Writing is a solo sport, but it doesn’t have to be. Having a team of people who push me forward and hold me accountable, and elevates my writing. However, sometimes seeing success others achieve or projects that they land causes feelings of jealousy. For some reason, it feels like other writers are my competition — when they win a client, I lose the same client.
A recent MIT study explored how competition impedes creativity. The research showed “some competition is needed to motivate high performers to develop original, untested ideas over tweaking their earlier work, but heavy competition drives them to stop investing altogether.”1
Seeing other writers land big, successful gigs causes me to reevaluate what I’m doing wrong. In reality, I’m often not doing anything wrong, and there are more than enough projects available for us all. Maybe, instead of giving into the competitive mindset, it’s time to start celebrating each other’s successes.
The Olympics just wrapped up in Tokyo. The world came together and the greatest athletes from around the world competed for two weeks to determine the best in their discipline. While there are many fantastic stories from the games, my favorite was the men’s high jump.
After a two-hour completion, Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi were tied at 2.37 meters. As the official began explaining the rules of a “jump-off,” Barshim asked, “can we get two golds?” Before the official could finish saying, “it’s possible,” the two looked at each other and started celebrating. Barshim and Tamberi became the first joint Olympic track medalists since 1912.2
Barshim and Gianmarco are good friends. They often train together and push each other forward. When it came time to compete, they opted to share and celebrate their successes instead. We writers can learn a lot from these high jumpers.
Someone else’s writing success does not equate to our failure. We should celebrate their accomplishments and encourage them to succeed further. Then, as the MIT study showed, we use their success to fuel our drive.
Sure, pushing out feelings of jealousy aren’t always easy. But, if we stop focusing on competing and instead start celebrating each other, jealousy quickly fades away.
Let’s order our medal stand uniforms and celebrate each other’s success. What have you achieved lately that we can celebrate together?
- Gross, D. P. (2020, June 1). Creativity Under Fire: The Effects of Competition on Creative Production | The Review of Economics and Statistics | MIT Press. MIT Press. https://direct.mit.edu/rest/article/102/3/583/96779/Creativity-Under-Fire-The-Effects-of-Competition ↩
- BBC. (2021, August 1). High jumpers agree to share Olympic gold. BBC Sport. https://www.bbc.com/sport/olympics/58048827 ↩