Yesterday morning, mug of coffee in hand, I scanned my Google Reader for new blog posts, and Jon Acuff’s guest post on Michael Hyatt’s blog left me astounded. Acuff was asked to talk about his new book, Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job, on the radio. Usually so at ease in front of an audience, he found himself frozen with fear in front of the microphone and watched as the skilled radio host across from him handled the show with great dexterity. Feeling more than slightly inadequate in comparison to such a skilled man, Acuff eventually gleaned this from the experience: “Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”
It’s something of the obvious, but we often never perceive this concept in our own lives. It would be ridiculous for a child taking guitar lessons to compare himself with Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton. It would be irrational for a first-year art student to compare her portrait with one of Van Gogh’s. And it would certainly be disheartening for a first-time mother to compare herself to a mother with college-aged children. In very much the same vein, it’s also insane for writers to compare their first stories to Pulitzer-winning novels.
Good writing comes through hard work, and hard work must be endured for months, years, decades (God forbid decades). It’s not a task for the merely interested. It’s a task for the impassioned.
And years of passion cannot help but yield mastery and art.
How do you avoid the daily pitfalls of comparing yourself to the greats?