Why Does Writing Have To Be A Competition?

You’ve heard how the old saying goes- “It’s a dog eat dog world out there.” But why does this have to apply to writing? Why does being a writer have to be so competitive? Surely there’s room enough on the thousands of empty bookshelves for us all.

I will admit- I can be quite competitive sometimes. But I will never understand why some people think that writing has to be that way. Art should not be a competition. Sure, there are only so many concepts, themes, and ideas that can be used in a piece of writing, but don’t all good artists get their starts by “stealing” aspects of pieces they’ve garnered inspiration from to form a brand new one (whether intentional or not)? That’s what writing, and art in general, is all about. Almost everything that can be said has been said before. The real question to be asked is, “Who said it best?”

However, this doesn’t mean writing should be a contest. Maybe what one person says in one book really resonates with a reader. That doesn’t mean it’ll have the same effect on another. That’s why writing is so beautiful. Your words on your pages on the piece that you’ve spent hours upon hours agonizing over will (hopefully) someday inspire so many different thoughts and emotions within others. This is precisely why we, as writers, should be supporting one another. We know that writing has the ability to lend itself to so many new thoughts and feelings within others- so why not make room for all writers to have a chance for their work to reach others? Even if they don’t necessarily succeed, they will have been provided with the support that gave them the chance to do so. Beyond that, we should be able to appreciate the scope of talent within the writing world without feeling threatened. We know how hard it can be to try and become an author, or just exist as a writer in general. So why does it seem as though we are always competing?

I spent a few weeks over the summer at an intensive writing program for high school students, and let me tell you- I met some of the most amazing people of my life. Being given a support system of fellow writers who gave real, constructive feedback and supported me throughout my artistic endeavors has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Because of those people believing in me, I was able to believe in myself for the first time. That’s when I realized that this is what I needed to do. I needed to write. I want all writers out there to feel this way. I want all writers to feel supported throughout their creative career. We should be standing by each other and offering support, because hey- whether you’ve sold thousands of copies of your novel, or you’ve just started working on your first draft, at the end of the day we’re all in the same boat. We’re all just artists trying to deliver our message in the best way we know how- with our words. We know the ups and downs that come along with the vulnerability of writing. So why is writing often viewed as such a competitive world? I think it’s time that we start showing more support so they’ll see the truth- writing is a creative roller coaster, but through it all, you deserve unconditional respect, appreciation, and encouragement.

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Thanks for reading! Do you agree? Do you think writers should show more support to each other? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to check out my TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest to stay updated!

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10 thoughts on “Why Does Writing Have To Be A Competition?”

  1. This post was fantastic and I completely agree with you!! Writers should support other writers and try to find inspiration in other works rather than finding ways to be better than them

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your post, Charlotte. Having gone to an art school, I felt the extremes of competition. On the good end of it, there was a push from your fellow artists to do better, reach the potential they saw in you. On the other end, there was the catty criticism, usually from those with the thinnest skins. Competition like that comes solely from insecurity. The rest of us — writers and artists — want to champion each other, knowing there is room for everyone.

    I would like to caution one thing: writers (and artists in general) do not and should not “steal” or even borrow from each other. The most important thing for a writer to do is find their own voice. What writers are known for, and what will most miff those in writers’ lives, is that very little is sacred. We will “steal” from the lives of others, quite freely and with very little guilt. The Didion quote is, “Writers are always selling somebody out.” It’s sad but sort of true. Very often, a friend’s story or an incident at a family gathering will spark an idea for a great scene or plot. But, unlike painters who are taught to copy masters’ works, writers are encouraged to do the opposite. Finding one’s own voice is important. Of course, if a writer wants to try their hand at something Seuss would do, or Poe, or Parker, or Didion, or Hemingway, or Shakespeare that’s one way to stretch the writing muscle and help hone one’s voice. But only an exercise.

    However, if what you meant by “steal” was to write similar stories (coming-of-age, love and loss, big adventure, etc.) then, yes, of course, that is fair play. And that would happen even if you wrote in a vacuum. (I was horrified when, shortly after I wrote my first screenplay, I saw The Big Chill and realized that I had just written the same film. Yes, my characters were younger, but they were similar and so was the theme. What I learned from that is when we first experience the death of a friend, many of those feelings are universal.) Those universal experiences (even hitting your funny bone) will be felt and/or processed in similar ways, which will lead to similar work. Just be true to your original self and, no matter what, keep writing. We need the voices of strong women out there. If you run into those who see it as a harsh competition, remember that they are doing it wrong. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment! And yes, I do see the potential for confusion with my statement that writers should “steal,” but I did mean to write similar stories and not entire plots/characters/etc. Thanks for stopping by and checking out my post!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. While I do agree writers should support each other, often times, that isn’t the case. You have websites like Wattpad, Tapas, and Radish that put writers against each other. I feel websites like that are toxic to writers. However, if you’re in a small group of writers you trust, you’re more likely to get that support. Frankly, writers supporting each other is hard to find online.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Charlotte! Thanks for your post. You are right. I don’t see why there should be competition. Even in blogging, we all need to be journeying together, holding hands and supporting one another. My life and work is based on helping people succeed. This includes writers.

    Liked by 1 person

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