Friday, March 5, 2021

The Dangers of Comparing Yourself to Other Writers

by A.C. Williams @ACW_Author

For my creative writing minor, my college required that I take a poetry workshop. Not going to lie, I dreaded it. I’d never been good at poetry. In fact, the only poetry I’d ever been able to write had been limericks. Light, fluffy, funny, usually irreverent. I’d been told that a person’s skill at poetry was a measurement of the depth of their soul, and that seemed to ring true quite honestly. (Even as a teenager, I wore mismatched socks, dreamed of fantasy civilizations, and choreographed my own lightsaber battles in the back pasture of our farm.)

The poetry workshop actually turned out to be fun, and, God bless her, my poor beleaguered professor extended me such grace and patience. I struggled under the weight of the tiny word count and the expectation of descriptive vocabulary that superseded anything I’d attempted previously. In that semester-long workshop, I confirmed that I was not, nor would I ever be, a poet, but I learned something else too. Something more important.

I learned that I wasn’t a poet. I learned that many of the other students in the room were. And I learned that the creative world was big enough for all of us to not only coexist but to partner alongside each other.

I didn’t have to be a poet to craft beautiful, meaningful stories. Likewise, my very poetic fellow students didn’t have to posit theories of interdimensional travel in order to communicate. Yet as creatives, we often look to our peers and our heroes and fall into the trap of comparison. 

We look at Person A’s charisma and energy and feel unequal and frumpy. We look at Person B and recognize his talent, drawing a conclusion that we’ll never measure up. We admire Person C and her extraordinary imagination and believe that our little scribblings fall short.

Funny people want to be deep. Deep people want to be funny. Short fiction writers want to write epics, and epic writers want to be more concise. The grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t it?

But have you ever thought about the burden it would be if you were gifted at everything? Have you ever considered the blessing it is to have a specialty? The simple truth is that if you could do everything, you wouldn’t need anyone. In some cases that might be nice. People can be difficult and challenging, but I’d rather work with a challenging person once in a while and be part of a community than to be self-sufficient and totally alone.

What about you?

God didn’t make us to be self-sufficient. He didn’t create us with the intent of making us good at everything we try. He entrusted each and every one of us with specific talents to serve a specific purpose in His Big Story. It’s really easy to get distracted by wishing we could do something the way our heroes do it, but haven’t you thought about the fact that you can do something your heroes can’t?

You have a story to tell. You have a voice. You have life experience that no one else has. You have perspective and opinion and a remarkable anthem to sing that sounds nothing like anybody else’s. Do you know what that is? 

Not an accident.

In an industry overwhelmed with fear of the lack of originality, why on Earth would you want to be like anyone else? God has blessed every communicator with a unique gift. Sure, some of us are more skilled at writing funny stuff. Some of us are more skilled at explaining deep thoughts. Some of us can say more in 50 words than the rest of us can say in 50,000. It doesn’t make one of us better than the other. It makes us different pieces of one whole masterpiece—God’s story.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have heroes. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find others to admire and respect and learn from. We all need that. But if your admiration turns to comparison, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Don’t focus on what your heroes do that you can’t do. Instead, look at how God has prepared you in advance to do the work you’re doing right now. 

If you’re deep and not funny, embrace it. If you’re not deep but you can make people laugh, use it. Acknowledge that God made you the way you are, and He has a plan to use your gifts for His glory. When that’s what matters to you, it makes no difference if your work makes people cry or laugh, as long as God is glorified.

Don’t disparage your gift, whatever it is. God gave it to you, and He doesn’t give bad gifts.

The next time you are tempted to compare yourself to another artist or creative, stop. Don’t do it. Instead, look to the Lord who made you and ask Him what He thinks about your work. I guarantee He’ll be a lot kinder to you than you are to yourself.


A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if isn’t, her socks will never match. She likes her road trips with rock music, her superheroes with snark, and her blankets extra fuzzy, but her first love is stories and the authors who are passionate about telling them. Learn more about her book coaching services and follow her adventures on social media @ACW_Author.


  1. This is outstanding, Amy. It's exactly what Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 12. We are all part of a body, different functions, but meant to function as one whole. Every part is needed. Every part is significant. It's how God designed the church to be. I'm bookmarking this one!

    1. Thank you, Julie! It was something I truly needed to hear today.

  2. A great post full of wisdom and like Julie said in the above reply, Paul taught about this because it is a symptom of the human condition. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Love it so much. I need to read this every day.