Writers, Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Ours is a competitive industry. And even though I have found the world of kidlit to be generally friendly and supportive, the truth is that there are a LOT of us writing and hoping to fill a limited number of slots in the publishers' catalogs (or awards lists or school visit budgets or whatever). So it can be easy to get caught up in comparisons: x book got a bigger advance, y book sold more copies, z book was named to Random Awesome Book List (and my book wasn't).

All one has to do to get mired in the Competitive Swamp is to visit Twitter or go to a conference or talk to another writer in the industry, and there it is, right in your face: someone else who's doing better than you. Which is 
1. crazy talk 
 2. crazy-making 
 3. creativity-killing 
 4. depressing 
 5. insane

I know because I've been there. Lots of times! It's been my #1 bad habit as a writer.

But. NO MORE! I'm very deliberate these days about how much I expose myself to social media (which is a hotbed of comparison-crazy-making!). As an introverted person I kind of keep my head down anyway and don't do Facebook or Instagram at all, and Twitter only inconsistently.

But mostly I don't worry so much about what others are doing because I keep busy with my own books/life/dreams. The only real thing we have control over in this business is the words we put on the page. So these days that's where I keep my focus. Amazingly, this has freed me to celebrate not only my own successes, but those of others.

We may be in a competitive industry, but I'm the only ME in it -- and you're the only YOU.

Which makes James Bay's song “Let It Go” pretty much perfect.  Listen for these lines “why don't you be you and I'll be me.” And have yourself a fabulous 4th of July!

 Irene Latham is an Alabama author of more than a dozen current and forthcoming poetry, fiction and picture books for children and adults, including Leaving Gee's Bend, 2011 ALLA Children's Book of the Year and Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship (with Charles Waters). Winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, she also serves as poetry editor for Birmingham Arts Journal


  1. Thank you, MIchele, for reading!

  2. This has been one of the hardest habits for me to break, Irene. Thanks for "putting it out there" and for the nudge toward emphasizing what we do best...write!

  3. Yes! It really is an insidious habit... Good to be reminded against it!

  4. This is a timely, inspirational advice. Thank you!!!

  5. It's so true--and really, NOTHING feels better than celebrating others' successes.

  6. Amen - a thousand times, amen!


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