writing teachers advise you write first drafts quickly with very little self-editing along the way. And yet… some people function better if they do a little editing even in the first draft. Listen to good advice, but try not to compare yourself to others.
Everyone’s different. Don’t accept a process or technique just because someone tells you that you should, or because you think there’s one “right” way to be a writer.
Experiment, try different methods, but remember: Don’t try to be someone else. Just be you. Because after all, you’re the only you there is.
Q4U: In what areas of writing or publishing have you been especially prone to comparing yourself to others?
© 2010 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent