1. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    Competition?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by mbinks89, Dec 3, 2013.

    What do you think of competition? Can it be beneficial? It depends on what you're doing, I suppose, but I'm thinking of this in the context of art. For instance, the only person I try to compete with is myself; I seek to constantly refine, but can having a likeminded friend who writes also be beneficial, if you try to outdo one another? From musing this over, I've come to believe that competition, as a mentality, is dangerous. Sure, it can drive us to improve, but that would inflate our egos, when there will always be someone better, and depress us, when we fail to outdo the competitor. Thus, we should try not to compete, but to grow from one another. To experience their art and use it as inspiration for our own. I'd like some other opinions, though.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Competition would seem to need predefined concepts, goals, and meters by which to measure success. As I grow older, I find more and more that definitions of this sort are a hindrance to opportunity that lies outside the parameters of the definition. When I let go of a specific "I am this", or "I am not that", I find new paths for growth. They don't have to be taken, but just considering that they are there is growth in and of itself. Sorry if that seems a little non sequitur to your question, but that's the thought that was evoked. :)
     
  3. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    Competition is not a well delineated concept. Clearly, most games and sports would be boring if there was no competition. But as writers and artists, who would we learn from, if not our competition. It's not uncommon to see an anchor store with several smaller, similar stores in the immediate area, offering the same products type. Each seems to flourish. It's when the competition becomes predatory that the problems start.
     
  4. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    If you talk about writing as a profession, you are already in competition whether you think so or not. Why are some authors more successful? How do I get an agent to read my MS? What makes me more marketable than you?
    Writing as a pastime? You don't have to keep score playing golf either
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Competition works well in narrowly-defined areas of human endeavor, like sports. In football, for example, whoever scores the most points wins. End of story. In a 100-meter sprint, whoever crosses the finish line first wins. It's incredibly simple to define success in areas like that.

    In writing, is there really such a thing as competition? How can you measure whether Shakespeare was better than Tolstoy? They weren't doing the same thing - we just group them together because we find their works in the same stores. Is Toni Morrison better than, say, John Grisham? Grisham certainly sells tons more books, but Morrison won the Nobel Prize. Are they doing the same thing? They have different goals and different audiences; does the fact that they both write novels mean they're competing with each other? Does the fact that they both write novels even matter? They define success in different ways. I don't think they're in competition at all.

    The word "competition" has very little applicability in art, in my opinion.
     
  6. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    @Wreybies, no apology needed, I think what you thought is cool. So you're saying that you'd rather not compare yourself to others, or even self-identify, in order to allow more exploration?
    @Fitzroy Zeph, so are you then advocating a mutually beneficial competition? That seems a little idealist to me, though, since competition by definition (and I guess the post was vague about what I meant by competition, so it's certainly a valid criticism to say I should have defined this earlier), would mean to me that one person is always trying to be better than the other. While both may always grow, if one of the competitors, though he is growing, always views himself in comparison to someone who's perpetually better, than wouldn't it be inevitable he never becomes satisfied? I suppose satisfaction/happiness and betterment are again different cans of worms, but what is betterment if we're not deriving pleasure from our artistic growth?
    @minstrel, very interesting thought, and I agree, I think (though I try to keep my mind open to others angles of analysis).
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'competition' is endemic to all of life, from the attraction rituals/procedures of dual-gendered species in the mating part of the propagation process [includes the scramble among spermatazoa to get first dibs at the ovum], to gaining fame, or just making a living...

    without competition, there would be no evolution and we wouldn't exist as a species...
     
  8. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    But then the question becomes, who do we compete with to maximize our potential, ourselves, others, both?
     
  9. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that there can be bitter competition between rivals, but once one side sets up a strategy to wipe out the other, beyond just being better at what they do, but by using lies and other subversive tactics to gain an advantage, think politics here, then it's not fair and there is a problem. No one or no one entity can do everything, this allows for others to compete, but a guileful competitor too often wants to have it all. So my argument centers around what is fair and not fair. I am a bit of a socialist by the way.
     
  10. Tharian
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    Tharian Contributing Member

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    Conflict brings change, and if you hold that change within your own hands then it can take a course for the better. With that in mind, I don't think there's anything wrong with some healthy envy and competition.

    When is it healthy, you ask? I believe it is healthy when it is composed and controlled. You should not write to beat your competition and to feed your superiority complex. You create the perception of competition so that you can learn; therefore, to better yourself.

    I say ''perception,'' because in the end the competition is as big as you make it out to be. Yes, if you're published you can see it as competing with other authors, but I don't think that should be the mindset. Before you know it you will ask yourself, ''how can I appeal more to the crowd,'' instead of writing what you truly want, regardless of the crowd's taste.
     
  11. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Congratulations on bringing up an interesting talk.

    Who is the better soccer player? The striker scoring all the goals or the goalkeeping preventing them? Apples and oranges.

    Seeing as you have brought sport into comparison I am a professional soccer coach and have advocated taking competition out of the equation for up to 10 year olds all my career. I think competition stimies growth in kids; too many parents, coaches, principles with massive egos looking to fill their trophy cabinets rather than letting kids learn to play. Sure they all want to win and they all want to score the goal in the final but when a kid is on a bad team that doesn't win he gets disillusioned and often gives up and stops playing no matter how much they love it, so I think competition has it's place depending on the position of the learning arc the person is on.

    Taking it back to writing you can argue over the better writer, who sells more Vs who wins more Nobels. Does Stephen King sit there thinking, I have to write a better book than HP Lovecraft? I really don't know but at that level maybe that's what spurs them on, keeps them going. While they may not be thinking of beating each other they are both competing for shelf space in B&N.

    I won't agree/disagree here but my main story is similar to Dan Brown's Da Vinci code in that it is full of controversial conspiracies although I doubt there'll be worldwide bible thumping going on about me nor will Oprah be inviting me on her show to come and defend the story - but I hope so! Saying that, in the back of my head I'm always trying to figure out how I can improve on his writing, what I'd do differently, how to better his book so yeah, that's probably my competition and that alone has made my book better than his - in my selfish opinion of course!
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Soccer is a team sport, not an individual sport. The better players are the ones on the team that wins, I suppose.

    It's hard to come up with a decent definition of player competence in some team sports, such as soccer. The closest I've seen is the plus/minus system used in hockey. Do they use that in soccer? Basically, in hockey, if you're on the ice when your team scores a goal, you add one to your plus/minus score. If you're on the ice when the opposing team scores against you, you subtract one. It's a good way to measure a player's general effectiveness, even if they're not a scoring superstar.

    I don't think writers think in terms of competing with each other in this way. What writer checks out the B&N with a tape measure to find out who gets more space? To me, that's being obsessive about the wrong thing. If King writes a better book than Lovecraft, does he in some way defeat Lovecraft? No. What's happened is that Lovecraft has inspired King to write better. It's about writers inspiring each other, not competing with each other. If people read King's books and find they like horror, they might seek out Lovecraft's books. Both King and Lovecraft win (or at least, Lovecraft's estate wins).
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that will depend on your intended purpose/goal and your motivation...

    if you're a guy and want to maximize your potential to attract females, you'd have to compete with other males...

    if you only want to maximize your potential to live a healthy life, you'd be competing with your desire to drink beer and eat junk food...

    if your purpose is to attract females and you love beer and junk food, then you'd have to compete both with yourself and with other males...

    apply that to being a writer and it becomes:

    if you want to make money at it and you're skills are adequate, you have to compete with other writers...

    if you only want to write your own amusement and your skills are poor, you have to compete with your tendency to not care if they need improvement...

    if you want to make money at it and your skills are poor, you'll have to compete both with yourself and with other writers...

    simple, isn't it?
     

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