Free Your Pen

Buddhist Writing Prompt: Don’t Compete With Others

Don’t Compete With Others is about remembering that life isn’t a race. You don’t have to be the first or the best, and you don’t have to compete to win.

The original lojong slogan is: Don’t try to be the fastest. Life seems to be getting faster and faster every day. Competitiveness is built-in to the way society works, with everyone jostling for position. Everybody wants to be first. Nobody wants to be last. Even having fun becomes a competition. If you slow down you might miss something cool or important. You try to keep up with the frenetic pace, but end up running in circles.

This slogan is a reminder to slow down. You don’t have to compare yourself with others to see how far you have come or still have left to go. Meditation and awakening to your true Self is about how you relate to your inner life. You can’t free your mind and find inner stillness if you’re always trying to get somewhere or achieve something.

When you stop competing with others it allows you to come home to the present moment. Let other people be whoever they are. Then you are free to be you. Slow down, relax and smell the roses.

Apply this slogan to your writing practice by remembering not to compare your writing with others. Don’t be swayed by the latest bestsellers or what others say you should write. If you want to write a good book – and by that I mean a book that you’re proud of and that you’re happy to put your name on – you’ll need to focus on your book. Not other people’s books. Yours.

When you worry too much what others think, it distorts your writing and you end up with a piece of work that falls short of what you may be capable of. Putting other people’s opinions ahead of your own almost guarantees that nobody will like what you write – not even you.

Only you can write your book.

Your writing prompt this weekend: Identify other writers with a similar style to your own. Why do you admire their work? How is your voice different to theirs?

More in the book: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers

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