A friend of mine and I run together a couple of 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 run four but regretted it later.
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 much, 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 other skills. That may not be the point in a heat, but it’s important. Not being able to run faster or lift more than someone doesn’t mean you’re a loser. It could mean we’d win at something else.
I’ve never been particularly competitive. I wasn’t athletic (or… 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 some writers are better than ourselves, we’re not necessarily wrong. It’s our job to find some aspect of our skillset (dialogue, description, worldbuilding, etc.) that sets us apart. That can lead to a big win.
photo: Adi Goldstein