Paying Attention to My Own Work

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” Gal 6:4 (NLT)

One of my hardest struggles as a writer is not comparing myself to others. I don’t know why I do it because I always come out on the short end of any comparison. Sometimes jealousy and envy will raise their ugly heads or sadness and depression will creep over my spirit. And I’ll hear those whispers, “See, you’ll never amount to anything. Whatever made you think you could write?”

What made me think I could write was a nudging in my spirit. I tell people God called me to write and he did. With that nudge, he planted a dream.

He didn’t tell me to write better than someone else. He told me to write, to express the thoughts he gave me in words and in a style uniquely mine own.

Comparing myself to others is dangerous. One comparison will have me telling myself I can never write like Steven James or DiAnn Mills or Angela Hunt, so why bother trying? Another comparison will have me saying, I’m a much better writer than this person and they get a multi-book contract and I get a politely vague rejection letter. Oh, the injustice!

My ego says I’ll never be good enough, or life is so unfair, or editors wouldn’t know good talent if it walked up and slapped them in the face with a mackerel.

These comparisons pull me off my own work, pull me off learning the craft, pull me over to Free Cell and Solitaire, to Facebook and Twitter. To wandering, mentally and physically, down unproductive paths. If my butt isn’t in the chair, I’m not writing. If my mind isn’t with my butt, I’m not writing.

If my heart isn’t turning to God to fulfill the call he gave me, I’m not writing. Worse, I’m in disobedience. And disobedience isn’t fun.

So, comparing myself to others plays into the devil’s plan to keep from fulfilling my call. And he doesn’t care how he does it, as long as I get discouraged and don’t write.

My job is to pay careful attention to my own work. Learn the craft. Be open to instruction and feedback. Write the best novels I can under God’s guidance and direction. At the end of each writing day, I want to look back and say “That is a job well done.” Not because it’s better than some other writer’s work. Not because it’s perfect. But because it’s the best I have to offer God in obedience to his call.

How do you handle those temptations to compare yourself to others?

8 Responses to Paying Attention to My Own Work

  1. Lori Freeland September 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    I am right there next to you all the way 🙂

  2. Henry September 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Thanks, Lori. It’s good to know we’re sharing this journey.

  3. Mark Sylvester September 12, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    One thing I try to remember is there’s always someone better than I am, but not better at MY job. God deals with specifics. He wants to make YOU the best you can be at YOUR writing.

  4. Henry September 12, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

    Great insight, Mark. Thank you.

  5. Jackie Stem September 12, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    Well said, Henry. When I look in a book store and see the millions of books there, I think why on earth do I want to write another one. But then I go ahead and do it anyway. Perhaps it’s like the song, “We write because God says write.”
    At least, I like to think so.


  6. Henry September 13, 2012 at 1:02 am #

    Thank you, Jackie.

  7. Julie Marx September 13, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    I’ll have to contemplate this a little deeper,Henry. Thanks for bringing it up.

  8. Henry September 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

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