A friend of mine and I run together a couple times per week. Right now, he’s training for a ten-mile race. Together, we run a fraction of that amount because three miles is just about my limit. I’ve done four but regretted it later.
Obviously, he’s the better runner. He’s less winded than I am when we hit the three-mile mark and can usually outrun me in the final sprint. But this doesn’t bother me and there’s a reason.
I lift weights and he doesn’t. Pull-ups? Push-ups? I’ve got him beat.
When it comes to competition, we often neglect to think about our other skills. That may not be the point in a direct heat but it’s important. Not being able to run faster or lift more than someone else doesn’t mean we’re a loser. It could mean we’re winning at something else.
I’ve never been particularly competitive. I wasn’t athletic (or maybe coordinated) when I was young. But I could probably make an argument that I have become extremely competitive with age–at least with myself, which is not necessarily a bad attribute for a writer.
I want to be better than yesterday and last week. I want to increase my word count and push myself to produce and create to the maximum of my abilities. When I talk about it like this, writing starts to sound a bit like a sport.
The difference is that writing isn’t a competition with anyone other than ourselves. It’s an individual sport. If we think there are writers who are better than ourselves we’re not necessarily wrong. But it’s our job to find some aspect of our skill set (dialogue, description, etc.) that sets us apart and can lead us to success.
photo: Adi Goldstein