How Writers Can Escape the Comparison Trap

Hating your idol won’t bring you success.

Image by iordani / Shutterstock

Comparison is a tricky game. It starts out innocent enough, where you look up to people just ahead of you in the game. You might feel inspiration from their journey, along with all the possibilities it presents for your own journey. And then things shift. It could be a slow turning point or an overnight event, but suddenly your idol’s journey doesn’t feel so inspirational anymore. It feels like an attack. You look at all the good things coming their way and wonder why they aren’t coming to you. You see their happiness in an Instagram selfie, or all the fans who leave comments on their social media posts. Meanwhile, your social media isn’t experiencing the same kind of joy or attention from others. You think, “Maybe if I tried this…” and then go on an experiment spree where you switch up your Instagram filters, put your books up for free, spam “Buy my book” on social media, and then wish really hard things would change. Meanwhile, your idol-turned-nemesis is swimming laps while you’re just treading water.

Suddenly your idol’s journey doesn’t feel so inspirational anymore. It feels like an attack.

You guys, it’s a trap. While you’re shooting daggers at your nemesis, they’re going through their own struggles with success. You just can’t see it. You have no idea how they’ve hustled for their success, all the hoops they’ve had to jump through, all the disappointments they’ve faced, or the struggles they’re still enduring. All you see is the smiling selfie on Instagram, and you’ve attached your own ideals of perfection to the image.

Hating your idol will not bring you success. That resentment is only holding you back.

Really, comparison has to do with jealousy. And jealousy is because you’re lacking something you want, and you believe that other person has it. So what do you do?

First, figure out what it is that you really want.

Is it to gain a bigger following on Instagram? Finish writing your novel? Write a swoon-worthy romance scene? Hit triple digits in this month’s royalties? Write down everything you want, and then look for the things you have utter control over.

Second, what can you do today to support your goals?

How about this week? What about this month? List it all out, and then break it up into manageable steps. Some things may take more time than others, but actively working on your goals works a whole lot better than wishing things were different…or hating your idol.

Third, distance yourself from your idol.

Unfollow them on social media if you have to. In fact, make social media less accessible. For me, that meant taking social media off my phone so that I wouldn’t scroll in my low times and get caught in the comparison trap. My mental health was a lot more important than seeing what my idol-turned-nemesis was up to. Your mental health is important, too.

Finally, get back to writing.

That’s really the most important, isn’t it?

Want to join a journey of self-kindness, confidence, and accountability for writers? Find me at The Writers Therapist.

To find my books and personal stories, I’m at crissilangwell.com.

I’m all over the place, but I try to be honest in all of it. Find my books and musings at crissilangwell.com.

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