How To Stop Comparing And Start Creating
Free Yourself From Comparison And Become Your Most Creative Self
As artists, we often compare our work and our journeys to other creatives. Almost all of us have experienced self-doubt, and made negative comparisons between ourselves and those around us.
I think it is natural to look at others as we try to find our way on our creative journey. We tend to search for some reassurance that we are on the right track, but when we look at the work of others rather than focus on our own, we waste precious time and energy. And it often leaves us feeling disheartened and inadequate.
Comparison is one of the biggest obstacles to being our most creative selves.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt
Whilst imitating can be helpful in developing new skills and learning different techniques, at some point we need to find our own way to express what we want to say and how we want to say it.
Inspirations and influences are inevitable impacts in art. The challenge I think, is to be able to learn from them without feeling compelled to create work that is a shadow of theirs.
The creative life is one that begins with looking inward, asking difficult questions of yourself, following your curiosities and expressing your opinions.
Our best and most authentic work comes when we create art that is aligned with who we are, unashamed and unapologetic, with no desire to be like anyone but ourselves.
“Look to others for inspiration, but always listen to your own instincts and follow your curiosity in the pursuit of your own visual voice.” — Tony Hewitt
By evaluating our work against someone else’s, we often find ourselves judging and criticising, looking for flaws, in others but ultimately in ourselves. When we spend more time searching for what is wrong or missing, we can easily overlook any progress that we have made.
Making art is exploratory, so give yourself permission to create without labelling your work as “good” or “bad”, and allow your ideas to develop through play.
Your journey needs to be significant enough to you that you have no time to get distracted by others.
“We judge ourselves, we judge our work against others instead of enjoying our work. When we judge and compare we ruin the experience for ourselves.” — James Victore
I’ve learnt that looking at other people’s work, their journeys and achievements, as a benchmark for my creative success, is never helpful nor accurate.
Art is not a competition and we don’t improve our art by trying to make it better than someone else’s.
Feeling that you’re not getting fair recognition or that you’re not as good as fellow artists, only leads to envy, self-doubt and fear.
So it is important to surround yourself with creative minds who are not in competition with each other, but rather support, encourage, and celebrate one another.
“Make your art, and allow yourself to be inspired by theirs. The reward is the work itself, and the discovery in that work of the person you are becoming.” — David duChemin
Comparing ourselves to others is a bad habit, and letting go of comparison is not an easy thing to do. For many of us, it’s something that requires constant awareness. For me, I try to remind myself that the relationship between me and my work is the only relationship that matters.
I believe that if you want to create your most fulfilling work, it needs to be an honest expression of who you are and how you experience the world.
Create art that is important to you. It’s the only thing that matters.