The Empowering Effect Of Non-comparison

The Empowering Effect Of Non-comparison

sand_castleImagine a child on the sunny beach, building a sand castle.  She has her pail and shovel. She has unlimited amounts of media including sand, water, stones, sticks and shells.  As the creation rises, she recognizes in the materials the infinite possibilities of combination.  This is perceived as great wealth for creation and re-creation.  Once completed, there will be cajoling to come and see, see what I created!  There is also the learned understanding that the castle is ephemeral.  It will not exist tomorrow, unless she decides to build again.

Suppose she comes to the beach the next day, prepared to create an even better castle.  As she hurries to the sea she looks left.  A child and his mother are building an entire town around a beautifully manicured castle, complete with drawbridge, parapets and banners.  We can infer that our little girl’s excitement might be undercut, joy bleeding slowly out.  Sound familiar?

When I taught music in public schools, I was often distraught by my student’s immediate desire to compare the music they made in class with their favorite pop star icons.  Since I have retired, that perspective has redoubled.  When you want to learn to juggle, you can go online and learn the basics.  However, you will also run across videos of jugglers that seem to have a natural talent for juggling 5 disparate objects, while balancing on a unicycle, blindfolded.  The gap between what you might accomplish in 30 minutes of practice and that kind of talent may cause a deflating ego effect.  This is the corrosive effect of comparison.

Want To Write?  Write!

Sounds grim I know, but I have a solution for you in your daily writing habits.  I often refer to this perspective as looking through the telescope backwards.  Instead of internalizing the vastness of the job at hand, look at it from the perspective of small progression.  If you’re feeling like that little girl on the beach, raise your shoulders and begin building your castle.  Take cues from the mother and child you observed; “Ah, I never thought of using sticks that way!  I’m going to try that too.”  Imagine yourself going to them and introducing yourself.  Ask if you might help out with their creation.  In other words, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Remember that when you compare your own work to work done by veterans, you want to glean clues as to why their work is successful.  Word choices, grammar, descriptive language, POV.  Then just select one tool or media that you observe in their work, and introduce (play with) that one idea on a page.

That’s how your own writing will improve.  That’s how the veterans learned.

Write every day without wallowing in comparisons.  Remember, just because you have all the sand in the world at your disposal, it doesn’t mean you have to use it all at once.  ~TH~

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Author: Tom Hitt

Retired teacher, now writing and creating paper crafts. Oh yeah, collecting typewriters as well.

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