Is Comparison Killing Your Creativity?
How do you feel when someone says, “I wrote 5000 words today” when all you managed was 500 or 50 or only 5?
What is your response when you see someone produce a new story every week and you struggle to write a new story once a month, or even once a year?
Do you feel discouraged when you see someone produce new art works when you’re still stuck on your first?
Do you want to give up when you can’t practice your instrument as often as you like and you see your skills slipping behind in comparison to another player?
I’ve seen people excel in word counts, submissions, practice routines and regimes, art works. I’ve compared myself to others in what I haven’t done. I have flagellated myself with,
“Why haven’t you…?”
“If you’d only…”
With the beginning of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) I am seeing writers post their spectacular word counts over the early days: two or three thousand words, up to five thousand words in a few sittings.
I am not participating in NaNoWriMo. Instead, I am working on a novella. Because I am a teacher, time is precious, so I have committed to writing a minimum of 100 words, five days a week. Since the start of Term 4 I have managed 3,500 words.
In comparison, my word count is paltry, pitiful, execrable, measly and *feel free to insert your own choice words here*
Comparison will kill your creativity.
It will stifle your ambition and plans until your dreams and visions are merely dried out husks, rotting in the back of the fridge like forgotten leftovers.
When you compare yourself with others, you kill any opportunity of developing your creativity. Comparison against others is measuring yourself against another person’s set of values, attitudes, structures, plans, visions. They are not your values, attitudes, structures, plans, visions.
If I compare myself to what others are achieving in NaNoWriMo, I will feel less than the scrapings from the bottom of student’s school bag. I will not compare myself with others and regret what I haven’t done but celebrate what I have achieved.
You have your own race to run. You have your own values, attitudes, structures, plans and visions to fulfil.
You can use others as inspiration, just not as a comparison.
How do you avoid the demoralising impact of comparing yourself with others and maintain creative integrity?
Creativity is about:
Connection brings you into contact with other like-minded people. Finding a shared connection in creative pursuits leads to conversation.
Conversation is the opportunity to discuss ideas, habits, routines, progress. We engage with one another in conversation, to share our individual journeys and encourage one another to continue. We celebrate the victories with each other, encourage those who have fallen behind by attending to their blistered heels and untied shoelaces. By doing so, we develop community.
Community is about serving one another in love, developing and building each others’ creative skills. Community builds character not comparison. Community builds creativity because it empowers the individual to fulfil their plans and visions and dreams.
Comparison creates a sense of inferiority causing you to change your view of your goals and visions. It drains you of your creative vitality. You see other’s creative triumphs and victories but not your own. Ultimately, you lose your creative vision.
Instead, find a connection with creative people. Engage in conversation with them and develop a community.