Someone recently told me that the golfer Rory McIlroy, when he’s playing in competitions like he was over the weekend, make a conscious decision not to know the scores of his fellow competitors whilst he’s playing. Though I couldn’t find any reference to this when I had a quick look, I thought this was brilliant. It sounds unusual - as scoring is quite visible when you’re playing or watching golf - but makes a lot of sense. McIlroy is someone who experienced early golfing success, winning 4 major tournaments. Since then, in his own words, it’s there have been ups and downs; after being tipped to be one of the all-time best, his last major win came nearly a decade ago. Whilst I’ve not yet won any giant trophies for my writing(!), I’ve found it difficult not to compare myself to other writers who are blogging, writing books, or otherwise have businesses around their writing. Whether it’s the courses they’re launching (the price, how often) or the books they’re writing (and, for example, how many Amazon downloads they have), continually looking over my shoulder at what everyone else is doing has prevented me from simply doing my own thing and trusting my own journey. I’ve often talked about one of the best things about writing being the exchange that takes place, the connection between writer and reader. It’s why I enjoy reading others’ writing - in cosy corners of the internet or as lesser-known self-published works - as much as I enjoy my own writing. But as I’ve gotten to become aware of, or know, more of these writers on the internet… whilst it’s inspired me and shown me what’s possible, it’s also upped the pressure and expectations with the comparison. Continually looking over your shoulder at what everyone else is doing can take the fun away from your own journey — and even make you step away from the path you’re supposed to be on. Whilst it was blogging that re-ignited my love of writing as an adult, and the concept of being able to read the thoughts and experiences of others and get to know pen-friends thousands of miles away… by choosing to focus so much of my writing on my blog over the years, it has meant that I’ve not written as many other creative projects (books, novellas, scripts?) as I otherwise might’ve done. I’ve focused a little too much on needing to be consistent and writing for an audience, and cared too much about the person on the other side - in the way you have to when you write, and edit, words that are to instantly be available to read. (You have to do this - editing - for a novella or a book, too, but not until after you’ve spent time scribbling down your first draft and writing for yourself, rather than the person at the other end). That might sound strange coming from someone so passionate about “the blog”. I’ve mentioned I’ve made good friends with blogs and books and a love of writing. And it’s difficult not to compare yourself to those friends. There’s something to be said for Rory McIlroy’s alleged approach. Just focusing on his own process — not anyone else’s — so that he can be the best he can and enjoy himself whilst he does it. Whilst I some of my early blogging relationships — which continue today — where made in places like Wordpress and Twitter, I’ve often struggled with follower counts, views, likes and such. This is why I now prefer not looking at this information, and have opted out of all but the bare minimum “stats” when it comes to my newsletter (which, again, I avoid looking at if I can help it). Frankly, I’d much rather stay in my lane and just let myself do my own thing.
Main image: Dorcas Smucker writing, taken from eu.registerguard.com