I’ve rephrased James Scott Bell’s 15th tip in the “Art of War for Writers”: Don’t worry about the competition – become the best you.
Bell shares the experience we’ve all had as artists – where we read, see or hear something that is so absolutely brilliant that we say to ourselves, “I’ll never do anything that amazing. I won’t even come close, so why even try?”
Mark Twain nailed it when he said, “Comparison is the death of joy.” But rather than despair in that moment, Bell encourages us to call to mind a new perspective. When you say to yourself, “I could never do that,” think to yourself, “That’s right. Nor could any other artist do what that artist has done. Because the brilliant thing they’ve created comes from their own mind, and life and heart and experience. No one else could duplicate it.”
Which means…drum roll, please…I also have something unique to create which no one else can duplicate. I have a unique voice, and a unique story, and a unique style. So rather than try to become the next best This Person of That Person, why not become the best You.
Be inspired by them, certainly. Learn tips and techniques from then, better yet. But drop the comparison game. Bell ends by quoting John Wooden: “Don’t try to be better than they are. You have no control over that. Instead try, and try very hard, to be the best you can be. That you have control over.”
Do you find this change in perspective helpful?
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