Friday, August 6, 2021

Run Your Own Writing Race

by A.C. Williams @ACW_Author

Anybody else been watching the Olympics over the past few weeks? I sure have. I have marveled at the sheer physicality of these extraordinarily talented and dedicated athletes while I nosh on low-fat popcorn from the relative comfort of my couch and hum the Olympic theme on commercial breaks.

Aren’t the runners amazing? Those people are otherworldly in their grace and speed. They make running look effortless. Running is something I don’t do. Ever. The zombies can have me, and the rest of you can escape. I ain’t running.

But something stuck out to me, though, as I was watching the 400 meter dash the other evening. Every racer has his or her own lane, and their starting points are staggered along the curvature of the track. Why? Well, because geometry. (And that’s all I’m going to say because I hate geometry more than running.)

Because of the staggered starting points, it looks like the competitor on the outside track gets an advantage over the competitor on the inside track. They get to start further up. But the fact is, they are running the same distance. 

Hello, Amy, this is a writing blog. Why are you talking about sports? 

Well, haven’t you ever felt the urge to compete with another author? Haven’t you ever read a book and thought to yourself that you could write it better? Haven’t you ever looked at another author and asked why they got lucky enough to succeed at your dream when you haven’t?

I have. 

Jealousy is something all of us will face at some point in our lives and in our careers. Even if you’re genuinely happy for your friends who have achieved great things, there’s still a tiny piece of your heart that wants what they have. How do you deal with that? 

A friend and I were chatting about this over the weekend, and I realized that it’s still something I struggle with even now. The comparison trap is so easy to fall into, especially for creatives, but we shouldn’t compare ourselves to our fellow authors.

It’s a hard pill to swallow. I want success now. I have worked and struggled and sacrificed for my craft for years, and that means I should win. Doesn’t it? I should be a bestseller ten times over by now, right?

Why do I have to overcome all of these challenges no one else has? Why does my life have to be so much harder than everyone else’s? Why can’t I have the support that all my peers seem to have? 

If you’ve asked yourself those questions, please know that you’re not alone. We all struggle with this on some level. We all fight that old green-eyed monster at some point. It doesn’t even have to be about writing. It can be about any aspect of life. And I can tell you what has helped me.

Run your own race. 

You have a race laid out before you. So do I. We are all running a race, my friend, but we’re not running the same race.

The distance may be the same, the ultimate object may be the same, but the curves and the hurdles are in different places. If I tried to run your race, I would fail. Period. Your race includes struggles and challenges that God has equipped you for—not me. Likewise, if you tried to run my race, you would break. That goes for everyone you know.

When you think about it that way, you aren’t competing against another author—another person. You’re competing against yourself. You’re running to beat your tendency toward distraction, complacency, and pride. You’re running against your own fallen nature. 

So when you set your writing goals, remember that your story, your life, your race is unique to you, and only God knows how He's going to use it. His definition of success is usually very different from ours, and His timeline is absolutely different from ours. So when I feel tempted to compare my journey with someone else's, the Lord usually pokes me and reminds me that He is doing something different with me. That I need to focus on what He has done in me personally. 

I learned a long time ago that my stories belong to God, and He gets to decide how they are used, where they go, and who they reach. Most of the time so far, His plan has been "Wait" or "Not yet." But He has said "yes, now" enough at this point for me to understand that when the time is right, He'll make things happen. 

Until then, stay in your lane. Put one foot in front of the other, and then do it again. Maybe the next lap you can beat your first time. Maybe the lap after that you’ll clear that one tricky hurdle without hesitating. 

Press on toward the goal, because there’s no higher calling than pursuing the dream God has laid on your heart. But you have to trust His timing and run your own race.


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. Thank you for reminding us that our stories belong to God and He will decide how to use them. Great post. (P.S. I am not a runner either!)

    1. Thank you. Isn't the Lord great? It's so wonderful to be able to have confidence in Him.

  2. Thanks for the reminder that God’s plans and God’s timing is individualized for each of us. All I need to do is to keep my eyes on Him and take the next step that He shows me.

    1. Truth. But, boy, is it a challenge some days!!

  3. You're talking my language, Amy! I compete in track events in the Senior Games, and I love the competition. Although my fellow runners and I compete during the race, we're friends off the track and support each other. We exchange training ideas and commiserate about injuries. In the end, each of us wants to run our best race, regardless of where we place. I think the same is true of authors. We're in a highly competitive field, but as long as we do as you suggest and run our own race, we can support our newly-acquired friends, learn from each other, and enjoy the fruits of our labors.

  4. Thanks for the encouraging words today!

  5. Thank YOU, Mollie. It's a lesson I have to keep re-learning ....

  6. Excellent, Amy! Our pastor has been reminding us to "stay in our lane" for almost 2 years now. And I've heard friends across the country say the same thing. And now YOU are saying it.

    God is speaking, and we need to listen and remember.

    Great post, girlfriend.

    1. Thank you, Pam! I tell you, this is something I need to hear repeatedly. I'm working on learning it!!

  7. Thank you for this reminder, Amy! I don't struggle with jealousy about writing so much as getting discouraged when I read a book that I absolutely love and think, "why even try? I'll never be this good." Thank you for reminding me that God has given me a race to run that is my own, at my own speed and not the other person's.

    -Julia Garcia / Arysta Henry

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. You're right on. This is something we all need to remember!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this wisdom! It's so freeing to be able to take your eyes off of others and focus on your own journey.

    1. Right? Traveling our own path is difficult enough without having our eyes glued to someone else's feet!