Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

storm moving across a field
April 12, 2011


By Charlotte Carter

Athletes are an interesting breed. As a youngster I used to play baseball in a nearby vacant lot and football in the street with the neighbor boys. In school, I was on intramural teams. I was a tomboy but not an athlete.

My daughter came along. She was (still is when she has the time and energy) an athlete. She played soccer and ran track. (Jumping over hurdles is hazardous to one’s knees, she discovered.) She wanted to win, but for her it was more important that she ran ‘her personal best’ at a meet.

My granddaughter is a whole different story. She is a COMPETITIVE ATHLETE. She wants to win! She trains hard. Overcomes injuries. The closer a game, the harder she plays. TO WIN!

I have a lot of writer friends. I’ve concluded they fall into similar patterns. There are those who play at the intramural level. They write but may or may not complete a book. They adore attending workshops.

The next group are journeyman writers. They write and regularly sell. They strive to make the book they are writing just a little bit better than the last book they wrote. They’re orphaned by editors leaving the publishing house, yet they struggle on, change publishers, reinvent themselves. They are Writers.

The COMPETITIVE WRITER is a whole different creature. They are driven! If they make the NY Times list at #56, they angst over moving up two numbers or even staying on the list with their next book. Fear of failure nips at their heels with every success.

In general, I think all people are like these athletes and writers. They go through life at a jog, never training hard enough to achieve their personal best.

Or they strive and work and don’t give up when the going gets tough. (I confess I fall into this category.)

And then come the COMPETITORS in their chosen field. Through both talent and hard work, they reach great heights and achieve success.

There is no right or wrong in this. It just is.

Where do you fit on the competitiveness scale?

Books that leave you smiling
from Love Inspired
Big Sky Reunion, 4/19/2011
Big Sky Family, 11/2011

0 comments on “WIN VS. COMPETE”

  1. I love to compete. I even like to win. But doing my personal best is very satidfying.

    Totally relate to this post, Charlotte. My kids have all been athletes, but the youngest has been competitive at everything. Thanks for reminding me why I write.


  2. Great post and true to the bone. I'm, fortunately or unfortunately (it's all in the perspective) a competitive writer. I track on Novelrank daily to see how many places I've moved up or down. I know I shouldn't, but I can't help myself.

    The real key is not just seeing where you are, but making changes to stay competitive, to improve your ranking.

  3. I fall between categories. Sometimes I get REALLY lax and don't write for days, sometimes weeks. Then there are long stints when I write like my life depended on it, spending days writing an submitting. Maybe I'm bipolar.

  4. This post really hit home and reminded me that I am an athlete, not a competitor. Must be some force out there telling me to remember what't important because @novelpublicity's Facebook question of the day is along a similar vein. (What do you consider success?) I'm putting together some thoughts for a writing workshop, and you've inspired me to ensure I include this thought. Thank you for getting me back on track!

  5. Hmm. That's an interesting question. I think it depends. When I write, I write to win. I don't want to just write a good book that is my personal best. I want it to stand out above the competition. But I can't give the amount of time to writing that it takes to be a serious professional right now. I homeschool, teach art, coordinate volunteer departments, etc. I'm not willing to give those things up entirely, so for now, I plug away a little a day when it comes to writing. I study books about writing by writers.

    I'm the tortoise rather than the hare, but even he had a measure of success because he simply refused to become discouraged or give up.

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