IWSG: Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Last week, I was quietly horrified to hear the story of an author who had assumed a "sock puppet" identity and had used it to trash other authors in her genre, apparently in the hope that readers would flock to her after seeing the others had such bad reviews.

Putting aside the terrible ethics of the situation, this author was afflicted with the notion that her fellow writers are competitors, that the readers are a finite resource, and any success of others takes away from her own. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Envy is a natural reaction when human beings encounter another person who is far more successful in their chosen field. We've all seen the over-night Cinderella success stories of Amanda Hocking, E.L. James, and Molly McAdams. Every author dreams of their book being widely read, and it's tempting to fall into jealousy and perhaps snipe that the successful ones don't really "deserve" to be where they are. And the most dangerous pitfall of all: comparing our work to theirs.

We might think our work is better. We might think it's worse. We might question what they have that we don't. We could become disdainful of the public's taste, or consider altering our work to be more in line with the current trend. We might find ourselves in that sticky tar pit of self-doubt. Whatever the case, this sort of comparison rarely has any positive outcome.

The quote is attributed to Franklin Roosevelt. Comparison is the thief of joy. Wiser words have been rarely spoken. 

We cannot compare our experiences, journey or successes to other authors because we're all so very different. We're not producing the same "product" so there's no logical way to make a direct comparison that provides any meaningful-- or helpful-- analysis. All of us are on a different journey on different roads, using different forms of transportation. It's not a board game where all players are on the same path to a SUCCESS box, dependent on a correct roll of the dice or being able to "bump" another player back a few spaces. 

Everyone is playing their own game, with their own rules, their own challenges, and their own definition of winning. And it's a game we all can win.

.¸¸•.¸¸.•´¯`• (¯`•♥•´¯)•´¯`•.¸¸.•.¸¸.

You can see my other posts for the Insecure Writer's Support Group here, and visit the main blogroll here.


  1. excellent post. Dealing with my own internal dramas at the moment. So i get what you're putting down.

  2. Well said, my friend. Thanks for posting this.

  3. Great post. The thief to joy can creep in and dishearten anyone. Best to be content with your own progress and concentrate on improving yourself than engage in counterproductive activities such as sniping at others.


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