Comparisons: A Small Rant

People, people, people.

I am glad you all love Mockingjay. I’m happy you’ve been able to immerse yourselves in it over the past day or two. I’m thrilled that it seems to be proving all you wanted. Full disclosure: I haven’t read it yet, but I will, and when I get there, I’m pretty sure I’ll be seriously impressed as well.


Please don’t compare yourself as a writer, as a not-as-good writer, as a writer-who-will-never-write-this-well. I don’t know Suzanne Collins personally, but I am willing to bet this was NOT HER GOAL when she wrote her trilogy. Really.

Okay, not everybody’s doing this. But I’ve read a few posts on Facebook and Twitter, though, and probably you’re half-joking, at least. I hope. Because comparisons stink. They make you feel bad about yourself, with no reason. No, I can’t tell you you’re wrong. In many ways, you’re right. Suzanne Collins has written a wonderful book, one you will not write yourself. I won’t write it, either. I also won’t write The Princess Diaries, My Father’s Dragon, Zen and the Art of Faking It, Donuthead, or Wuthering Heights.

Thank goodness someone already did.

Because these are some of the stories that made me fall in love with books, and keep me there. They’re the reason I write.

I know you guys don’t really mean it. I know you’re in love with Suzanne Collins’ stories and are happy, SO happy, that she’s given them to us. I wince, though, every time I read a post saying one of you will never be this kind of writer. I want to hug you, to tell you it’ll be okay, and then–honestly–to throw a pillow at you (a soft, feathery one, but still…).

YOU’RE WRITING. You’re doing wonderful things, putting together beautiful (okay, and not so beautiful) combinations of words that nobody has created before you. You’re telling your story, the best you can…and that’s HUGE!

Remember that, okay?


  1. nrhatch says:

    Excellent post, Becky.

    When we use an external compass as a barometer, we do so at our peril.

    The goal is not to be better than others . . . but to be better than our previous selves.


  2. Mike Jung says:

    Guilty. Guilty as charged. πŸ™‚ And your advice is excellent, Becky – comparing ourselves to other writers, creating a heirarchy of quality or legitimacy or whatever the perceived quality might be, ultimately has no value to speak of, whichever side of the fence we might choose to place ourselves on.


    • beckylevine says:

      Hey, Mike-thanks for stopping by. And I’m guilty, too, believe me…but it just doesn’t do any good. If anything, it keeps me from writing, and where does THAT take me? You are in a fantastic place right now–enjoy it.


  3. You got me at “rant”! :0)

    Excellent post! I, too, have seen these kinds of comments and they make me sad. I, for one, am sooooo glad there are all kinds of writers, because there are all kinds of readers.

    I love this from the above comment by nrhach: “The goal is not to be better than others . . . but to be better than our previous selves.” And, correct me if I’m wrong, but I do believe THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy is Suzanne Collins being better than her previous self, too.

    If we focus on the wrong writer (which is any writer but ourself), then we can’t possibly write the books we’re meant to write.

    And, yes. I must remind myself of this often, too. I think it’s the nature of the beast.


  4. Sammi says:

    Well said, Becky. Let’s celebrate the terrific words of writers and keep working on our own.


  5. I love your rant! It’s soooo true! You know what they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! Apparently self-degradation is too!

    Collins is a fantastic author though, and I’ve read them all. It simply makes me want to read more and find more great authors and celebrate the gift of imagination!


    • beckylevine says:

      Vickie–thanks for stopping by. I love this–“celebrate the gift of imagination.” It’s a great world to be part of! πŸ™‚


  6. last_lines says:

    Excellent post Becky! We need to “Be the You, You are meant to be.”…in all areas of life but especially the creative pursuit. Everyone has their own unique voice but unfortunately society sometimes prefers sheep to individuals. As a writer though, or any other type of artist you may identify yourself as, the goal is to seek one’s OWN truth and then share your finds so that you may enrich those around you. If you are just repeating something somebody else has already said, your words cannot have any PUNCH. Believe in your own work otherwise nobody else will.


    • beckylevine says:

      I know that if I spend too much time comparing, it just slows down my own writing. Not a good thing. πŸ™‚


  7. Becky,
    Thanks for the rant. Just what I needed to hear about writing and (believe it or not) about golf! My husband is teaching me and I can’t help but compare my lack of skills to his..although he’s a got a few years on me. Be that as it may, your point that we need to believe in our work (or golf swing) hit home today. appreciate it.


    • beckylevine says:

      Oh, boy, do I get that. My husband cycles double-centuries, and I can barely run a mile. I’ll keep concentrating on the writing! πŸ™‚


  8. Laura Best says:

    I totally agree with you, Becky.All we can ever hope to do is to write the best book we can. It will be as unique as what we are and totally different from everyone else’s.

    Enjoyed this post!


    • beckylevine says:

      Thanks, Laura. That’s it–whether or not I’m good enough to write Mockingbird isn’t the point. I can’t write it, because I’m not Suzanne Collins, so that book wouldn’t be my story.


  9. If I could go back in time and yell at sixteen year old me (and if I was limited to only being able to yell one thing, haha) I would say “Quit measuring your own life by the lives of others!”
    It’s held me back in writing and many other endeavors, and it’s held me back in actually going out and living my life in some cases.

    Your post is a great and succinct reminder to enjoy amazing things instead of wasting time and effort on jealousy/self-deprecation


    • beckylevine says:

      I’m never sure my 16-year-old self would have LISTENED! But it’s good to be telling ourselves this now, at least. πŸ™‚


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