While many writers will insist rivalry among ourselves, "doesn't really exist" it does. I've seen and been burnt out from it far too many times myself to deny it,
I think the real question here is not if this issue exists, but rather the question, "When in the writing process does it start?"
As former spelling bee champs and Olympic athletes will tell you, rivalry, whether ruthless or not, is part of the game, whether you physically sweat and toil in a track and field race, or feel pin drop silence as two kids face a stage in the final moments of the national spelling bee, where a clear head and fast instinct are paramount to victory.
For writers, especially novelists and short story writers, rivalry comes in three ways-
- Books in our genre(s)
- Writers who specialize in our genre or niche markets
- Other demands for our reader's time
To keep this post focused, today we'll only focus on the first two rivals, other books in our genre, and writers who are well written and often loved in our chosen niche.
There are many dangers to letting a rivalry go to one's head. Here are a few to watch yourself for-
- You can't read in your genre anymore
- Hearing certain authors by name sends a shiver of envy and/infierority down your spine.
- You avoid certain authors like the plague if they write what you write, and are considered "The best" in your niche, and people already thing you're emulating them, even when you know da** well you're not!
- Critique partners who cite problems in your manuscript by using published authors as a quality yardstick.
- Becoming enraged (Or at least annoyed) with being compared to certain authors just because your niche is the same.
It's one thing to hear "You should work on your pacing" and another to hear "Try studying how X Published Author handles pacing."
Now some writers find rivalry fuels their work in a good way.
For a lot of writers, myself included, the exact opposite is true, for the same reason why some writers love deadlines and others do not, but try to stay sane when they must meet them.
These tussles of rivalry's negative effects to my writing (or lack thereof) vs. adversity in spite of failure, are often how many of my sabbaticals from writing began. But after nearly a decade of this seesawing my development as a writer, I'm determined to take back control and not let the negative aspects of rivalry, however tangential, get in the way of my dreams and ambition, a promise to myself I have to keep, because life without writing in it is not an option.
Check back more to learn about the upsides to writer rivalry, and ways to channel the feelings of rivalry into something positive, both for your mood, and getting the story written in the end.
Ciao for now,
May the fantastic fauna be with you.