The New York Times Magazine has a piece on one man’s competitiveness with his father that has some appropriate advice for budding creatives. Mainly: competitiveness is a virtue, but only in moderation. With online media it’s easy to “keep score” with pageviews, likes, and retweets, but if you use them as your only source of validation, you’re in trouble. From the piece:
Yet now writerly success has been publicly quantified in a way that allows direct daily competition — Facebook likes, retweets, page views, page read-throughs, position on the most-e-mailed list. It’s impossible to turn away from the numbers, even though they are so obviously a path to idiocy: care too much about them, and you’ll wake up one day to find yourself writing “27 cats who look like members of the royal family.” Competitiveness leads to an unhealthful narrowing of vision, at least for me. What could be more toxic to the business of writing than that brand of narrowing?
It’s case for seeking internal motivation and for doing work that you’re proud of. It’s a longer road, but it’s one worth traveling.