Posted in The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing, Writing Life

Comparison, the Enemy of Creation?

Comparison can be great when looking to purchase a product, but how does it affect the creative life?

“Comparison can kill your spirit. The success of others does not equal your failure. When you’re making art that makes you happy, only you can declare your success or failure.” It’s the conclusion Michael Terracciano, an independent comic creator, has reached, and oh, do I love that middle sentence.

Why is it so easy to compare? I wish I knew. We do it all the time in so many areas of our life—especially those where we’re unhappy or not completely satisfied.

But how does comparison help us? There’s always someone “better” or “worse,” so we may feel either depressed or good about ourselves. Neither position changes our work or our worth. Wait. Depression can change our work because we might give up.  Christy O’Shoney said, “Comparison is a terrible measuring stick.”

Fanny Flagg said, “Being a successful person is not necessarily defined by what you have achieved, but by what you have overcome.” Or the progress you’ve made, I’d like to add.

Comparison of our previous work with our current work may be encouraging. I know I’ve looked back at older writing and thought, wow, I’ve learned a lot since then. Or, that needs editing, when before I thought it was “perfect.” As long as we don’t harp on “failures” of our past, but use them as touchstones to see how we are progressing, self-comparison can be helpful. David Schlosser agreed, “The only writer to whom you should compare yourself is the writer you were yesterday.”

William Blake said, “I will not reason and compare; my business is to create.” Maya Angelou said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” I see this so much in my writing life—the more I write, the more I want to write. And the more I compare, the less I want to write, so yes, I’d say comparison is the enemy of creation.

What do you think?

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6 thoughts on “Comparison, the Enemy of Creation?

  1. Long ago, when I ran an antique textile gallery (=previous life) I remember an old rug dealer telling me he learned from his (much older) grandfather to “not look who’s ahead or who’s behind” and just do good work. This (mostly) stayed with me as I continue to “just do good work.”

  2. Great quotes. I agree with compare and despair. I like Mirka’s rug-dealer’s advice to keep doing good work. Reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s advice to make good art.

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