Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Releasing Ourselves from the Writing Comparison Trap

by Vonda Skelton @VondaSkelton

No matter where we are on this writing
journey, we tend to compare.
Beginning in 2003 and continuing through 2011, my writing partner, Edie Melson and I led yearly NCompass Writing Retreats. The goal of each retreat was to offer a time of refreshing, refueling, and of course, writing and rewriting. But in our last year of retreats, we realized that year’s focus was on another re: releasing.

Let’s face it, no matter where we are on this writing journey, we tend to compare. We compare our words to other writers and determine our worth. We compare their publications to our rejections. We long for their successes and see ourselves as failures.

Even multi-published mega-authors can succumb to comparison. Why did her book do so well when mine is obviously better? How could the movie producer choose his memoir over mine?

Comparison is a trap
Comparison is trap that can lead to anger, frustration, jealousy, and resentment. It can lead to quitting when God says to keep going.

But the correct response to comparison is simple: release it. Release the responsibility to succeed. Release the motivation to beat out others. Release the drive for big sales, major contracts, and movie deals.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t do our best to learn and grow as writers and to seek to get our work out–we should! His Word says to do everything with excellence. But it does mean the motivation must be more than simply money and recognition.

God is ultimately the one who determines our paths.
As followers of Christ, our motivation must be to please Him by developing the gift He’s given us, and then accept the truth that He is in control.

We can work hard and work smart and do everything we’re taught as writers…and still receive rejections.

Because we’re not in control.

We can take classes and rewrite till our fingers bleed…and never see our names on the cover of a book.

Because we’re not in control.

God can choose to bless a less-than-perfect book…while letting a well-written one sit on the shelf. And whether we agree or not, we must release it to Him.

It’s through the release that we truly become successful Christian writers. Because then He can use our words to change hearts for eternity…regardless of how we compare to others.

How do you find release from comparisons? Be sure to leave your tips in the comments section below.

Vonda Skelton is a speaker and the author of four books: Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe and the 3-book Bitsy Burroughs mysteries for children 8-12 yo. She’s the founder and co-director of Christian Communicators Conference, offering speakers’ training and community for Christian women called to ministry. Vonda is a frequent instructor at writer’s conferences and keynotes at business, women’s, and associational events. You can find out more about Vonda, as well as writing opportunities and instruction at her writer’s blog, The Christian Writer’s Den at


Nicole said...

If we truly believe we write with God-given talent, desire, inspiration, or determination, we must prepare ourselves for exactly what you expressed here. They're His books, it's His plan, and we're blessed to be able to write or type those words. We tend to compare, but we've got to move past it because there will always be someone better, more successful, more, more, more.

Good post, Vonda.

Lettie Kirkpatrick-Burress said...

And, oh how this applies to so much more than just the "writing life"! Social media, of course, can fuel that weakness. I used to think I did not "covet" until I began to see and often resent all the "perfect" :-) lives and careers of others... especially after I was shelved/sidetracked to become Phil's 24 hour caregiver. So thankful God put His convicting reminder on my heart to be alert and watch for that tendency now.

Barbara V. Evers said...

I heard it best in a recent editing workshop: we write the best that we can at the time. Tomorrow, next month, next year, it will be better because we seek to do better. For some reason, that resonated with me and released me from the comparison trap.

Tim Suddeth said...

To think that one day I'll see my book on His shelf. That'll make it all worth it. If He doesn't correct the ending.
Of course, He may be a all non fiction guy. I doubt it, He's too creative.

Kimberly Long said...

Wow, I wish I could write an article like you, Vonda! Lol. One of the ways that helps me to keep from comparing my work to others is to be complimentary of their work and truly admire the things I liked. I think of the things that attract me and ask if I could be better in that specific area. It's the same as when I see a beautiful woman. Is it her smile, her hair, her fit body that attracts me? I make it a point to compliment her and if it was her hair, I might find a better product for mine. Or look at magazines and find a more pleasing style for my own. So, in writing it may be the humor I'm attracted to. I believe we all have humor when we are being most like ourselves, so this would be my goal. May we all be our unique selves!