5 Minutes on Comparison
Vulnerability caveat: Intentional video recordings are new for me, and post-polish is not something I've got space or skills for yet. But since my whole ethos is that holding your message behind walls of perfection doesn't serve anyone, here I am! I've got a whole story behind this video in particular I'll probably share someday. For now, if you love video, hang with me while I settle in. Otherwise, the text below is a tightened up almost-transcript of that content, because writing is my happy place. Welcome to it.
We're often told not to compare.
Don't compare your page one to their end. Comparison is the thief of joy. It's not good for you. Just stop.
I don't think that any of us are comparing intentionally in the first place. Which makes it really difficult to just stop.
With my clientele, we don't consider ourselves professional writers. We have another profession and we are writing to transition into a deeper layer of it, or we're writing because we have a lot of expertise, but our primary identity is not author.
And nobody (that I talk to) is sitting down and making a list, like "How do I stack up against these other authors?"
I know this because I ask that in our discovery calls: Who do you love to read? Who do you not like to read? What do you like about how those people show up in the world? What do you not like?
It's a new conversation for most people. It's a fresh exploration. Because we're not comparing intentionally.
[Editing note: That means sometimes we don't even realize we're comparing. Sometimes it comes out as "Eh, I couldn't write a longer book/a memoir/a how-to..." and it's only when we unpack a bit that we find that the thing you don't think you can do is the exact thing you love to read.]
When comparison is not a conscious process, you can't just find a switch and flip it. If you could, you would have already.
So what if we could embrace comparison? On purpose? What if we looked at what that unconscious process is doing for us and rolled with it?
What if it could be completely okay—even good—for you to compare yourself to other authors? How would that change your approach to writing?
Comparison Can Be Leveraged
Two things are happening when you're comparing against other authors intentionally.
One is that you're seeing what you would love to emulate in the world. So when you go, "Ugh, I could never be as XYZ as that author," or, "Oh, they just did it so beautifully, I will never measure up," you are seeing how you would love to show up in an ideal world.
Two, when you go, "Ugh, I could never do it the way they did. I would do it differently. They missed the mark. I can't believe that they showed up in XYZ way and still made it...." that's you seeing what you would do differently in someone else's shoes.
And if you've done any kind of nicheing nicheing down before of any kind of marketing exploration, you know that those two questions—how do you wanna be seen and what sets you apart from other people—are super valuable, important questions for setting up your brand, your identity, your marketability.
And they're really hard to answer when you're narrowing from the scope of everything you could possibly be to what you would love to be.
But it is already happening unconsciously. That makes comparison a massively valuable thing that you can do. By leaning into the thing that's already happening, you can better define your identity as an author.
There Is Something We Can Stop, Though
The thing that we can intentionally stop—is that comparison can quickly shift into competition.
Now, I don't think the competition thing happens consciously either. I think that it's this ego part of you that's worried that if you try and show up in the world in a new way, everything is gonna change. That's ego death. So it tells you you'll never be able to compete with them.
You'll never be able to show up in the world in the way that they are. You'll never be able to take their audience.
You'll never be...
You'll never have...
You'll never do... And then we don't. We clam up and don't write and don't step into that space.
[Editing note: notice the difference in that language? Comparison seems to start with observations about what is, but then competition shifts it to stories and judgments. Do you have any clues that ego-fear might be feeding your story about your content or another author's?]
That's not truth though. That's a competition that we never asked to step into.
So if we can catch that competition bug in our brain when comparison starts to feel bad, we can redirect it toward collaboration and community and connection.
They haven't beaten you to a topic. They have opened up a space that you can step into.
They haven't done something that you have to beat. They have started a conversation that you can join.
Intention changes competition from something that needs to be stopped to something that can help us unlock our content.
CTA: Let's use comparison to talk more about how comparison can be helpful, yeah? This month, I'm pulling a scene from The Matrix to teach you how stepping into your AUTHORity helps you connect to your message and your reader. Click here to grab your seat. **ETA: I just moved this to January. It's a long story. I'll try to keep it to 5 minutes—maybe next time.