Creative Ventures and Comparing Yourself to Others

creativity-396268_1920Hey all! I’m pleased to announce that as of two days ago, Opus Crescendo is off with my editors. And that I’ve commissioned the cover art. That means Opus Crescendo is most definitely a go for this year. I’m really pleased to have gotten through the revision as I was going through some rather difficult times. Here’s to hoping I can continue beating down depression and moving forward. I just have to keep on keepin’ on.

This is a post that is a long time coming. It’s one I’ve been wanting to try and cover for awhile (read: years), but never really been able to get my mind about how to address it. But I’m at least going to give an attempt now.

When you work in a creative field, you’re surrounded by people who are just as talented as you are, if not more talented. Or at least differently talented. And it can be hard to not draw comparisons. After all, such and such does so much better with descriptions, and so and so does way better with emotional scenes, and this person does that, and that person does this.

Noticing something?

You’re focused on other people.

What about your work?

what do you mean?

If you’re working on your own, creative ventures are something very special. They’re yours. Your work is uniquely yours. You created this. And just like with people, your work is not the same as other work.

There is almost a selfishness that comes with creating. This is yours. You created it and that is awesome. And while you still look at other peoples’ work to get inspiration or learn from them, you still maintain that there is something positive about your own work.

Look at others’ work, but keep your work in mind. Look at the work for specific reasons and then relate it back to yours – instead of thinking about ‘wow this person is so much better than me in every respect, I should just not try’, why not try to be more constructive about it? Maybe try ‘wow, this person has a really great grasp on building suspense. I could learn from this.’

but the others ARE better

No. They’re different. Maybe they do some things better than you, but perhaps you do some things better than them. There’s nothing constructive about looking at someone’s work and going ‘my work sucks in comparison, I might as well not try.’

That’s like me looking at J.K. Rowling’s work and deciding to never write again. Doesn’t that seem silly when I phrase it that way?

Creative work is a constant chase for improvement. There’s a reason I did the whole Your Writing Through the Years thing. It can be difficult for a writer to see how they’ve improved their writing over the years. It’s still difficult for me and I did that meme! But it was really apparent when I was doing some of the formatting and initial prep-work for the Opus series omnibus. My writing is vastly different now than when I wrote Opus Aria.

My point is that focusing on how other people are better than you isn’t constructive. Focus should be on improving your own work. Why? Because you can change how your own work is. You have no ability to change the work of others. Focus on the things you can change.

but that doesn’t change that my work sucks

I’ve shared how I feel about first drafts before. There is something wonderful about them, though. A first draft, even if it has plot holes and other things going wrong, is your first step onto a journey. You created this. You accomplished something. Even if it isn’t polished, that doesn’t change that you accomplished something.

And you know what? You can always revise your work. Polishing and depth sometimes come out in the revision process.

But you have to be willing to take that first step. You have to be willing to try. Because that’s the last thing about creative ventures. There’s part of you that has to be brave. I’m not a very brave person, maybe that’s why it took me so long to finish a novel in the first place. I’m terrified each time I put my work out. But when I get comments like this one from my tumblr, that makes me feel a whole lot better about what I’m putting out there.

this is getting long…

Am I putting out perfection? No. Am I putting out my best effort? Yes. Do I think I suck? Sometimes. But I keep trying to improve my work. And I think over the years, I’ve made some significant progress. Here’s to hoping that I can continue that trend.

Creative ventures are hard – and I think we’re all really brave for putting ourselves out there.

To those who are just starting your journey…keep your chin up. Instead of comparing yourself to another artist, try see how you can improve your own work. I’m not telling you to steal ideas, but you can learn a lot from reading or looking at other work. J.K. Rowling taught us about the art of foreshadowing (specifically with the deathly hallows and horcruxes), Hemingway taught us how to be concise, Faulkner teaches masterful stream of consciousness…and I could keep listing examples, but I think the point has been made.

Who else has issues comparing themselves to others?

Happy writing!
~LL

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Crossposted on my Patreon

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